Volume 3 Issue 3 June 2005 Applied Research Note 2

Reliability, Accuracy and Bias in Survey Estimates in Tourism Surveys

by Jay Beaman, & Jerry J. Vaske

Reliability, accuracy, and bias are common concepts that are sometimes misunderstood and used inappropriately. This note (1) clarifies the distinctions between reliability, accuracy and bias for Estimates (ê) Based on Observable Behaviors (EBOB), and (2) illustrates the importance of recognizing bias in them. Estimates considered include proportions in categories and totals or means of numbers/ amounts. Examples of estimate bias for large professionally designed and run surveys are presented. It is argued that, rather than treating reliability as accuracy, an estimate being adequately close to its correct value should be an important consideration in using it in tourism planning and management decision making.

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