Situational or Contextual Identity Among U.S. Hispanics

This week at the annual American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) conference, our research director Martin Cerda will present the findings of an experiment conducted by Encuesta on the subject of contextual identity among U.S. Hispanics as it relates to the survey research process (see abstract below).

The experiment was designed to build on Encuesta’s less structured self-identification approach known as the Ethno-Racial Open Identity Classification (EROIC) which was well received at last year’s annual conference and was recently approved for post-conference publication in the June 2012 issue of AAPOR’s Survey Practice (an online-only journal). The study based on an online survey was designed to assess the possible impact of context from the screening process on the manner in which Hispanics define their race and ethnicity or respond to questions related to Latino themes or important issues.

The results of the experiment indicate that open-end question formats and text coding approach such as EROIC are useful ways for U.S. Hispanics to express their own notions of race and ethnicity and effectively and efficiently self-identify themselves as part of a survey research process without the need to ask a specific question that references “Hispanic” or “Latino” ethnicity.

Conference Abstract:

An Experiment Among U.S. Hispanics Regarding Contextual Identity with Survey Research Design Implications – Martin Cerda, Encuesta, Inc. (Miami, FL)

In this era of unprecedented technological progress, it is now more evident than ever that the context in which an individual experiences the delivery of communications is more crucial than ever. This has important implications for those interested in reaching and impacting thoughts and actions, and correspondingly in how public opinion is gathered and measured as part of the survey research process.

U.S. Hispanics, and in particular bilingual and bicultural Latinos, represent an interesting case in this regard as many often negotiate their ethnic identity continuously during the course of an ordinary day in response to the multidimensional context that surrounds them. This can create unique challenges for survey researchers if for example improper question flow or inappropriate race and ethnic identity constructs are used as part of the screening process.

To explore this issue, an experiment was designed to build on the less structured self-identification format developed by the author (An Exploration of Racial and Ethnic Identity Constructs among U.S. Hispanics with Implications for Survey Design and Analysis; AAPOR Conference 2011, Martin G. Cerda, Ilgin Basar and Jessica Jamanca; Encuesta, Inc.) in order to assess the possible impact of context from the screening process on the manner in which Latinos define their race and ethnicity or respond to questions related to Latino themes or important issues.

Specifically, a series of test and control studies will be conducted using online surveys to explore the likelihood of introducing bias or demonstrate how respondents with similar origins, heritage, acculturation levels, or language proficiency can be influenced on how they describe their ethnic identity or answer relevant attitudinal and behavioral questions.

The findings will demonstrate possible solutions when conducting survey research among U.S. Hispanics in order to reduce or eliminate undesired influences of contextual identity.