Response formats in cross-cultural comparisons in Web-based surveys
Randall K. Thomas, George Terhanian, & Frederik Funke

Paper presented at the 11th annual General Online Research Tagung (GOR) conference of the German Society for Online Research (D.G.O.F.)
April 6-8, 2009 in Vienna (Austria)

Many different response formats have been used in Web-based survey to measure attitudes. Two common measures are numeric box entry and single response radio buttons. A newer technique has been the visual analog scale (VAS). In Web-based surveys, respondents click on the line that best represents their position. Another common method often used in telephone surveys to measure attitudes has been a branching approach - first measure the direction of attitude and then the degree of attitude.
One issue in the use of attitude measures is the extent to which cultural and country differences in scale usage could influence responses. Some have suggested that the VAS or branching approaches may be measures that could minimize cultural biases. In this study we investigated branching, radio button, numeric box, and VAS attitudinal measures across multiple countries. Respondents were asked to indicate how much they liked doing a variety of behaviors using the scales assigned. They were then asked how often they engaged in the behavior in the past 30 days, which formed the primary criterion. We examined the length of time it took to complete the scales (branching and VAS took the longest), and will report on how response distributions were affected by response format and culture, and how response format affected criterion-related validity.