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Open-ended questions are an important methodological tool for social science researchers, but they suffer from large variations in response quality. In this contribution, we discuss the state of research and develop a systematic approach to the mechanisms of quality generation in open-ended questions, examining the effects from respondents and interviewers as well as those arising from their interactions. Using data from an open-ended question on associations with foreigners living in Germanydoi:10.12758/mda.2020.08 fatcat:dz45elxlhreitbfkp7vnxjvh3e