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The Role of Response Formats on Extreme Response Style: A Case of Likert-Type vs. Semantic Differential Scales

Measurement and Research Methods in International Marketing

ISBN: 978-1-78052-094-0, eISBN: 978-1-78052-095-7

ISSN: 1474-7979

Publication date: 23 August 2011


Purpose – A major limitation in cross-cultural research continues to be attempts to compare construct measurements across cultures without adequate conceptual and empirical evidence of the equivalency of the measurement scores. Of significant concern in such studies is the presence of various types of response bias that may systematically differ from one culture to another, resulting in a potential violation of the assumption that measurement scores across cultures are equivalent. The focus of this study is to investigate the role of the response format type, extreme response style (ERS). Most studies have investigated response bias styles using Likert-type scales as response formats, yet it has long been argued that these particular formats tend to result in various types of response style bias, especially in cross-cultural research. Would other scaling devices, such as semantic differential (SD), lessen response style bias in pan-cultural studies? To answer this question, our study employs two types of response formats (i.e., Liker-type and SD) to empirically test for the presence of ERS within each response format style.

Methodology/approach – This chapter takes the form of empirical research using ERS indices to test for the degree of ERS between response formats using samples from a collectivistic culture (i.e., South Korea) and an individualistic culture (i.e., United States).

Findings – Results show that samples from both cultures exhibit greater levels of ERS when using Likert-type scales compared to SD scales. Additionally, this study finds that, when using Likert-type scales, ERS is greater for U.S. respondents than for South Korea respondents. Finally, results show that there is no statistically significant difference in ERS between the two cultural groups when using SD response formats.

Research implications – Findings show that the use of SD response formats eliminates systematic differences in ERS between a collectivist sample and an individualist sample. Therefore, the use of such response formats in future cross-cultural research can greatly diminish the problematic effects of culturally based ERS and lead to greater confidence in the equivalency of measurement scores across cultures.

Originality/value of paper – This study is the first to simultaneously assess culturally based ERS using two types of response formats to investigate the impact of response format on ERS. Furthermore, this study assesses the role of response format on ERS both within and between two distinctly different cultures.



Rocereto, J.F., Puzakova, M., Anderson, R.E. and Kwak, H. (2011), "The Role of Response Formats on Extreme Response Style: A Case of Likert-Type vs. Semantic Differential Scales", Sarstedt, M., Schwaiger, M. and Taylor, C.R. (Ed.) Measurement and Research Methods in International Marketing (Advances in International Marketing, Vol. 22), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 53-71.



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