The effect of rapport on data quality in face-to-face interviews: Beneficial or detrimental?

Melany Horsfall*, Merijn Eikelenboom, Stasja Draisma, Johannes H. Smit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The benefits of rapport between interviewers and respondents, in terms of recruiting the latter and motiving them to participate in research, have been generally endorsed. However, there has been less clarity with regard to the association between rapport and data quality. In theory, rapport could be beneficial if it motivates people to give complete and honest responses. On the other hand, efforts to maintain rapport by exhibiting pleasing and socially desirable behaviour could well be detrimental to data quality. In a large longitudinal epidemiological sample, generalized estimating equations (GEE) analyses were used to examine the association between rapport and the following three quality indicators: missing responses, responses to sensitive questions, and consistency of responses. The results of these analyses indicate an association between a high level of rapport and fewer missing responses. In contrast, we found more socially desirable responses for the high-rapport group. Finally, the high-rapport group did not differ from the low-rapport group in terms of the consistency of their responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10858
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2021

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