Methods for Maximizing Comparability in Cross-National and Cross-Cultural Surveys
Cross-national and cross-cultural research is an absolute necessity to understand contemporary human societies. To be useful comparative survey research needs to meet high scientific standards of reliability and validity and achieve functional equivalence across surveys. This is challenging because comparative survey research is a large-scale and complex endeavor that must be well-designed and well-executed to minimize error and maximize equivalence. This goal can be notably advanced by the application of the total survey error paradigm to cross-national/cultural survey research.
First, this session will cover the concept of total survey error, including interactions between the error components, its application when multiple surveys are involved, and comparison error across cross-national surveys. Second, obtaining functional equivalence and similarity in cross-national surveys will be addressed. Third, the challenges of doing cross-national surveys will be considered and how combining traditional approaches for maximizing functional equivalence can minimize comparison error and maximize comparative reliability and validity. Fourth, attention will be given to minimizing comparison error in question wordings in general and the availability of on-line resources for developing and testing items to be used in cross-national surveys. Special attention is given to dealing with differences in language, structure, and culture. Fifth, issues relating to evaluating scales designed to measure constructs in comparative survey research will be a topic to be examined. Finally, the importance of documentation for datasets is a topic on interest.