When cheap talk is not that cheap: interviewing the super-rich about illegal wildlife consumption

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Obtaining insights on the illicit consumption of endangered wildlife products is challenging, especially when the study objects are the super-rich. This research note draws upon my experience interviewing nearly 1,000 rhino horn consumers in Vietnam. Trust is crucial in such interactions. No interviews could have been conducted without good rapport between interviewers and respondents. Nonetheless, soliciting interviews requires skills that one cannot expect to teach enumerators in the short term. This includes a winning sense of humour, colourful life experience, and true grit. Once good rapport is established, the use of specialised questionning techniques or bias-mitigation tools becomes unnecessary. Instead I suggest a practical approach to study consumers of illegal and luxury wildlife products in an Asian context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory and Practice
ISSN1364-5579
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Mar 2021

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