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Cognitive Pretesting of 2010 Alternative Questionnaire Experiment (AQE) Race and Hispanic Origin Treatment Panels

Leticia Fernández, Eleanor Gerber, Matthew Clifton, George Higbie, and Mikelyn Meyers



During the 2010 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau will conduct several experiments to explore alternate content and ways to enhance data quality for the 2020 Census. One of these planned experiments is the Alternative Questionnaire Experiment (AQE), which tests alternate content regarding race and Hispanic origin for the 2010 Census mail questionnaire. This report documents the findings from two phases of cognitive pretesting that involved eight experimental race and ethnicity panels. The general research goal for the cognitive research was to examine respondent reactions to a number of new features. Key findings are that (1) respondents had no difficulty understanding and answering “combined” formats that collect data on Hispanic origin and race in a single question; (2) although most respondents found the examples helpful, White and Black respondents did not easily identify with a particular ethnicity; (3) respondents favor forms that contain the term “race” in the question stem rather than a more neutral, “Is this person…” (4) respondents also favor headings over the Asian and Pacific Islander categories; (5) the term “Negro” was found offensive by most respondents.

CITATION: Fernández, Leticia, Eleanor Gerber, Matthew Clifton, George Higbie, and Mikelyn Meyers. (2009). Cognitive Pretesting of 2010 AQE Race and Hispanic Origin Treatment Panels. Statistical Research Division Research Report Series (Survey Methodology #2009-08). U.S. Census Bureau. Available online at <>.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Published online: November 24, 2009
Last revised: November 18, 2009

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010