, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 729-746

Linking qualitative and quantitative methods in cross-cultural survey research: Techniques from cognitive science

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Survey research with diverse cultural and ethnic minority groups is a complex and challenging endeavor that confronts the researcher with problems related to linguistic and conceptual equivalence and measurement as well as problems related to difficulties that respondents have with the sociocultural dimensions of the survey/interview process. One way to improve the quality of cross-cultural surveys and to insure that the findings are culturally relevant and accurate is to combine qualitative and quantitative methods. This paper proposes that certain qualitative techniques from cognitive science, specifically cognitive anthropology and cognitive psychology, are particularly well suited to being combined with survey research. These techniques provide information corresponding to the underlying thought processes of respondents and enable researchers to better understand how different cultural and ethnic groups construe the world. The information obtained can be used improve the formulation of survey questions, design and structure questionnaire formats to coincide with the way particular groups organize concepts, and help researchers understand difficulties respondents may have with the survey/interview process. In addition, the techniques produce data that are easily codifiable and more manageable than traditional qualitative techniques including participant observation and in-depth interviews.