Selecting respondents

When random samples are used, unless the interviewer does not do the callback as instructed, he or she can do very little to affect the selection of respondents, since a list of specific names and addresses to interview is given. However, in quota samples the selection of actual respondents is in the hands of the interviewers. Quota sampling is often used because it is cheaper than random sampling, since it uses interviewer time more efficiently. In practice, the main difference between respondents obtained through the use of the quota sampling and random sampling methods is that when quota samples are used then extreme and unusual types of respondent are less likely to be included.

For example, in the AB class category respondents are more likely to be Bs than As and in the DE class category respondents are more likely to be Ds than Es in quota sampling. The reason for this is that these are the kinds of respondents that it is easier for the interviewer to identify.

If the interviewer has to contact a certain number of respondents of a particular occupation type then most experienced interviewers will know where in their area that type of respondent is more likely to be found. This results in middle-class respondents who live in middle-class areas having a greater chance of being included in the sample than middle-class respondents who live in mixed class areas, and so on. Similarly, certain types of manual occupation are more likely to be represented.

For example, bus drivers are commonly included because interviewers know that they will be able to find them and interview them easily at their place of work. A gatekeeper in a Newcastle factory admitted having been interviewed 60 times in the preceding month since whenever interviewers in his area required an individual for a quota sample which matched his profile they knew just where to find him, a warm fire, a friendly welcome and a cup of tea!

Random route and random location sampling procedures attempt to overcome some of these problems by restricting interviewers' choice of respondent.

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