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  • 00:01

    [MUSIC PLAYING]Quantitative research is about beingable to say something about your population of interest.So it takes a representative sample,and then it asks them questions that are closed or precoded,

  • 00:25

    and that way we can get usable data back to use in analysis.The British Social Attitudes Surveyis NatCen's flagship survey.It's carried out face to face, so the interviewersgo to the addresses that have been selected,and seek to carry out interviews.It's a survey of people's attitudes, values,

  • 00:47

    what they think about a whole range of different topics.It's not a longitudinal survey, though.Every year it's a different sample of respondents.And that allows us to look at data over timeand see how attitudes are changing.It's quite an influential survey.Results are widely used across academia, some journalists,policy makers.

  • 01:07

    I've been working on British Social Attitudes for about18 months now, so I've been involvedin a whole cycle of BSA, say, from seeking funding,through the question design process,piloting the questions to make sure that they work properlyand how we want them to.And then also being involved in writing up

  • 01:28

    the data that we've collected.And then being involved, also, in the disseminationof those findings.So obviously it's a study about attitudes,about what people think, rather than their behavior.So we want to speak to everyone, all types of people.And if people don't have an opinion about something,that's fine.Today we're briefing our newer interviewers

  • 01:51

    on how to go out and do British Social Attitudes in the field.So we're training them about what's in the survey,how to actually administer the survey.And also, really importantly, tryingto enthuse them and motivate them, and impresson them how important BSA is, and whywe want them to do really well with it, and, importantly,

  • 02:12

    get a good response rate, as well.Today's briefing helps us in carrying out the interviewsthrough getting some extra tips on the waysthat we can encourage people to take part.In particular, it tells us the peoplethat are funding this, who are behind it,and the people that it's really going to benefit,and who are really going to get the value out of it.

  • 02:32

    BSA asks about a large number of topics each year.And they do change from year to year,depending on the types of funding that we have.So we have some long-term funders, like the Departmentfor Work and Pensions, and the Department for Transport.But we also have funders which may fund some questionson a particular year.We also have some key questions that we ask every year

  • 02:54

    about people's demographics.And it's key that we get that information,because one of the key things we want to look atis whether different types of peoplehave different opinions about different things.The organization that actually funds these questions, mainlyon the NHS, is an organization calledthe King's Fund, which is an independent health charity

  • 03:14

    The researchers went thoroughly through what BSA is all about,how it impacts, how it works.It's given me a better understandingof the documents we're going to receive in the briefing pack.One of the sessions at the briefing todaywas trying to get interviewers to think about top tipsfor going out and working on the study.And that was partly to think about just things

  • 03:37

    like being organized with their workloads and their work packs.But we also try and share tips between interviewersabout just ways to generate a positive responseon the doorstep.How to avoid refusals.The processing that we did today,we're trying to introduce the topics thatare going to be part of this year's BSA to the interviewers.

  • 03:59

    So we really wanted to get them talking about someof the topics first.And then, when we went through the questions,I was able to get their input, rather than just telling themabout it.One of the topics we talked aboutwas social welfare and welfare benefits.The Department for Work and Pensionshas funded these questions going all the way back to the 1980s.

  • 04:22

    So we've got a really good time series of questionsto be able to see how people's attitudes havechanged over time.One of the other topics on this year's surveyis the European Union.David Cameron's in negotiations to havea referendum on Britain's membership of the EuropeanUnion within the next 18 months.And the interviewers were absolutelycorrect as to why it is such a hot topic,

  • 04:43

    and why I think people will reallybe interested in answering these questions.Because I think it's something that people willhave quite strong feelings on.Briefings like this give you an insight into, firstly,of course, the rules of this particular survey,the various wrinkles it will contain,the important bits that you must remember.It also helps to come here and talk to other interviewers,

  • 05:05

    because they tell us about their horror stories,or their problem interviews.And you gain more experience that way.With this project it's our own, so we produce our own reportevery year, the year after the data is collected.And we can shape that.And with colleagues like Sophie in the media team,

  • 05:25

    it really does make a big splash every year.So it's definitely the project thatgets us the most coverage in that sense.It was really important that we got across to themwhat BSA is all about, and how important it is,and to really emphasize to them how important itis to really try and hit the response ratetargets that we need to.

  • 05:47

    And also to make sure that they understandhow to actually conduct this particular surveyin the correct manner.And I think for them to be able to come togetherand share experiences, and share tips of how to do things,is good in itself.Eligibility for the survey is any adult aged 18 or over,so when they make contact at the household,

  • 06:08

    they will ask how many adults live at the address.And then they actually use a formthat they have to hand on the doorstep to orderthose names alphabetically.And then we have a random, numbered gridthat they use to select which person to interview.Once you've selected that person,that's the person we want to take part.And even if they're unavailable, or they're not

  • 06:29

    willing to take part, we don't take anyone in their place.If you don't do that, what you end uphaving is a sample of people who arewilling to take part, who have got something to say,feel strongly about it, or people who are justmore available than others.And, in practice, that means certain demographic groupsbecome overrepresented.Say, for example, people who are retired,

  • 06:51

    or people who stay at home and don't have a job,will become overrepresented in your sample.So in this survey interview, one of the thingsthat's really important is that we've designed the questionsto be exactly as we want them, to measure a particular conceptor attitude.And one thing we ask our interviewers to do, then,is to read the question verbatim.

  • 07:11

    There's a bit of a knack for asking the questionsin an attitude survey, which is to get the right kind of pacefor your interview.Asking the questions, giving the respondent enough time to thinkabout what you said.But, at the same time, we don't want the respondentto have so much time that they weigh everything upto the nth degree, and start discussingthe reasons behind their judgement and the answer

  • 07:34

    they've given.We're asking questions about mental well-being,about alcohol use, about obesity--This year, we're covering health in general,and specifically the NHS.We're also looking at obesity, mental health, woman'swell-being, dementia, alcohol.And then we've also got separate topics--

  • 07:57

    social class, transports, welfare, the European Union,politics-- and it's going to be fascinating to lookat what people think.The BSA sample covers England, Wales, and Scotland.And each year we're aiming to interview between around 3,000to 4,000 respondents.Because we've been going for over 30 years now,

  • 08:18

    that means that, over time, we'regetting up to nearly 100,000 respondentshave taken part across all the years of the survey.There's quite a lot of challenges around justactually securing consent to take part,and that's the first part of their job,but probably the hardest bit.Most people rather resent people turning upout of the blue on their doorstep.

  • 08:40

    They usually think we're trying to sell something.Maybe the kids are crying in the back,and they've just had a row with their husband or wife.And you have to find your way through thatand get them interested in what you'redoing, what you want to know, and make it sound like fun,perhaps.Over the period that BSA has been running, over the last 30

  • 09:01

    years or so, response rates across a range of surveyshave definitely fallen.And I think it's a real challenge for the interviewersnow to really try and keep those response rates up.One of the tools we use to try to maintain a good responserate, and even to improve it, hopefully,is the use of incentives.We send an advance letter.

  • 09:21

    There is a 15 pound post office voucher.This is what we call an unconditional incentive.If they want, they can cash that incentive,and there's no obligation for themto take part in the interview.There are different ways of doing it,so on some othersurveys, you would give the incentive after.On BSA, we've decided that it's best

  • 09:44

    to do this unconditional incentive.And the hope, I guess, is that some kind of relationshipor feeling might be developed between the person who'sreceived that incentive, and then, when the interviewercomes to see them at the address,they may feel that, because of that,

  • 10:04

    they would like to take part.When you first approach a door, you reallyhave very little idea of who's goingto be behind that door, what their issues are going to be.As you approach, you can get a few ideasabout what's behind it.You can often tell if it's a household with children in it.You can often tell if it's a household with people

  • 10:25

    who are disabled, or elderly.But the individual, personal thingsthat happened in their life in the last few days,the last few weeks-- you just don't know what'sgoing to be behind that door.So one of the first challenges is in responding to that,to be adaptable, and to know how to respond to almost anythingthat you can face.

  • 10:46

    One of the things that probably has changed somewhatsince BSA started, for example, isthere are more people in the workforce, in general.More difficult to find people at home during the day.I think there's probably some evidence around people feelingless willing that they have some kind of dutyto answer these types of surveys.

  • 11:07

    Perhaps people were asked more about things,there's more selling going on, more cold calling.Perhaps people are a bit more reluctant to even openthe door in some cases.I think days like today at the briefingare so important because of these challengesaround keeping response rates up, and even getting people

  • 11:28

    on the doorstep to engage.That's so important.If we can give the interviewers the toolsto be able to do that, and to be able to say, look,this is really interesting, I'd saythat's one of the key aspects of today.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Video Info

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Publication Year: 2017

Video Type:In Practice

Methods: Survey research, Structured interviews, Interview guides

Keywords: challenges, issues, and controversies; change detection; European Union; motivation; pacing; Social attitudes; Social welfare; training ... Show More

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Researchers explain the British Social Attitudes Survey, its history and its goals. Every year, a cohort of interviewers asks the British public for their attitudes and impressions on a wide variety of subjects. The project has been ongoing for more than 30 years.

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Quantitative Interviewing: British Social Attitudes Survey

Researchers explain the British Social Attitudes Survey, its history and its goals. Every year, a cohort of interviewers asks the British public for their attitudes and impressions on a wide variety of subjects. The project has been ongoing for more than 30 years.

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