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Ethnic Identity, Questionnaire Content, and the Dilemma of Race Matching in Surveys of African Americans by African American Interviewers

Publication Abstract

Davis, R., C. Caldwell, Mick P. Couper, Nancy K. Janz, G. Alexander, S. Greene, N. Zhang, and K. Resnicow. 2013. "Ethnic Identity, Questionnaire Content, and the Dilemma of Race Matching in Surveys of African Americans by African American Interviewers." Field Methods, 25(2): 142-161.

We used data from two telephone-administered health surveys to explore African Americans' preferences for interviewer race. The first survey utilized African American interviewers to assess ethnic identity and aspects of healthy eating among 617 African American adults. In the second survey, interviewers of varying races queried 534 African American adults about their motivations to eat healthier. The motivation survey contained almost no racial content, whereas 40% of the ethnic identity survey assessed racial content. Using only ethnic identity survey data, we found that respondents with Afrocentric or Black American identity components were more likely to prefer African American interviewers than respondents with solely assimilated, bicultural, or multicultural identity components. Ethnic identity survey respondents were also more likely to prefer racially/ethnically matched interviewers than motivation survey respondents. Ethnic identity respondents with a college or graduate degree reported lower hypothetical comfort with a white interviewer than respondents with a high school education.

DOI:10.1177/1525822X12449709 (Full Text)

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