Article: article from journal or magazin.
Language Ability and Motivation among Foreigners in Survey Responding
Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology
With increasing migration and linguistic diversification in many countries, survey researchers and methodologists should consider whether data provided by individuals with variable levels of command of the survey language are of the same quality. This paper examines the question of whether answers from resident foreign respondents who do not master available survey languages may suffer from problems of comprehension of survey items, especially items that are more complicated in terms of content and/or form. In addition, it addresses the extent to which motivation may affect the response quality of resident foreigners. We analyzed data from two large-scale surveys conducted in Switzerland, a country with three national languages and a burgeoning foreign population, employing a set of dependent measures of response quality, including don't know responses, extreme responding, mid-5 responding, recency effects, and straight-lining. Results show overall poorer response quality among foreigners, and indicate that both reduced language mastery and motivation among foreigners are relevant factors. This is especially true for foreign groups from countries that do not share a common language with those spoken in Switzerland. A general conclusion is that the more distant respondents are culturally and linguistically from the majority mainstream within a country, the more their data may be negatively affected. We found that more complex types of questions do generally lead to poorer response quality, but to a much lesser extent than respondent characteristics, such as nationality, command of the survey language, level of education, and age.
Language ability, Question complexity, Respondent motivation, Response quality
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