How Do you Ask about Ethnicity in a Questionnaire

How do you ask about ethnicity in a questionnaire? Ethnicity questionnaire are just as important as standard survey questions like age and geography. A detailed profile of your target audience— people who are likely buy your products or services—is invaluable. With this information, you’ll have a better idea of who your customers are and what they want.

While ethnicity questionnaire are standard in surveys, it’s still important to be cautious of how such questions are asked. This article will educate you on what ethnicity survey questions are and clarify the definitions of ethnicity and race. You’ll come away with a better understanding of the advantages and limitations of race and ethnicity survey questions, why they’re important, and how to frame them better.

An ethnicity questionnaire is usually part of a survey’s section where you ask demographic information. Demographic questionnaire represent the characteristics of a human population. An ethnicity questionnaire asks respondents about their ancestral background and represents culturally historical information that reflects their society and possibly even linguistics. Questionnaires about ethnicity are essential for market research. It helps businesses understand their customers better, and more importantly, it helps them communicate with potential customers.

These questions are used to gather statistical information about racial groups. This information can be helpful in the workplace, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations to ensure an inclusive culture. Racial groups typically reflect cultural, societal characteristics, and preferences valuable to businesses with products and services specific to that culture. For example, food, fashion, beauty and holistic health essentials differ in every culture. Companies that sell ethnic beauty products can benefit from questionnaires about ethnicity.

How Do you Ask about Ethnicity in a Questionnaire

When creating a questionnaire, the researcher has to make sure he will ask questions about race and ethnicity separately. A researcher can follow the US census bureau method of asking such questions or any other government institution. An ethnicity question, followed by a race question can be a good way to capture accurate data of both race and ethnicity. Following are a few examples of race and ethnicity  questionnaire asked using different approaches.

Read also: How to Psychoanalyze Someone with Questions

Approach 1:

  1. Are you of Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  1. How would you best describe yourself?
    1. American Indian or Alaska Native
    2. Asian
    3. Black or African American
    4. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
    5. White

When asking these question, a researcher can use checkbox questions as respondents can identify themselves as a member of multiple races. The above question can enable a researcher to generalize the respondent in a large group of an ethnic or racial group. However, if the researcher wants in-depth information, the following approach can be asked.

Approach 2:

  1. Are you of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?
    1. No, not of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin
    2. Yes, Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano
    3. Yes, Puerto Rican
    4. Yes, Cuban
    5. Yes, other Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin (Please specify)
  2. How would you best describe yourself?
    1. White
    2. Black, African American
    3. American Indian or Alaska native (Please specify tribe)
    4. Asian Indian
    5. Japanese
    6. Native Hawaiian
    7. Chinese
    8. Korean
    9. Guamanian or Chamorro
    10. Filipino
    11. Vietnamese
    12. Samoan
    13. Other Asian (Please specify)
    14. Other Pacific Islander (Please specify)
    15. Other race (Please specify)

Such a question was used in the 2010 US census form about race and ethnicity. Such a question can give the researcher accurate in-depth information about the respondent. Furthermore, adding open-ended responses will give the respondent, the freedom to write a specific race or ethnicity they identify themselves as. Such questions can help increase the response rate of the survey as well.

Approach 3:

  1. Which origin do you closely identify yourself in – Hispanic, Latino or Spanish?
    1. Yes
    2. No
    3. Other (Please specify)
    4. Prefer not to say
  2. How would you best describe yourself?
    1. American Indian or Alaska Native
    2. Asian
    3. Black or African American
    4. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
    5. White
    6. Other (Please specify)
    7. Prefer not to say

Such a question is usually preferred nowadays by most survey designers, as ethnicity and race are sensitive topics and many people still find it quite intrusive when asked. Giving the option to skip the question, enables the respondent to feel, that the question is not being forced onto him. Furthermore, an option with an open-ended response also gives the feeling of being all-inclusive and hence leaves out the chance of offending any respondent. Depending on what the data is needed for, any approach can be taken to ask the question.


What is your ethnicity questionnaire? Gather the information you need on sensitive topics like ethnicity and race through a bank of researched templates provided by SurveyMonkey. Choose the question you think offers the feedback and insights you’re looking for. Next, customize your answers to keep respondents engaged and curious enough to read and answer the next question and the question after that.





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