Hostname: page-component-7d684dbfc8-w65q4 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-09-22T09:07:04.967Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForArticlePurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForBookPurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForElementPurchase": false, "coreUseNewShare": true, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Religiosity-of-Interviewer Effects: Assessing the Impact of Veiled Enumerators on Survey Response in Egypt

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2013

Lisa Blaydes*
Stanford University
Rachel M. Gillum*
Stanford University
Address correspondence and reprint request to: Lisa Blaydes, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, 616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305. E-mail:; or Rachel M. Gillum, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, 616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305. E-mail:
Address correspondence and reprint request to: Lisa Blaydes, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, 616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305. E-mail:; or Rachel M. Gillum, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, 616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305. E-mail:


While public opinion research has expanded rapidly in the Islamic world since 2001, little scholarly work has examined interviewer effects related to an enumerator's religious adherence. We find that the perceived religiosity of an interviewer impacts respondents' expressions of personal piety and adherence to Islamic cultural norms in a sample of approximately 1,200 women in Greater Cairo. Muslim women indicate that they are more religious and adherent to Islamic cultural norms when interviewed by an enumerator donning the Islamic headscarf. Conversely, members of Egypt's minority Coptic Christian community report that they are less adherent to Christianity when interviewed by a veiled enumerator. Through psychological processes of strategic self-presentation of identity and impression management, the veil may trigger Muslim respondents to express what they perceive to be socially desirable (i.e., more devout) responses; in contemporary Egypt, being perceived as pious may elicit social and economic benefits. Christians appear to deemphasize their religious identity to avoid appearing at odds with the dominant, Muslim majority to which the enumerator appears to belong. Younger, poorer and less educated women — who may be most susceptible to concerns about social desirability — show the largest effects.

Copyright © Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association 2013 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Abu-Sahlieh, Sami Al-Deeb. 1994. “To Mutilate in the Name of Jehovah or Allah: Legitimization of Male and Female Circumcision.” Med Law 13:575622.Google ScholarPubMed
Allam, M.F., de Irala-Estevez, J., Fernandez-Crehuet Navajas, R., Castillo, A. Serrano del, Hoashi, J.S., Pankovich, M.B., and Liceaga, J. Rebollo. 2001. “Factors Associated with the Condoning of Female Genital Mutilation among University Students.” Public Health 115.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Anderson, Barbara A., Silver, Brian D., and Abramson, Paul R.. 1988. “The Effects of the Race of the Interviewer on Measures of Electoral Participation by Blacks in SRC National Election Studies.” Public Opinion Quarterly 53:5383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Antes, Peter. 1990. “Islam in the Encyclopedia of Religion.” Journal of Religion 70:403411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Assad, Marie. 1980. “Female Circumcision in Egypt: Social Implications, Current Research, and Prospects for Change.” Studies in Family Planning 11:316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Badran, Margot. 2005. “Between Secular and Islamic Feminism/s: Reflections on the Middle East and Beyond.” Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 1.Google Scholar
Barlas, Asma. 2002. ‘Believing Women’ in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
Baumeister, R. 1982. “A Self-presentational View of Social Phenomena.” Psychological Bulletin 91:326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Benstead, Lindsay. 2010. “Effects of Interviewer Gender and Religious Dress on Survey Responses: Findings from a Nationally-Representative Field Experiment in Morocco.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Political Methodology.Google Scholar
Bischoping, Katherine, and Schuman, Howard. 1992. “Pens and Polls in Nicaragua: An Analysis of the 1990 Preelection Surveys.” American Journal of Political Science 36:331350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blaydes, Lisa, and Linzer, Drew. 2008. “The Political Economy of Women's Support for Fundamentalist Islam.” World Politics 60:576609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bond, R., and Smith, P. B. 1996. “Culture and Conformity: A Meta-Analysis of Studies Using Asch's (1952b, 1956) Line Judgment Task.” Psychological Bulletin 119:111137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boyle, Elizabeth, Songora, Fortunata, and Foss, Gail. 2001. “International Discourse and Local Politics: Anti-Female-Genital-Cutting Laws in Egypt, Tanzania and the United States.” Social Problems 48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Byrne, Donn. 1971. The Attraction Paradigm New York, NY: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Bucaille, Laetitia. 2004. Growing up Palestinian: Israeli Occupation and the Intifada Generation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Campbell, Bruce A. 1981. “Race-of-Interviewer Effects Among Southern Adolescents.” Public Opinion Quarterly 54:209218.Google Scholar
Carvalho, Jean-Paul. 2013. “Veiling.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Catania, Joseph A., Binson, Diana, Canchola, Jesse, Pollack, Lance M., and Huack, Walter. 1996. “Effects of Interviewer Gender, Interviewer Choice, and Item Wording on Responses to Questions Concerning Sexual Behavior.” Public Opinion Quarterly 60:345375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chaves, Mark, and Cavendish, James. 1994. “More Evidence on U.S. Catholic Attendance: Deflated Rates and Religious Economies.” Paper presented to the American Sociological Association, August, Los Angeles, CA.Google Scholar
Chehabi, Houchang E. 1993. “Staging the Emperor's New Clothes: Dress Codes and Nation Building under Reza Shah.” Iranian Studies 26:209229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clark, Janine. 2004. Islam, Charity, and Activism: Middle-Class Networks and Social Welfare in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen. Bloomington, IN: Indian University Press.Google Scholar
Cotter, Patrick R., Cohen, Jeffrey, and Coulter, Philip B.. 1982. “Race-of-Interviewer Effects in Telephone Interviews.” Public Opinion Quarterly 46:278284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Davis, Darren W. 1997a. “The Direction of Race of Interviewer Effects among African Americans: Donning the Black Mask.” American Journal of Political Science 41:309322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Davis, Darren W. 1997b. “Nonrandom Measurement Error and Race of the Interviewer Effects among African Americans.” Public Opinion Quarterly 61:183207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Davis, Darren W., and Silver, Brian D.. 2003. “Stereotype Threat and Race of Interviewer Effects in a Survey on Political Knowledge.” American Journal of Political Science 47:3345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
El-Kholy, Heba. 2002. Defiance and Compliance: Negotiating Gender in Low-Income Cairo. New York, NY: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
Ellemers, N., Spears, R., and Doosje, B. Eds. 1999. Social Identity: Context, Commitment, Content. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
El-Zanaty, F., and Way, A.. 2006. “Female Circumcision.” In Egypt Demographic and Health Survey 2005. ORC Macro: Cairo.Google Scholar
Evans, Richard I., Hansen, William B., and Mittlemark, Maurice B.. 1977. “Increasing the Validity of Self-Reports of Smoking Behavior in Children.” Journal of Applied Psychology 62:521–23.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fanon, Frantz. 1965. A Dying Colonialism. New York, NY: Grove Press.Google Scholar
Flores-Macias, Francisco, and Lawson, Chappell. 2008. “Effects of Interviewer Gender on Survey Responses: Findings from a Household Survey in Mexico.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research 20:100110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Groves, R.M. 1989. Survey Errors and Survey Costs. New York, NY: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Groves, Robert M., and Fultz, Nancy H.. 1985. “Gender Effects among Telephone Interviewers in a Survey of Economic Attitudes.” Sociological Methods and Research 14:3152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hadaway, C. Kirk, Marler, Penny Long, and Chaves, Mark. 1993. “What the Polls Don't Show: A Closer Look at U.S. Church Attendance.” American Sociological Review 58:741752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hansen, Jeffrey, and Schuldt, W. John. 1982. “Physical Distance, Sex, and Intimacy in Self-Disclosure.” Psychological Reports 51:36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hatchet, Shirley, and Schuman, Howard. 1975/6. “White Respondents and Race of Interviewer Effects.” Public Opinion Quarterly 39:523–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Himmelfarb, Samuel, and Lickteig, Carl. 1982. “Social Desirability and the Randomized Response Technique.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 43:710–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoodfar, Homa. 1997. Between Marriage and the Market: Intimate Politics and Survival in Cairo. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Huddy, Leonie, Billig, Joshua, Bracciodieta, John, Hoeffler, Lois, Moynihan, Patrick J., and Pugliani, Patricia. 1997. “Effect of Interviewer Gender.” Political Behavior 19:197220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ibrahim, Saad Eddin. 1996. “The Copts of Egypt.” Minority Rights Group International. Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies.Google Scholar
Jamal, Amaney, and Tessler, Mark. 2008. “Attitudes in the Arab World.” Journal of Democracy 19:97110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnson, Timothy P., Fendrich, Michael, Shaligram, Chitra, Garcy, Anthony, and Gillespie, Samuel. 2000. “An Evaluation of the Effects of Interviewer Characteristics in an RDD Telephone Survey of Drug Use.”Journal of Drug Issues 30:77102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jones, Wesley. H., and Lang, James R.. 1980. “Sample Composition Bias and Response Bias in a Mail Survey: A Comparison of Inducement Methods.” Journal of Marketing Research 17:6976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kane, Emily W., and Macaulay, Laura J.. 1993. “Interviewer Gender and Gender Attitudes.” Public Opinion Quarterly 57:128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Katosh, John P., and Traugott, Michael W.. 1981. “The Consequences of Validated and Self-Reported Voting Measures.” Public Opinion Quarterly 62:506544.Google Scholar
Kondo, Chisozu, Saito, Chiaki, Deguchi, Ayaka, Hirayama, Miki, and Acar, Adam. 2010. “Social Conformity and Response Bias Revisited: The Influence of ‘Others’ on Japanese Respondents.” Human Affairs 20:356363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Krysan, Maria, and Couper, Mick P.. 2003. “Race in the Live and the Virtual Interview: Racial Deference, Social Desirability, and Activation Effects in Attitude Surveys.” Social Psychology Quarterly 66:364383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Leary, M. R., and Kowalski, R.M.. 1990. “Impression Management: A Literature Review and Two-component Model.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 107:3447Google Scholar
Lenski, Gerhard E., and Leggett, John C.. 1960. “Caste, Class, and Deference in the Research Interview.” American Sociological Review 65:463467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lord, Vivian B., Friday, Paul C., and Brennan, Pauline K.. 2005. “The Effects of Interviewer Characteristics on Arrestees' Responses to Drug-related Questions.” Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice 1:3655.Google Scholar
Lueptow, Lloyd B., Moser, Susan L., and Pendleton, Brian F.. 1990. “Gender and Response Effects in Telephone Interviews About Gender Characteristics.” Sex Roles 22:2942.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Makari, Peter E. 2007. Conflict & Cooperation: Christian-Muslim relations in Contemporary Egypt. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
Mernissi, Fatima. 1987. The Veil and the Male Elite. Reading, PA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.Google Scholar
Moore, Kirsten, Randolph, Kate, Toubia, Nahid, and Kirberger, Elizabeth. 1997. “The Synergistic Relationship between Health and Human Rights: A Case Study using Genital Mutilation.” Health and Human Rights 2.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Neto, P. 1995. “Conformity and Independence Revisited.” Social Behavior and Personality 23:217222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Patel, David. 2012. “Concealing to Reveal: The Changing Informational Role of Islamic Dress.” Rationality and Society 24:295323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Paulhus, Delroy L. 1984. “Two-Component Models of Socially Desirable Responding.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 46:598609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pavlos, Andrew J. 1972. “Racial Attitude and Stereotype Change with Bogus Pipeline Paradigm.” Proceedings of the 80th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
Presser, Stanley. 1990. “Changes in the Election of Women to the U.S. Legislative Seats.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 12:125142.Google Scholar
Reese, Stephen D., Danielson, Wayne A., Shomaker, Pamela J., Chang, Tsan-Kuo, and Hsu, Huei-Ling. 1986. “Ethnicity-of-Interviewer Effects among Mexican-Americans and Anglos.” Public Opinion Quarterly 50:563572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reicher, S. D., Spears, R., and Postmes, T.. 1995. “A Social Identity Model of De-individuation Phenomena.” European Review of Social Psychology 6:161198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schaeffer, Nora Cate. 1980. “Evaluating Race-of-Interviewer Effects in a National Survey.” Sociological Methods and Research 8:400419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scheff, T. J. 1988. “Shame and Conformity: The Deference-Emotion System.” American Sociological Review 53:395406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schlenker, B. 1980. Impression management: The Self-concept, Social Identity and Interpersonal Relations. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
Schneider, Daniel, Lelkes, Yphtach, Callegaro, Mario, Daves, Robert P., Krosnick, Jon A., and Keulenaer, Femke De. 2009. “The Impact of Interviewer Race and Gender on Survey Results: The Case of Pre-Election Polls.” Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
Schuman, Howard and Converse, Jean M.. 1971. “The Effects of Black and White Interviewers on Black Responses in 1968.” Public Opinion Quarterly 35:4468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sedraa, Paul. 1999. “Class Cleavages and Ethnic Conflict: Coptic Christian Communities in Modern Egyptian Politics.” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 10:219235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sigall, Harold, and Page, Richard. 1971. “Current Stereotypes: A Little Fading, A Little Faking.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research 7:157171.Google Scholar
Singerman, Diane. 1995. Avenues of Participation: Family, Politics and Networks in Urban Quarters of Cairo. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Singh, Ramadan, and Ho, Soo Yan. 2000. “Attitudes and Attraction: A New Test of the Attraction, Repulsion and Similarity-dissimilarity Asymmetry Hypotheses.” British Journal of Social Psychology 39:197211.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Smith, E.R. 1998. “Mental Representations and Memory.” In Handbook of Social Psychology. Gilbert, Daniel, Fiske, Susan T., and Lindzey, Gardner, eds. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 391435.Google Scholar
Smith, Tom W. 1998. “A Review of Church Attendance Measures.” American Sociological Review 63:131136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Streb, Matthew J., Burrell, Barbara, Fredrick, Brian, and Genovese, Michael A.. 2008. “Social Desirability Effects and Support for a Female American President.” Public Opinion Quarterly 72:7689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sullivan, Denis J. 1994. Private Voluntary Organizations in Egypt: Islamic Development, Private Initiative, and State Control. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.Google Scholar
Tourangeau, R., Rips, Lance J., and Rasinski, Kenneth. 2000. The Psychology of Survey Response. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
von der Osten-Sacken, Thomas, and Thomas, Uwer. 2007. “Is Female Genital Mutilation an Islamic Problem?Middle East Quarterly 14:2936.Google Scholar
Warner, Stanley L. 1965. “Randomized Response: A Survey Technique for Eliminating Evasive Answer Bias.” Journal of the American Statistical Association 60:6369.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Webster, Cynthia. 1996. “Hispanic and Anglo Interviewer and Respondent Ethnicity and Gender: The impact on survey response quality.” Journal of Marketing Research 33:6272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Williams, Allen J. Jr. 1964. “Interviewer-Respondent Interaction: A Study of Bias in the Information Interview.” Sociometry 27:338352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wright, Gerald C. 1993. “Errors in Measuring Vote Choice in the National Election Studies. 1952–88.” American Journal of Political Science 37:291316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wright, Gerald C. 1990. “Misreports of Vote Choice in the 1988 NES Senate Election Study.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 15:543563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Yount, Kathryn. 2004. “Symbolic Gender Politics, Religious Group Identity, and the Decline in Female Genital Cutting in Minya, Egypt.” Social Forces 82:10631090.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Young, Kathryn Yount. 2005. “Resources, Family Organization, and Domestic Violence Against Married Women in Minya, Egypt.” Journal of Marriage and Family 67:579596.Google Scholar
Zeidanab, David. 1999. “The Copts — Equal, Protected or Persecuted? The Impact of Islamization on Muslim-Christian Relations in Modern Egypt.” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 10:5367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zerbe, W.J., and Paulhus, D.L.. 1987. “Socially Desirable Responding in Organizational Behavior: A Preconception.” Academy of Management Review 12:250264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar