Techniques and tools to support respondents‘ memory process in computer-aided retrospective life course interview

Britta Matthes, Maike Reimer, Ralf Künster


Surveys of retrospective life history data show that respondents face various degrees of difficulty when recalling and dating autobiographical events and episodes. The data of previous life course interviews conducted by the Max-Planck-Institute for Human Development (German Life History Study) were therefore edited through time- and labor-intensive processes. In order to reduce these immense efforts during editing and to improve data quality while conducting the interviews, we investigated how autobiographical recalling and dating works from the cognitive psychological point of view. We then put our findings into practice developing an instrument called „True Tales“. This instrument allows the collection of retrospective life course data in computer-aided telephone interviews. Different techniques and tools are applied so that interviewers can support respondents’ memory processes more intensively and effectively than previously possible.

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Copyright (c) 2016 Britta Matthes, Maike Reimer, Ralf Künster

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