Response styles in factual items: Personal, contextual and cultural correlates

Jia He, Fons J. R. Van de Vijver
Published Online:
22 Feb 2016
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 51 Issue 6

Additional Options

This study investigated response styles in factual items and explored their associations with personal, contextual and cultural factors. Responses on various factual questions, cognitive tests and interviewers' observational data from a total of 152,514 respondents in 22 countries in the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) were analysed. Indexes of extreme, midpoint and acquiescent response styles were extracted from Likert‐scale and dichotomous responses of factual items. A general response style (GRS) with a positive loading of extreme response style and negative loadings of midpoint and acquiescent response styles was confirmed. This factor showed a similar cross‐cultural patterning as another general factor from attitudinal and self‐evaluative items of Likert scales in a previous study, which indicated the pervasiveness of response styles irrespective of types of survey items. In a multilevel analysis, the individual‐level GRS was found to be negatively related to being male, educational level and literacy competency, and positively related to 3rd‐person presence and background noise, and at country level negatively associated with socioeconomic development. Cross‐level interactions were also found. Implications on the pervasiveness and nature of response styles are discussed.

© 2016 International Union of Psychological Science