The Charles Cannell Fund in Survey Methodology

The Charles Cannell Fund in Survey Methodology of the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan was established by students, colleagues and friends of Charlie to honor him as a mentor and to further research and training on the interviewer-respondent interaction and its effects on the validity and quality of survey data.


Charles Cannell

Charles Cannell

In making awards, special emphasis will be placed on efforts to develop social psychological theories, test hypotheses and techniques derived from these theories, and develop techniques for measuring and improving the interaction between the respondent and the interviewer. Preference will be given to proposals that examine respondent and interviewer behavior as opposed to inferring the behavior based on statistical analysis. Possible uses of the funds include, but are not limited to, support related to dissertation research by a graduate student, small experimental studies by graduate students or junior researchers, or visiting scholars conducting related research. Special attention will be given to activities that will produce results that are visible in the field and that will attract or sustain interest in research related to the interaction between the interviewer and the respondent. Awardees will be invited to present findings from their research to the research staff of the Survey Research Center.


Junior researchers, including Graduate Students, Assistant Research Scientists, Assistant Professors, Research Investigators, and Postdoctoral Fellows are eligible. Other things being equal, preference will be given to graduate students for research or training carried out at the University of Michigan.

Application Procedure

View/download application guidelines (PDF 28K)

Cannell Fund Committee Members

  • Fred Conrad, University of Michigan
  • Floyd Fowler, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Frauke Kreuter, University of Maryland
  • Nancy Mathiowetz, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, chair
  • Nora Cate Schaeffer, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Cannell Fund Recipients and Their Projects


Kristen Cibelli Hibben is conducting two studies as part of her dissertation research in the Michigan Program in Survey Methodology. The first is to examine the effect of asking for respondent commitment, tailored feedback, and contextual recall cues on the accuracy of reported medical visits in an online survey of parents regarding their child’s medical care. The second study looks at the effect of asking for respondent commitment versus providing information about the behavior of one’s peers in improving data quality in a cross-cultural web survey of American and Chinese university students.

Jennifer Sinibaldi Jennifer Sinibaldi is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Joint Program in Survey Methodology, at the University of Maryland. Her Cannell funded project will investigate the decisions and practices of interviewers when soliciting cooperation from households for face-to-face studies. Her other research interests involve the study of paradata for nonresponse adjustment and responsive survey design. Jennifer received her Master’s from the Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Michigan and her PhD from LMU in Munich, Germany.

Hanyu Sun is investigating whether rapport can be similarly established in a video-mediated and computer-assisted personal interviews, whether video-mediated interviews increase disclosure of moderately sensitive information to the same extent as CAPI, and whether the interaction between the interviewer and respondent in the preceding module (CAPI or video-mediated) has an effect on the reporting of sensitive information in the subsequent ACASI module. Hanyu is a doctoral candidate in the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland.


In 2013, the Cannell Fund co-sponsored the Interviewer-Respondent Interaction Workshop, May 15-16, in Boston, immediately preceding the 68th Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. For more information about the workshop, visit the Workshop website.


Dana Garbarski, 2012-2013 Cannell Fund winner. Read her profile. Photo courtesy of Dana Garbarski.

Dana Garbarski studies the interaction between interviewers and respondents regarding end-of-life treatment preferences and that of their spouses in order to better understand interactional “rapport” both conceptually and empirically. Garbarski received her Ph.D. in Sociology and an M.S. in Population Health Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in August of 2012. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher on Health Disparities Research Scholars program through the Center for Women’s Health and Health Disparities Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Read Dana Garbarski’s profile.)

Julie Korbmacher and Ulrich Krieger, researchers at the Munich Center for the Economics of Aging with is part of the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, are examining interviewer influence on cooperation rates and survey quality in the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). They will interview interviewers who all work for the same survey but in different countries. It is of special interest to their research how interviewers’ attitudes towards the SHARE influence their performance on response rate and nonresponse on sensitive questions which interviewers have been shown to have some influence. Julie is a Ph.D. student in statistics at the LMU in Munich and expects to receive her doctorate in 2013. Ulrich is in his last year of his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Mannheim.


Brady West‘s research, “The Error Properties of Interviewer Observations and their Implications for Nonresponse Adjustment of Survey Estimates,” attempts to fill in some of the gaps left by nonresponse. West received his Ph.D. in Survey Methodology from the University of Michigan in 2011. He is now an Assistant Research Professor in the Survey Methodology Program and an Assistant Research Scientist at the Center for Statistical Consultation and Research at the University of Michigan. (Read Brady West’s profile.)

Jessica Broome is in her third year of the Program in Survey Methodology Ph.D. program. Her research concerns telephone interviewers’ differential success in recruiting potential respondents, and, in particular, how their vocal and verbal attributes might affect this. Broome expects to receive her doctorate in 2012.


Rebecca Rosen‘s research, “Effects of mode, mood, and interviewer on self-report of sensitive behavior and psychological distress,” seeks to assess the effect of mood and interviewer characteristics when face-to-face interviews are conducted about sensitive issues. Her study focuses on depressed college students and will be carried out at the New School for Social Research. Rosen is a Ph.D. student in Clinical Psychology at the New School and expects to receive her doctorate in April 2011.

Ashley Bowers‘s research, “An Investigation of the Effects of Job Attitudes on Interviewer Turnover and Quality of Job Performance in U.S. and Canadian Centralized Telephone Interviewing Facilities,” is an initial step to fill the gap in the understanding of the effects of interviewer job attitudes on job outcomes as well as the cost and data quality of the data collected. Her research design includes both a quantitative phase and a qualitative phase to study these effects in several centralized telephone interviewing facilities. Bowers expects to receive her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan Program in Survey Methodology in 2012. She is currently the Director of the Center for Survey Research, and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

2009 – 2010

Stephanie Eckman‘s dissertation, “Errors in Housing Unit Listing and Their Effects on Survey Estimates,” (PDF 924K) explores the mechanisms of error in interviewer created housing unit listing, using original data collection in conjunction with the National Survey of Family Growth. Eckman received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland’s Joint Program in Survey Methodology in 2010. She is currently employed as a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Employment Research in Nuremberg, Germany.

Ipek Bilgen‘s research, “Is Less More & More Less…? The Effect of Two Types of Interviewer Experience on ‘Don’t Know’ Responses in Calendar and Standardized Interviews,” (PDF 2 MB) explores the effect of interpersonal communication dynamics and retrieval strategies on item non-response in an interviewer-administered telephone survey. This study also appraises the influence of survey-specific and general interviewer experience on interviewers’ behavior and perception change. Standardized and calendar interviewing techniques are the two different methods explored in this study. Bilgen received her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and is currently a Survey Methodologist with NORC at the University of Chicago. She presented “The Effect of Interviewer Experience on Item Non-Response: A Verbal Behavior Study” (PDF 283K) at AAPOR in 2011.

2008 – 2009

Matthew Jans‘s dissertation, “Can Speech Cues and Voice Qualities Predict Item Nonresponse and Inaccuracies in Answers to Sensitive Questions,” (PDF 2MB) explores the impact of speech and voice quality (change in pitch, pauses and repairs) on the quality of responses to sensitive questions in surveys. Jans received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan Program in Survey Methodology in 2009. He presented “Using Respondent Verbal Paradata to Predict Income Nonoresponse: How They Say it Can Predict What They’ll Say,” (PDF 303KB) at AAPOR in 2010. Jans is currently employed as a Social Science Analyst in the Center for Survey Measurement at the U.S. Census Bureau.

Brooke Foucault‘s research will use a series of studies to explore rapport between the interviewer and the respondent. Her goal is to develop a more robust understanding of rapport, including a detailed understanding of which components and surface-level behaviors increase socially desirable responses. In 2009, she and her colleagues presented “Nonveral Correlates of Survey Rapport” (PDF 90KB) at AAPOR. Foucault is a Ph.D. student in Northwestern University’s School of Communications, Program Media, Technology and Society.

2007 – 2008

Rachel Davis‘s dissertation, “Whatever it Means to You: Ethnicity, Language, and the Survey Response in Telephone-Administered Health Surveys of African Americans,” (PDF 475KB) explores the impact of race and ethnic identity on health survey data, interviewer race preferences, and ratings of interviewers among African American telephone survey respondents. Davis received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education in 2008. She is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Human Nutrition Program, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan. Research publications based on her Cannell funded research include “Preferences for Interviewer Dialect Use and Race among African American Health Survey Respondents” (PDF 192K) and “Interviewer Effects in Public Health Surveys.”

Laura Lind‘s research, “The Use of Animated Agents in Surveys: How Does Manipulating the Level of Animation and Interactivity of a Computerized Interviewing Agent Affect Respondents Answers to Sensitive Survey Questions” is a lab-based experimental study of how respondents answers to sensitive survey questions are affected by four different modes of survey administration (A-CASI administration, low-end animated agent, high-end animated agent and traditional face-to-face interviews). Lind received her Pd.D. from the New School for Social Research in Cognitive, Social, & Developmental Psychology in 2008. This research publication, “Why Do Survey Respondents Disclose More When Computers Ask the Questions?” is based on her Cannell Funded research.


No awards were made.

2005 – 2006

David Wilson‘s research, “An Experimental Approach to Estimating Race of Interviewer Effects in Telephone Interviews,” is an experimental study of how the perception of interviewer’s race in telephone surveys affects responses to different kinds of interview content. Wilson received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2005 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware. “Statistical Profiles of Race of Interviewer Perceptibility in National Surveys” (PDF 96K) is based on Wilson’s work funded by the Cannell Fund.

Lindsay Benstead is currently an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. “Effects of Interviewer Gender and Hijab on Gender-Related Survey Responses: Findings from a Nationally-Representative Field Experiment in Morocco” (PDF 373K) was made possible in part by the award from The Cannell Fund.

Jennifer Dykema received support for digitizing tape-recordings of interviewer-respondent interactions that will allow her to continue her research on how these interactions affect the quality of survey responses. Dykema received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in Sociology in 2004. She is a Senior Research Scientist and the Survey Methodologist at the University of Wisconsin Survey Center.

2004 – 2005

Patrick Ehlen‘s research, “The Dynamic Role of Some Conversational Cues in the Process of Referential Alignment,” focuses on conceptual alignment in answers to survey questions, or how well the concept held by the respondent matches that intended by the designer of the question. The goal is to identify speech behaviors that might indicate conceptual misalignment in order to improve the question-and-answer process. Ehlen is now working on the telephone survey implications of the widespread use of mobile phones in the United States. “Cellular-only Substitution in the United States as Lifestyle Adoption: Implications for Telephone Survey Coverage” was published in Public Opinion Quarterly in 2007, and Ehlen gave a presentation (PDF 112K) of similar research in September, 2008 at the DC AAPOR Workshop. At the 2008 Annual AAPOR Conference, Ehlen presented, “Predicting Survey Bias in a Brave New Mobile World: Using the Behavioral Theory of Lifestyle Adoption to Model and Predict Cellular-Only and New Communications Technology Substitution Coverage in the US” (PDF 112K). Ehlen is currently a Principal Member of Technical Staff at AT&T, and collaborating with ISR on NSF-funded research on multimodal survey interviews, which was presented at AAPOR 2012.

Frauke Kreuter‘s research, “Interviewer Effects as a Function of Respondents, Interviewer and Question Type,” will develop a theoretical model to help identify, measure, and reduce interviewer effects in surveys by taking into account the interaction of the respondent, the interviewer, and the properties of the survey question. Kreuter is currently an Assistant Professor in the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland.