Through the eyes of the interviewer, through the eyes of the respondent: outlining a new approach towards the assessment of cognitive load during the interview




interview-induced cognitive load, subjective cognitive load measurement methods, objective cognitive loads


There is a widely held opinion in sociological methodology that the survey tools intermediating between interviewer and respondent affects the quality of information obtained during the interview. However, despite multiple methods of assessment of survey tools and detection of measurement bias, there is still a lack of techniques of quantitative assessment of cognitive load on the interviewer and the respondent during the interview. In case of personal interview, both interviewer and respondent are required physical and, to a larger extent, cognitive efforts to produce the information needed. In case of interviewer-assisted questionnaire, it is the interviewer’s responsibility to allocate limited individual resources related to attention, memory, visual and motor control, active listening and interpretation to minimize respondent’s misunderstanding of the questions and the mistakes made by interviewer while recording the answers; thus, the interviewer is required to possess meta-cognitive and self-regulatory skills. The interviewer might experience cognitive overload when performing multiple tasks during the interview such as sustaining the contact with respondents, carrying out control over his/her own actions during the questionnaire completion and control over the work of office equipment while simultaneously recording possible violations detected during the interview; the cognitive overload may eventually lead to low-quality data. However, the sociologists’ attention to the measurement of cognitive overload during the interview has been minimal so far. The article provides the results of an analytical review of traditional and new approaches to the measurement of cognitive load used in the areas of cognitive science, ergonomics, learning process studies and problem solving. The authors substantiate a possibility to employ them in quantitative evaluation and optimization of cognitive load experienced by interviewer (and further by respondent) and outline the immediate prospects of a research program aimed to design an integral methodological approach towards the use of multiple cognitive load indicators (based both on retrospective self-report and physiological and behavioral data) in various surveys.