Web Survey Bibliography
User- and customer-centered Web sites often feature design elements incorporating individualization and personalization. This is often accomplished with the aid of personal user data and “recommender systems", e.g., in e-Commerce. Examples of personalization elements are individual- or group-based product recommendation lists (i.e., lists tailored to individual user tastes or, respectively, group-based lists such as "bestsellers" or "hit parades") as well as personally addressing the users by name while they are visiting a Web site. Within the framework of a research project in the field of "cross-cultural internet research" conducted at the Department of Psychology at the University of Freiburg, personal attitudes and behavioral tendencies associated with personalization elements were analyzed for users from different cultural backgrounds. The study was aimed at revealing the possible presence of a "Western ethnocentrism." Particularly, it was examined whether gearing design principles (such as elements of personalization) toward North American or Western European maxims (such as emphasizing individuality) were universally accepted and appreciated. The specific question was whether members of Western, individualistic cultures with a predominant selforientation would have a more positive attitude toward explicitly individual-based elements on a Web site than would members of non-Western, collectivist cultures with a prevailing group-orientation. Furthermore, culture-specific preferences concerning the type of product recommendation lists (individual- vs. groupbased) were investigated. The research instrument was an online questionnaire about "music preferences" which was completed by 149 US-Americans (individualistic culture group) and 116 Japanese (collectivist culture group). Additionally, 230 Germans took part in the survey. The questionnaire was designed in all three languages. It comprised several personalization elements, attitude ratings, a cultural orientation scale, and a situation in which the participants had to make a decision between two product recommendation lists (individual- vs. group-based). According to the results, the Americans had a more positive attitude toward personalization elements than their Japanese counterparts. With regard to the preference for individual- or group-based product recommendation lists, no differences between the two culture groups could be detected. An additional content analysis of the participants’ explanatory statements concerning their list decisions yielded interesting clues about the motivations underlying those decisions.