• Presentation

Asians: Are They the Same? Findings From Cognitive Interviews With Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese Americans


Park, H., & Yelei, V. (2009, May). Asians: Are They the Same? Findings From Cognitive Interviews With Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese Americans. Presented at AAPOR 2009, .


The Asian and Hispanic populations in the U.S. have grown at much faster rates than the U.S. population as a whole. Many government surveys have included Spanish translations to meet the growing need to include Hispanic populations. However, monolingual speakers of Asian languages are rarely included in U.S. surveys, despite their population growth. As a result, our understanding of surveys administered in Asian languages is limited.

In this paper, we will report findings from cognitive interview projects in Asian languages undertaken at the U.S. Census Bureau in 2006 and 2008. In these projects, we tested survey materials that were translated into Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, to evaluate how participants of the three language groups reacted to and perceived the translated messages. The focus of this paper is to illustrate issues in conveying intended meanings in translated messages and compare how similar and/or different the issues are across the three language groups. This study expands the previous research (Park and Pan, 2007) of the findings from Chinese and Korean cognitive interviews by adding Vietnamese cognitive interview data.

The findings show that basic challenges pertained to the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese respondents; however, there are unique findings to each group. While most participants in these language groups missed important messages presented in the testing materials, each language group showed different reactions to informed consent messages. Also, the Chinese and the Vietnamese participants showed unfamiliarity with the concept of a survey, thus exhibiting difficulty understanding what ACS meant as a survey event.

These findings demonstrate the importance of taking cultural differences into account when dealing with different Asian population groups.