Conrad’s PhD is in cognitive psychology from Chicago (1986). He was a post-doc at Carnegie Mellon University. He moved to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (1991) to study cognitive aspects of survey measurement. In 2002 he joined the Michigan Program in Survey Methodology which he now directs.
Conrad’s research generally concerns the application of ideas and methods from cognitive science and human computer interaction to survey methodology. For example, his most frequently cited papers explore “conversational interviews,” in which interviewers are empowered to clarify the intentions behind the questions using whatever words are required to do this. Although superficially at odds with the notion of standardized interviewing, Conrad and his collaborators have shown that conversational interviewing improves respondents’ understanding of the questions and the accuracy of their responses. In another research program, Conrad has explored the use of new technology in survey measurement. For example he is currently investigating the impact on response quality of collecting survey data via smartphones, in particular via spoken interviews versus SMS text interviews, in which the interviewers are either human or automated. It turns out text leads to better quality data by several measures; when respondents are given a choice of interview mode, this increases quality by the same measures. He is co-editor, with M. Schober of Envisioning the Survey Interview of the Future (Wiley, 2008). A third research program has concerned visual and interactive aspects of web surveys. For example, Conrad has explored the impact of progress indicators on completion of interviews (they generally harm completion); he has also explored the use of animated, virtual interviewers in web surveys (they generally elicit similar reactions to those of human interviewers, e.g., less disclosure of sensitive information but can better engage respondents than when no interviewing agent is present). He is co-author, with R. Tourangeau and M. Couper of The Science of Web Surveys (Oxford, in press).
Conrad, F., Broome, J., Benki, J., Kreuter, F., Groves, R., Vannette, D., McClain, C. (in press). Interviewer Speech and the Success of Survey Invitations. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: A.
Schober, M.F., Conrad, F.G, Dijkstra, W., & Ongena, Y. (in press). Disfluencies and gaze aversion in unreliable responses to survey questions. Journal of Official Statistics.
Traugott, M. W. and Conrad, F.G. (2012). Confidence in the electoral system: Why we do auditing. In Alvarez, R. M., Atkeson, L.R. & Hall, T.E. (Eds.) Confirming elections: Creating confidence and integrity through election auditing (41-56). New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Freedman, V. A., Stafford, F., Schwarz, N., and Conrad, F. (in press). Measuring Time Use of Older Couples: Lessons from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Field Methods, 25.
Brown, N. R., Hansen, T. G. B., Lee, P. J., Vanderveen, S. A., & Conrad, F. G. (2012). Historically-defined autobiographical periods: Their origins and implications. In D. Berntsen & D. Rubin (Eds). Understanding autobiographical memories: Theories and approaches (pp. 160-180). Cambridge: Cambridge.
Freedman, V.A., Stafford, F., Conrad, F. & Schwarz, N. (2012). Time Together: An Assessment of Diary Quality For Older Couples. Annals of Statistics and Economics, 105-106, 271-289.
Freedman, V. A., Stafford, F., Schwarz, N., and Conrad, F. (2012). Disability, Participation, and Subjective Wellbeing Among Older Couples. Social Science & Medicine. 74, 588-96.
Blair, J. & Conrad, F.G. (2011). Sample size for cognitive interview pretesting. Public Opinion Quarterly, 75, 636-658.
Conrad, F.G. (2011). Response 2 to Miller’s Chapter: Cognitive Interviewing. In Madans, J., Miller K., Maitland, A., and Willis, G. (Eds.). Question Evaluation Methods (pp. 93-102). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
Yan, T., Conrad, F.G., Couper, M.P. & Tourangeau, R. (2011). Should I stay or should I go: The effects of progress feedback, promised task duration, and length of questionnaire on completing web surveys. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 23, 131-147.
Couper, M., Kennedy, C., Conrad, F. & Tourangeau, R. (2011) . Designing input fields for non-narrative open-ended responses in web surveys. Journal of Official Statistics, 27, 65-85.
Houle, C., Joseph, L.M., Caldwell, C.H., Conrad, F.G., Parker, E.A. (2011). Congruence between urban adolescent and caregiver responses to questions about the adolescent’s asthma. Journal of Urban Health, 88, 30-40.
Conrad, F. G., Couper, M. P., Tourangeau, R. & Peytchev, A. (2010). Impact of progress indicators on task completion. Interacting with Computers, 22, 417–427.
Couper, M.P., Singer, E., Conrad, F.G., Groves, R. M. (2010). Experimental studies of disclosure risk, disclosure harm, topic sensitivity, and survey participation. Journal of Official Statistics, 26.287-300.
Hanmer, M.J., Park W-H., Traugott, M.W., Niemi, R. G., Herrnson, P. S., Bederson, B. B., Conrad, F. G. (2010) Losing Fewer Votes: The Impact of Changing Voting Systems on Residual Votes. Political Research Quarterly. 63, 129-143.
Peytchev, A., Conrad, F.G., Couper, M.P & Tourangeau, R. (2010). Increasing respondents’ use of definitions in web surveys. Journal of Official Statistics, 26, 630-350.
Brown, N., Lee, P., Krslak, M., Conrad, F., Hansen, T., Havelka, J., Reddon, J. (2009). Autobiographical memory, war, terrorism. Psychological Science, 20 399-405.
Conrad, F. G. and Blair, J. (2009). Sources of error in cognitive interviews. Public Opinion Quarterly, 73, 32-55.
Conrad, F.G., Rips, L.J. & Fricker, S.S. (2009). Seam effects in quantitative responses. Journal of Official Statistics. 25, 339–361.
Conrad, F.G., Bederson, B. B., Lewis, B. , Traugott, M. W., Hanmer, M. J., Herrnson, P. S., Niemi, R. G. & Peytcheva, E. (2009). Electronic voting eliminates hanging chads but introduces new usability challenges. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. 67, 111-124.
Galesic,. M., Tourangeau. R., Couper, M.P., & Conrad, F.G. (2009). Eye-tracking data: New insights on response order effects and other cognitive shortcuts in survey responding. Public Opinion Quarterly, 72, 892-913.
Herrnson, P.S., Niemi, R.G., Hanmer, M. J., Francia, P.J., Bederson, B.B., Conrad, F.G., and Traugott, M.W. (2008) Voter reactions to electronic voting systems: Results from a usability field test. American Politics Research., 36, 580-611
Conrad, F.G. & Schober, M.F. (2008). New frontiers in standardized survey interviewing. In Hesse-Biber, S.N. & Leavey, P. (Ed.) Handbook of Emergent Methods in Social Research (pp. 173-188). New York: NY: Guilford Publications.
Couper, M. P., Singer, E., Conrad, F., & Groves, R.M. (2008). Risk of disclosure, perceptions of risk, and concerns about privacy and confidentiality as factors in survey participation. Journal of Official Statistics, 24, 255-275.
Conrad, F.G., Schober, M. F. & Dijkstra, W. (2008). Cues of communication difficulty in telephone interviews. In Lepkowski, J.M., Tucker, C., Brick, M., de Leeuw, E., Japec, L., Lavrakas, P., Link, M. & Sangster, R. (Eds). Advances in telephone survey methodology (pp. 212-230). New York: Wiley.