Secret questions Some questions related to personal or private matters are called secret questions. Usually, we think that some questions involve some personal matters – such as the survey of sexual behaviors – always asked by a same gender interviewer. This kind of opinion is accepted by many fresh researchers in China. But if we think about it carefully, we may have the different answers. Objectively speaking, we can find many accoucheurs work in Chinese hospitals are male. Female patients always can tell their state of illness without hesitation or shame.
The reasons why there is no need to consider the gender problem happened in asking the secret questions is that in a public interview place, secret matter can be described as a scientific thing. Through that example, it is not hard for us to say that where the interview take place will affect the selection of interviewers’ gender. If the interview takes place in a respondent’s home, we should consider it carefully. Because if a woman stay at home alone, normally, she won’t accept a male interviewer to come into her room and ask her some questions about her sexual life.
Or even if the interview is going on in an interview room, it also makes a female respondent feel uncomfortable to answer this kind of question. So at that situation – if we need to do some research which may have some secret questions included in it or just the topic seems to be private – we should choose the interviewers restrainedly. My attitude towards it is that if we want to ask some questions about sexual life or other likely personally questions, maybe women interviewers will have obviously advantages to interview different respondents.
If we interview people in their home, two interviewers may looks safe, especially two women interviewers. “we ought to have women interviewers to interview women” , at this situation, it is right. Anonymity A few days before, many of my friends told me that they all paid their attention to the “China season” in Channel 4. We don’t discuss the content of it. I’m mainly focusing on the methods the journalists collect data in China.
After watching one of the piece named “Mao’s Children”, I find that it strange that people are more likely to say something when the interviewers are not belong to a special group – it is to say that the interviewers and the respondents are apart belong to different ethnic group. Hyman found that white interviewers received more socially acceptable responses from black respondents than from white respondents. Similarly, black and Oriental interviewers obtained more socially acceptable answers than did white interviewers, with the differences predictably being greatest on questions of race.
6 In fact, as well as race, characteristics such as age, sex, social class, and religion have proven to have an impact for which an allowance has to be made. Socially acceptable responses are particularly likely to represent convenient ways of dealing with interviewers rather than expressing the respondent’s actual view. 7 So it is not strange that Chinese people become more and more talkative when they face foreign journalists. It is also true when I do some research with my teacher in my undergraduate study in Shanghai University. The topic we choose is mainly focus on the group live in the lowest level of the whole social structure.
In our research, we called them “unequally treated people” (“ruo shi qun ti” in Chinses), includes: disable people, elderly people, the poorest people, and any other potential people live in a struggling situation of Shanghai. Because the report of this research is used for the government, when we do our research, we obtain the support of government. At first, with the guidance of government officials, it is easy for us to enter the interviewees’ home. But there is also a big problem occurs. Every time, government official will fellow one of our research groups to do interview.
The family will become restrictive when the group is followed by the government official. So afterwards, the group will go to that family again. Consequently, we can get much more information. It is because that when the official is here, the members of family will reluctant to say the shortcomings of government affairs, they will say something which is social acceptable instead of their actual ideas. That is to say, when we do some research related to politics, especially in a politics sensitively country (such as China), we should void to use the interviewers from government.
Maybe the interviewer selected from the same country can solve the cultural problem, but that may affect the result of research. Contrarily, interviewers look like different ethnic or race group can get more actual information. That is anonymity, which might have an effect on the social research. At this rate, a highly capable interviewer can entirely be competitive in interviewing people of different race, ethnic. At this time, the qualities of the interviewer are more important. Special problems of interview in the developing countries
As I mentioned above, there is a huge advantage of using the anonymity in the process of interview, but it is obvious in some field related to the politics or other sensitive questions. There are many special problems of conducting research in the field in the developing countries. There is a good case: In the Sudan, we found that rural people usually quite freely on such subjects as age and education (except in the case of family size and distribution by sexes). Our interviewees never like to talk about the family size of their families, and they feel very embarrassed when asked about the number of girls they have, their ages etc.