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Behav Med. 1993 Summer;19(2):66-73.

A review of studies comparing checklist and interview methods of data collection in life event research.

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  • 1Center of Alcohol Studies, Rutgers-State University of New Jersey.


This article is concerned with the relative merits of checklists and interviews as techniques for collecting data in the study of life events. It presents a detailed review of studies that have directly compared checklists and interviews. The author's conclusion is that the two techniques should not be seen as equivalent in the assessment of life events. Virtually all of the studies reviewed showed a marked tendency to overreport on checklists. The method appears inadequate in distinguishing truly stressful events from trivial occurrences. In contrast, the in-depth interview is sensitive to the subtleties of life events and should be the preferred method when data of any precision and accuracy are required in an empirical study.

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