Effects of digital mediation and familiarity in online video interviews between peers

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In times of social distancing, we need to adapt some of our research methods. Methodologies in field research can be partly replaced by a combination of online methods, which will often include online interviews. Technologically, there are few limitations to conducting interviews online, but there are side effects to digital mediation: privacy related concerns, technology hiccups, and physical distance may be barriers to disclosure for the interviewee. A survey among master students who had conducted interviews online confirmed these negative effects on the flow of interviews. Barriers to disclosure may be overcome by introducing familiarity and role-sharing. We tested the methodology of duo interviews via online video-calling tool Skype. In duo interviews, two respondents who know each other, interview each other in absence of a researcher. This explorative study investigated the effects of digital mediation on the flow of interviews and possible mitigation by familiarity between interviewer and interviewee. The qualitative study’s respondents were mostly experienced interviewers who knew each other well and were also experienced in using online video-calling tools, which reduced the influence of variation in technical and interviewing skills. The focus of the study was on finding conditions for the use of the familiarity strategy in online interviews. While familiarity between interview participants was reported to positively affect disclosure, the use of this method is limited to specific interview purposes. An unexpected finding was that the absent researcher was, in fact, present in the interview due to the element of video-recording. We list recommendations and conditions for conducting duo interviews over online video-calling tools, as well as limitations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalMethodological Innovations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2021

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© The Author(s) 2021.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • interview
  • Methodology


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