Racial Identification in Interaction


Previous research has established that people shift their identities situationally and may come to subconsciously mirror one another. We explore this phenomenon among survey interviewers in the 2004-2018 General Social Survey by drawing on repeated measures of racial identification collected after each interview. We find not only that interviewers self-identify differently over time but also that their response changes cannot be fully explained by several measurement-error related expectations, either random or systematic. Rather, interviewers are significantly more likely to identify their race in ways that align with respondents’ reports. The potential for affiliative identification, even if subconscious, has a range of implications for understanding race-ofinterviewer effects, the social construction of homophily, and for how we consider causality in studies of race and racial inequality more broadly.

Accepted in Social Forces