Over the last decades, the cross-cultural survey has become the de facto instrument of global market research (Chan, 2010). Multi-national corporations, operating in more and more countries, seek insight into how to sell their products and services to consumers around the world, while social scientists are interested in cross-cultural comparative research.
But what conclusions are drawn from all this cross-cultural survey research? Do market researchers recognize that home culture influences how respondents react to questions and survey scales? Past studies have shown significant differences in the way that people deal with surveys and respond to survey scales (Harzing, 2006), and if these differences are not accounted for in a survey study, the market research is flawed. Researchers need to account for the influence of cultural response patterns not only in their interpretation of survey questions but also in their design of survey options. In one culture, distractors placed in extreme edge positions will have more power than in another culture, and this bias needs to be accounted for in option design.