View this website in: English  |   ESPAÑOL  |   中文

Do’s and Don’ts of Surveys That Include Different Racial and Ethnic Groups

Constructing effective surveys is hard enough, but it can become even more complex if your target audience includes members from different racial or ethnic groups. How can you be sure your questions will mean the same thing to those with various backgrounds? What if the answers come back the same, but it turns out people meant different things by the same response? Let’s take a look at some best practices for running surveys with different racial and ethnic populations. 

DO Pilot-Test Your Survey With Members of Each Community

Researchers translating a survey into a different language will often translate the text into the target language. Then, they take the translated questionnaire and “back-translate it” into the first language. That way, they see if any idiomatic expressions or other quirks sneaked in and distorted the text. Similarly, researchers should pilot-test a survey with members of different racial and ethnic groups to see if any items have an unforeseen cultural element that would alter comprehension of the question or the response. And when pilot testing, it’s not enough to have people simply fill out the questionnaire. They should explain their take on each item as they do. 

DO Vary the Survey Method

Studies have shown that different survey-taking methodologies can skew the accuracy of surveys. For example, studies have shown that convenience samples from M-Turk, Google consumer, and others tend to receive responses from minority populations who are younger, U.S.-born, educated, and highly acculturated, so they may not be representative of their larger ethnic group. Thus a mixed-method strategy (e.g., online, telephone, and email) may be more effective if your goal is to understand the larger communities’ concerns and interests.  

DON’T Rely on List-Based or Density Strategies Alone

Some survey takers rely on list-based approaches (i.e., targeting people with an “ethnic-sounding” name) or density strategies to successfully capture a population within a specific geographic area. These aren’t going to give you enough insight into a potential market because both will overlook the various socioeconomic differences of these populations. However, if you tailor lists within a set neighborhood and add other differentiating factors, you’ll have a much better result. 

DON’T Aggregate the Responses Too Quickly

Another common mistake is to aggregate groups’ responses by race or ethnicity (e.g. “Asian-Pacific”), but subgroups within these categories may have very different needs and experiences. Relevant categorization and aggregation are concerns to address during pilot testing—seeking to correctly identify relevant groups. 

For more insights into designing effective research for audiences from multiple racial and ethnic communities, contact the team members at Ebony Marketing Systems. We are experts at conducting research that reaches people in a new way. For more information, call us at (718)742-0006 or send us a message today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *