The Effect of Interviewers’ and Respondents’ Accent and Gender on Willingness to Cooperate in Telephone Surveys


This article presents two real-life experiments that investigate whether an interviewer’s accent and gender combined with a respondent’s accent and gender have an impact on telephone survey cooperation rates. Expectations were based on the authority and liking principles of the compliance theory. In Study 1, 12 standard-speaking interviewers (6 men, 6 women) and 12 interviewers with a regional accent (6 men, 6 women) called 1925 male and female respondents (speaking either the standard or the regional variety). In Study 2, a female interviewer who mastered the standard accent and the regional variety, called 120 respondents from the same categories as in Study 1. The expectations were not confirmed. Interviewers with authority (male, speaking standard Dutch) had no more success than interviewers with less authority (female, speaking a regional accent), and agreement of gender and accent between interviewer and respondent had no impact on the level of cooperation of the respondents. The results seem to indicate that it is not necessary for research bureaus to reject potential employees with a regional accent or with a less authoritative voice, and that they do not need to make an effort to match interviewers and respondents in characteristics such as gender and accent.

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Palmen, M. , Gerritsen, M. & Bezooijen, R. (2012). The Effect of Interviewers’ and Respondents’ Accent and Gender on Willingness to Cooperate in Telephone Surveys. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 2, 159-169. doi: 10.4236/ojml.2012.24021.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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