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Cognitive Testing Results for the ACS Field Flyer for Use in 2010: ACS Messaging Project Phase 3 Final Report

Laurie Schwede and Anissa Sorokin




This second project report on the multi-phase American Community Survey (ACS) 2010 Messaging Project presents the results of cognitive testing of a new ACS flyer from Phase 3 testing in late spring, 2009. This flyer is intended for use by field representatives during personal visit interviews in the final stage of ACS data collection with ACS mail and phone nonresponders. This flyer was developed for use in 2010, when the ACS continues to be conducted monthly in the context of the massive, nationwide Census 2010 advertising and mobilization campaign. Some respondents will be confused by two questionnaires from the Census Bureau with some of the same questions and wonder if, and why, they have to do both. To address those issues, the flyer lists five frequently asked questions and answers concerning the ACS and the Census, presents four full-color pictures intended to represent visually the uses of the ACS data, and provides the Census Bureau logo and the ACS website url on one side. On the other side, it shows copies of the green ACS questionnaire and the blue Census 2010 questionnaire, to help respondents identify which form(s) they may already have completed, and includes short descriptions of the questions asked on each questionnaire. In recruiting respondents, we oversampled for renters, as research has shown they may be more likely to be ACS nonresponders, the target population for this flyer. We simulated, as much as possible in one cognitive interview, what mail nonresponders would go through by presenting them with the flyer only after they had seen the successive Census 2010 and ACS mailings, interspersed as they would be in March and April of 2010 when both data collections would be running. Respondents reacted favorably to both sides of the flyer, with some saying that they finally understood that there were two separate questionnaires they were required to complete. As a result of the testing, the ACS Messaging Group revised the flyer in three ways: 1) for the question about whether respondents have to complete both the ACS and the Census 2010 questionnaires, we supplemented the original mandatory answer with an additional sentence on the benefits of responding to the ACS to present both “stick” (mandatory message) and “carrot” (benefits message); 2) we reordered the five questions to flow better; and 3) we changed the rural picture at the bottom of the flyer. A few minor wording changes were also made to the second side of the flyer.


Laurie Schwede and Anissa Sorokin. (2010). Cognitive Testing Results for the ACS Field Flyer for Use in 2010: ACS Messaging Project Phase 3 Final Report . Statistical Research Division Study Series (Survey Methodology #2010-12). U.S. Census Bureau. Available online at <>.

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

Published online: September 30, 2010
Last revised: September 30, 2010


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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: September 11, 2013