Indirect questioning methods for sensitive survey questions: Modelling criminal behaviours among a prison population
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Public Library Science
Cobo B, Castillo E, Lo´pez-Torrecillas F, Rueda MdM (2021) Indirect questioning methods for sensitive survey questions: Modelling criminal behaviours among a prison population. PLoS ONE 16(1): e0245550. [https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0245550]
SponsorshipMinisterio de Economía y Competitividad of Spain MTM2015-63609-R PID2029-106861RB-I00
Information such as the prevalence and frequency of criminal behaviour is difficult to estimate using standard survey techniques because of the tendency of respondents to withhold or misrepresent information. Social desirability bias is a significant threat to the validity of self-reported data, especially when supplied by persons such as sexual offenders or those convicted of theft or substance abuse. The randomized response approach is an alternative to the standard interview method and offers great potential for researchers in the field of criminal justice. By means of a survey of 792 prison inmates, incorporating both indirect and direct response techniques, we investigate if the prison population also has problems recognizing their participation in criminal acts such as theft, illicit drug use, violence against property, reckless driving and arson. Our research findings suggest that self-reported criminal behaviour among a prison population is affected by social desirability bias and that the behaviour considered is significantly associated with the severity of obsessive-compulsive symptoms. The results also demonstrate the inadequacy of traditional, yet widely used, direct questioning methods, and the great potential for indirect questioning techniques to advance policy formation and evaluation in the field of criminal behaviour.