Does the wording of official ethnicity questions influence perceptions in the longer term?

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The Politicus
Dec 02, 2021 03:23 PM 0 Answers
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It is well known that the sequence in which questions are asked in a survey can affect answers as earlier questions can influence the frame of mind in which a respondent answers a subsequent question. An illustration of this can be found in the BBC comedy series Yes Minister.

My question is whether there has been any research into whether the wording of official surveys affects opinions in the longer term.

For example, if a respondent to an official survey such as a census is presented with a ethnicity question in the form of one large box entitled White containing tickbox options such as British, English, and Welsh, next to another large box entitled Non-white containing other options none of which is British, English, and Welsh then that will obviously (all other things being equal) increase the number of "white" people who choose English in that particular survey and decrease the number of "non-White" people who choose English in that particular survey even if other (please specify) write in options are freely available.

But has there been any research into the longer-term effect of such surveys? Does the frequent asking of the question in this way actually change perceptions of what is meant by English so as to cause some people to shift their viewpoint and start to believe that the term English as an ethnicity is limited to "white" people?

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  • December 2, 2021