Loftus, Elizabeth F.; Klinger, Mark R.; Smith, Kyle D.; Fiedler, Judith
September 1990
Public Opinion Quarterly;Fall90, Vol. 54 Issue 3, p330
Academic Journal
In the last two months have you had a physical examination? The ability of 660 people to accurately report on their own recent health procedures was assessed by comparing the recollections of patients to information extracted from their medical records. A major finding was that when people were asked whether they had a specific procedure in a given reference period (e.g., physical exam within the last two months). overreporting occurred. A simple technique reduced overreporting. The technique entailed asking people about the procedure twice, first in connection with a different reference period (e.g., physical exam within the last six months) and then in connection with the reference period of interest (e g., physical exam within the last two months). Our data support a "Precision" hypothesis: The advantage of the two-time frame questioning procedure is that it conveys to the respondent that the interviewer wants greater precision in dating than the single-time frame question implies.


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