|dc.description.abstract||In many sociological books and in instructions for interviewers a directive can be found telling the interviewer to interview only the respondent himself. The presence of any third persons is considered to have negative influence on the respondents’ replies. The author has carried out research into the problem of third persons’ presence and the influence they may have on the respondents’ replies. The materials were collected with the help of questionnaires which were filled in immediately after every interview. The questionnaires were attached to 9 research programmes carried out by various research centres in various milieus all over Poland 8073 questionnaires were filled in.
The paper consists of two basic parts. In the first part the author presents various social situations in which respondents in the presence of third persons were interviewed. Analyses have proved that the percentage of interviews in which third persons took part is very high, it ranges from 27,4% to 63,7%, and it depends on the study itself, the total percentage amounts to 46,1. Third persons not only accompany the respondents, but also take part in their conversations and interfere with their replies. The percentage of interviews in which third persons did speak is – generally speaking – high and reaches 56,3%.
The presence of third persons during interviews and their participation in conversation depend on: 1. social and local conditions in which the research is carried out; 2. some demographic features of the respondents (sex, education, age etc.); 3. the relationship between the respondents and the persons who accompany them (wife, husband, various members of the family, or persons who do not belong to the family – friend s, neighbours etc.); 4. circumstances of the interview (e.g. place of the interview).
Among other things it was stated that third persons more frequently accompany the inhabitants of villages and small towns and less frequently the inhabitants of big towns and university graduates. It was also stated that third persons’ participation in the conversation depends on the contents of the question and the problem included in it.
The other part of the paper deals with the influence exercised by third persons on the respondents’ replies. In order to determine the influence replies to some questions in the questionnaires for interviewers in the presence of third persons were compared with those interviews during which no other persons were present. The following general conclusions may be formulated: The influence of third persons – generally speaking – is not strong. Differences between the percentage of replies of a definite kind given in the presence of third persons and those given without their presence amounts to 6 percentage points. But when influence is not considered as a general problem but attention is paid to the fact whether the persons and the respondents are close relations or not and how the third persons behave differences reach as many as 20 percentage points. Since the problem refers to definite categories of third persons, the differences do not concern many groups under investigation. The influence of third persons was very clear in questions which referred to those persons themselves or included values they themselves accepted. The influence was not always deforming – in some categories of questions – replies given in the presence of third persons may be looked upon as more reliable.
In the final part of the paper it was emphasized that:
1. The presence of third persons during interviews in Poland cannot be avoided.
2. Although, on the whole, the influence of third persons on the respondents' replies is not very strong, every sociologist must take in, into account. He should know in which interviews third persons took part and who they were so as to be able to correct the obtained results or at least indicate the direction of possible deviations.||