Quality of Life Research

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 219–227 | Cite as

Cognitive psychology and self-reports: Models and methods

  • Jared B. Jobe


This article describes the models and methods that cognitive psychologists and survey researchers use to evaluate and experimentally test cognitive issues in questionnaire design and subsequently improve self-report instruments. These models and methods assess the cognitive processes underlying how respondents comprehend and generate answers to self-report questions. Cognitive processing models are briefly described. Non-experimental methods – expert cognitive review, cognitive task analysis, focus groups, and cognitive interviews – are described. Examples are provided of how these methods were effectively used to identify cognitive self-report issues. Experimental methods – cognitive laboratory experiments, field tests, and experiments embedded in field surveys – are described. Examples are provided of: (a) how laboratory experiments were designed to test the capability and accuracy of respondents in performing the cognitive tasks required to answer self-report questions, (b) how a field experiment was conducted in which a cognitively designed questionnaire was effectively tested against the original questionnaire, and (c) how a cognitive experiment embedded in a field survey was conducted to test cognitive predictions.

Autobiographical memory Cognitive interviews Focus groups Information processing models 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jared B. Jobe
    • 1
  1. 1.National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteBethesdaUSA

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