Stefkovics, Ádám (2022) Are you listening? Examining the level of multitasking and distractions and their impact on data quality in a telephone survey. Survey Methods: Insights from the Field. Retrieved from https://surveyinsights.org/?p=16622
Earlier studies suggest that multitasking and distractions are common in telephone surveys. When respondents engage in secondary activities or are being distracted, they may not be able to fully engage in the cognitive process of answering survey questions. As a result, multitasking may harm data quality. To assess the level of multitasking and distractions and their impact on data quality I draw on self-reports from a telephone survey (N=1000) conducted in Hungary in 2021. The results show that the majority of respondents were multitasking, whereas only 7.5 percent got distracted during the survey. Few factors predicted multitasking and distractions, while multitasking, distractions, and attention went hand in hand. Although multitasking was common, no strong negative effect of multitasking or distractions on data quality was found. The findings indicate that in relatively short telephone surveys, with a low cognitive burden on respondents, multitasking may not be a cause for concern.