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Web Survey Bibliography

Title Watch Your Language!: The Impact of the Survey Language on Bilingual Hispanics’ Response Process
Year 2013
Access date 31.05.2013

Cross-cultural studies have been the focus of researchers creating and analyzing globally comparative data. However, the construct validity of the questions across cultures is a concern for data quality. Survey questions should have the same meaning and sentence structures across the languages. Current efforts are inclined to standardize survey questions across multiple languages, yet the impact of language itself as a potential confound remains untested. Linguists debate if language shapes individuals’ thoughts and judgments or if a universal language of thinking exists (Whorf & Carrol, 1956; Chomsky, 1976). Given that increasing numbers of surveys are conducted in multiple languages, the debate among linguists introduces practical, yet untested, concerns. If the language that people use affects their thoughts and judgments, inter-language differences in multiple language surveys reflect not only true cross-cultural differences in attitudes and behaviors but also differences created by language itself. It is hypothesized that completing a survey in a specific language will prime respondents into thinking in a culture-specific way. Bilingual Hispanics are ideal subjects for this study because of their bridge between both non-Hispanic and Hispanic cultures and their ability to communicate in both English and Spanish. A Web-based survey experiment was conducted on a sample of 620 respondents from GfK’s KnowledgePanel Latino to determine how the survey language would influence responses. Bilingual Hispanics were randomly assigned to receive questions in English (n=156) or Spanish (n=155) along with two control groups: English-only Hispanics (n=154) and Spanish-only Hispanics (n=155). Differences in acculturation between the two bilingual groups were examined to ensure randomization occurred properly. Even after controlling for demographic differences, preliminary analysis indicated differences between the two bilingual groups on topics related to self-efficacy. The differences are evidence of language priming and have potential implications for the data quality of multi-language, multi-cultural, and cross-national survey work.

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Conference Homepage (abstract)

Year of publication2013
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations