'Agony aunt, hostage, intruder or friend?'. The multiple personas of the interviewer during fieldwork

Valerie Caven


Purpose: This paper examines how the role of the interviewer is manipulated by the interviewees in return for them offering their experiences, opinions and information during qualitative research interviews.

Design/methodology: Semi-structured interviews in the qualitative paradigm were carried out with 55 architects from the East Midlands region of the UK. The interview data is supported by research diary evidence.

Findings: A typology of four interviewer personas is presented: as ‘agony aunt, hostage, intruder or friend’.

Research limitations/implications: The four personas were generated by the interviewees’ responses to one researcher which is a limitation. However, the study could be replicated with other researchers/interviewers in different interview situations.

Practical implications: The research has practical value in highlighting the multiple facets of the relationship between interviewer and interviewee in qualitative research. It will be of value to both experienced and new researchers.

Originality/value: The development of the typology represents the originality and value of the research. Previous research has focused more on telling the stories rather than the development of new theory relating to interviewing.


qualitative interviewing, identity, and research relationships

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3926/ic.276

Licencia de Creative Commons 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Intangible Capital, 2004-2024

Online ISSN: 1697-9818; Print ISSN: 2014-3214; DL: B-33375-2004

Publisher: OmniaScience