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Supervision Mode Effects in Computerized Delinquency Surveys at School: Finnish Replication of a Swiss Experiment

NCJ Number
Journal of Experimental Criminology Volume: 9 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2013 Pages: 91-107
Janne Kivivuori; Venla Salmi; Simone Walser
Date Published
March 2013
17 pages
This study provides a Finnish replication of a recent Swiss experiment (Walser and Killias: J Exp Criminol 8:17-28, 2012) on the supervision mode effects in computerized delinquency surveys in schools. This study supplements the Swiss study by using individual level randomization and two additional outcome variables: meta-questions of response integrity and incidence-counting heuristics.
A total of 924 ninth grade students (15-16 years old) in southern Finland were randomly assigned (at the level of individuals) to supervision either by their teachers or by an external research assistant. Students then responded to an online self-report delinquency survey. Chi-square and t tests were used to compare prevalence levels and means. In both last year and lifetime recall periods, only one offence type (unspecified theft) showed significantly different outcomes, with external supervision yielding a higher prevalence figure. For other offences, no supervision effects were found. When females and males were separately examined, limited evidence of gender-specific supervision effects emerged. Thus, females appear to report more thefts in external supervision while males report more violence in teacher supervision. No statistically significant supervision effects were found in questions probing response integrity and counting heuristics. Using teacher supervision in online self-report delinquency surveys does not appear to compromise the validity of the survey results. The findings thus largely corroborate the results of the earlier Swiss test. How supervision condition interacts with respondent characteristics apart from gender calls for further scrutiny. Abstract published by arrangement with Springer.