Frederick George Conrad
Research Professor, Institute for Social Research; Professor, Psychology
Institute for Social Research; Survey Research Center
Department of Psychology
Fred Conrad’s research concerns the development of new methods and data sources for conducting social research. His work is largely focused on survey methodology, but he also explores the use of social media content as a complement to survey data and as a source of large-scale qualitative insights. His focus is on data quality and reducing measurement error. For example, live video interviews promote more thoughtful responses, e.g., less straightlining – the tendency to give the same answer to a battery of survey questions, but they also promote less candor when answering questions on sensitive topics. Measurement error in social media include misclassification in the automated interpretation of content using methods such as sentiment analysis and topic modeling, as well as selective self-presentation (only posting flattering content). Equally challenging is not knowing the extent to which users differ from the population to which one might wish to generalize results.