Questioning Identity: How a Diverse Set of Respondents Answer Standard Questions About Ethnicity and Race by Dana Garbarski, Jennifer Dykema, Cameron P. Jones, Tiffany S. Neman, Nora Cate Schaeffer, & Dorothy Farrar Edwards (May 2023)

Field Methods, Online First


Ethnoracial identity refers to the racial and ethnic categories that people use to classify themselves and others. How it is measured in surveys has implications for understanding inequalities. Yet how people self-identify may not conform to the categories standardized survey questions use to measure ethnicity and race, leading to potential measurement error. In interviewer-administered surveys, answers to survey questions are achieved through interviewer–respondent interaction. An analysis of interviewer–respondent interaction can illuminate whether, when, how, and why respondents experience problems with questions. In this study, we examine how indicators of interviewer–respondent interactional problems vary across ethnoracial groups when respondents answer questions about ethnicity and race. Further, we explore how interviewers respond in the presence of these interactional problems. Data are provided by the 2013–2014 Voices Heard Survey, a computer-assisted telephone survey designed to measure perceptions of participating in medical research among an ethnoracially diverse sample of respondents.