Volume 8 Issue 1 (2012)
Main Articles

Sample Survey on Sensitive Topics: Investigating Respondents' Understanding and Trust in Alternative Versions of the Randomized Response Technique

Annelies De Schrijver
Leuvens Instituut voor Criminologie (LINC)
Published May 31, 2012
  • misreporting,
  • non-response,
  • randomized response technique,
  • sensitive topic


In social science research, survey respondents hesitate to answer sensitive questions. This explains why traditional self-report surveys often suffer from high levels of non-response and dishonest answers. To overcome these problems, an adjusted questioning technique is necessary. This article examines one such adjusted questioning technique: the randomized response technique. However, in order to obtain reliable and valid data, respondents need to understand and trust this technique. Respondents' understanding and trust are assessed in two online variants of the randomized response technique: (a) forced response and (b) unrelated question. Results show that understanding was significantly higher in the forced-response condition. Respondents' trust, however, was low in both conditions.