• Presentation

The Changing Face of Respondents


Evans, B., Reed, L. M., & Ellis, C. S. (2008, May). The Changing Face of Respondents. Presented at AAPOR 2008, New Orleans, LA.


With the ever changing population demographics in United States, survey researchers are faced with many challenges to ensure all sampled population groups are accurately represented, high quality data, and high response rates. Seldom is careful consideration given to the development and translation of the questionnaire, training of interviewers, approaches to contact respondents, and refusal conversion in regards to non-English speaking populations and foreign-born populations. This lack of consideration can result in respondents not understanding questionnaire items, low quality data, decreased response rates, and under representation of certain population groups in the sample.The Welcome to the United States Survey (Welcome), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, consisted of the administration of a brief interview of visitors to the United States as they entered through land and air ports of entry. While the interview was only conducted in English and Spanish, the interviewers spoke with visitors from all over the world, thus encountering numerous cultures and languages. In many instances, the interviewers had to adapt their approach to potential respondents on the spot due to these cultural and linguistic differences.This paper discusses the ever-increasing need for the survey research industry to evaluate methods used to conduct surveys given the population changes in the United States. Linguistic challenges are discussed in reference to the development of a questionnaire, specifically effectively proven translation methods. Additionally this paper discusses the need for interviewer freedom in how they approach potential respondents allowing them to adapt to cultural needs. Finally this paper presents lessons learned from the Welcome survey on how to contact and administer surveys to non-American populations that can be applied to future studies.