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Cross-Cultural Surveys and Instrument Development Essay

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Updated: Sep 22nd, 2022

Cross-cultural surveys are aimed at producing measures that can be compared across multicultural populations. For the sake of maximum comparability, strict design guidelines for those kinds of research are usually avoided (Survey Research Center, 2016). When conducting cross-cultural surveys, it is necessary to account for a variety of widely varying factors such as the access to sampling frames of good quality, available choices of communication, transportation and infrastructure, and the need for accommodation of many languages (Survey Research Center, 2016).

A research instrument is a systematic tool designed to collect data (Tran, 2009). There are three methods of instrument development that are applicable to cross-cultural surveys: adopting an existing instrument, modifying an existing instrument, and developing a new instrument (Tran, 2009). The steps in the process of developing a new instrument have to be a part of the self-reflective framework; that is, they have to evaluate each phase for possible modification or restructuring (Tran, 2009). Formulation of the aims of a survey depends on the context of cross-cultural settings. In order to make it cross-culturally appropriate, researchers are expected to take into account the needs of nations or communities they study as well as address the interests of funding institutions (Tran, 2009). The boundary of the research is often defined by the availability of the resources and the availability of the study participants (Issel, 2013). Defining the groups for cross-cultural comparisons is another important step of the instrument development process. The number of individuals in each group, as well as the group’s number, have to be decided at this stage (Tran, 2009). The researchers should also agree on the main characteristics of participants such as socioeconomic status, age, and sex among others. The next phase of developing an instrument for a survey is a process of identifying key variables, and it comes after the research goals, questions, and hypotheses have been defined. The research variables have to be aligned with the cross-cultural aims of the study (Tran, 2009). The development of the research instruments should follow a comprehensive literature review that might help the research team to discover already existing tools that would fit their survey aims (Tran, 2009). The process of modifying old instruments has to involve multilevel translation specialists. They transform the questions so they would fit the language framework of the target population. In order to develop new survey tools, a long and expensive procedure of measurement equivalence, as well as the involvement of prospective groups, is required. If surveys are not culturally appropriate, not only would it negatively impact the process of the collection of data, it would also distort its interpretation (Tran, 2009).

Culture has a significant influence on the way meanings are being attributed to the survey results. It also influences the data collection and interpretation processes (Issel, 2013). If the surveys specifically designed to fit one particular culture are being used for another one, it might create a significant conceptual problem for researchers (Survey Research Center, 2016). For example, it is not appropriate to use measurement instruments developed for American culture for the evaluation of Chinese culture (Issel, 2013). In order to avoid the issue of ethnocentrism, it is recommended to either transform existing research instruments or develop new ones. The data in numerous studies indicate that even widely used questionnaires have to be specifically adjusted to make them culturally appropriate (Issel, 2013).

References

Issel, L. M. (2013). Health program planning and evaluation: A practical, systematic approach for community health. (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Survey Research Center. (2016). Guidelines for Best Practice in Cross-Cultural Surveys. Web.

Tran, T. (2009). Developing cross-cultural measurement. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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