Response Styles in Attitudinal Scales: An Example of Immigrant and Reunification Attitudes





Published date: 

December, 2007


Su-Hao Tu
Pei-Shan Liao


This article explores different response styles by using two scales representing attitudes toward immigrants and reunion across the Taiwan Strait. Data were collected from a face-to-face survey – the 2003 Taiwan Social Change Survey. A response style index was first used to compare response style across scales. Exploratory Factor Analysis, Latent Class Factor Model-continuous indicators and Latent Class Factor Model-nominal indicators were then used to compare the response patterns (styles) of the nine attitudinal items. Multivariate analyses with and without including response styles were finally compared across the three factor analysis-type models.

The results based on the response style index exhibited a tendency toward a mild response style. The three types of models indicated that the Latent Class Factor Model-nominal indicators for four latent factors provided a better fit than the others, while two response styles were derived from this model – the middle response style and the extreme response style. Concerning social-demographics, males, the ethnic minority in Taiwan, those who identified themselves as high, middle, or low class, and those with less than a primary school or more than a college education tended to choose middle points among the answering scales. On the other hand, females, the ethnic minority in Taiwan, those with less than a junior high school education, those who considered themselves to be middle or high class, and those who were less than 29 or more than 60 years old tended to choose extreme response categories. In conclusion, the identification of response styles revealed that the association between attitudes and two characteristics, namely, gender and social class, could be spurious. In other words, response styles should not be neglected in the examination of the two attitudes demonstrated in this article.