Detail from "the second line," a painting by Bob Graham. For more about the artist, click here.

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Exploring the Effects of Respondent Behavior on the Interview Process and Data Quality in a 2010 Census Case Study Evaluation

*Ruth Ann Sando, Sando and Associates 

Keywords: 2010 Census, ethnography, face-to-face interview, respondent behavior

Although some populations have long been hard to reach, research professionals have noted that willingness to participate in surveys has been waning for a variety of reasons. This raises important questions: What behaviors do respondents employ as they become less willing to participate? Correspondingly, does the interview process change and are there effects on data produced?

This poster is based on a US Census Bureau qualitative evaluation of the 2010 Census, “Comparative Ethnographic Studies of Enumeration Methods and Coverage in Race/Ethnic Groups.” Expert ethnographers accompanied interviewers in 9 sites to observe live interviews and conduct immediate debriefings. This poster presents findings on behavioral dynamics in 33 observed interviews in the Florida site. While some respondents refused or broke off the interview, others expressed varying degrees of negativity about participating. All 33 observed interviews were examined to explore the reasons behind their unwillingness, and behavioral dynamics in the interviews. Valuable lessons are extracted about interviewers’ strategies for coping with challenges and managing the interactions to produce a successful outcome.

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