Introducing the Qualitative Pretest Interview (QPI) for questionnaire development | Munich Center for the Economics of Aging - MEA

Introducing the Qualitative Pretest Interview (QPI) for questionnaire development


Cognitive interviews have become one of the most important pretest methods in the development and evaluation of questionnaires. Different techniques such as thinking aloud or various probing approaches analyse the comprehensibility and interpretation of questions, uncover difficulties of respondents in answering questionnaires as well as underlying causes. A desideratum of this approach is the methodological framing for which we make a proposal in this article. Direct research interaction in pretest situations can be regarded as an act of understanding others in the sense of qualitative-interpretive social research. On this basis, we discuss the advantage of methodically integrated communication strategies of two established qualitative survey methods - the problem-centred interview and the discursive interview - for the development of a distinct pretest interview approach. It adopts the techniques of the cognitive interview and expands them by the essentially social character of processes of clarifying comprehension. We introduce the term Qualitative Pretest Interview (QPI) in order to avoid the possible narrowing of the understanding of pretest procedures to the problem of ambiguous cognitions. Finally, we reflect on the potential of this approach for standardized survey research.


Christina Buschle

Herwig Reiter


Arne Bethmann

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