Do survey participants in conflict zones respond differently if they have been interviewed before? Academic and policy interest in postwar political opinion has increased tremendously. One unexpected consequence of this surge of survey research is a growing probability that individuals will be interviewed multiple times. However, if participating in one survey causes respondents to change their attitudes or behavior, their subsequent survey responses may be biased in comparison to the rest of the sample population. Our article aims to investigate such ‘survey participation effects’ in conflict contexts. We draw on original survey data collected in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In our representative sample, 18% of respondents report that they have been interviewed before. Multivariate analyses demonstrate that their stated attitudes on social relations, political institutions, gender norms, and wartime victimization differ substantively from the responses of first-time interviewees. Moreover, our analyses indicate that experienced respondents have specific response styles – in particular, a tendency to support extreme response options. While substantive bias in multivariate analyses seems to be rather rare, our findings indicate that researchers should be aware of the footprints of data collection efforts in areas frequently targeted by household and opinion surveys.

Alexander De Juan

University of Osnabrück