Ambiguity in the Item Wording, Ambiguity in the Respondents’ Comprehension?
An experiment included in the Italian joint edition of the European Value Study-World Values Survey 2017 has studied the working of the item “immigrants/foreign workers” in the social distance scale. Since the item could appear ambiguous as it refers to two different categories of people – i.e., foreign workers are a subgroup of immigrants – the authors tried to answer the following research question: Do the respondents’ answers refer to immigrants? To foreign workers? To both?
By assigning respondents to three different formulations of the item (“immigrants/foreign workers”, “immigrants”, “foreign workers”), the results suggests that ambiguity in the item wording does not necessarily mean ambiguity in the respondents’ comprehension.
Indeed, at least in the Italian context, people react to the “immigrants” and “immigrants/foreign workers” items in a similar way. Thus, the results of the experiment provide some useful suggestions for reviewing the questionnaire for EVS, WVS, and other surveys using the immigrants/foreign workers item in the social distance scale. See Riccardo Ladini and Ferruccio Biolcati’s article “Ambiguity in the Item Wording, Ambiguity in the Respondents’ Comprehension? An Experiment on the ‘Immigrants/Foreign Workers’ Social Distance Item in Values Surveys” published in Survey Research Methods (Open Access).