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Are We Drawing the Right Conclusions? The Dangers of Answer Format Effects in Empirical Tourism Research

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Empirical tourism research has a long history, and empirically based findings represent an important component of theory development and managerial insight. Nevertheless, empirical data of any kind are susceptible to misinterpretation. The aim of this study is to investigate to which extent empirical tourism research accounts for three sources of potential misinterpretation of results: (1) the occurrence of answer format effects, (2) the occurrence of culturally specific response styles, and (3) the selection of data analytic techniques appropriate for the data format. A review of 43 academic publications from 2000 and 2001 suggests that empirical tourism research is strongly guided by standards that have developed within the tourism research community and are not questioned anymore: ordinal answer formats dominate the field, ordinal data are analyzed using techniques requiring metric data, and cross-cultural response styles are ignored, which is a particularly concerning finding given the amount of cross-cultural comparisons typically undertaken in tourism research. Recommendations for improvement are made.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2006

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  • The aim of Tourism Analysis is to promote a forum for practitioners and academicians in the fields of Leisure, Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality (LRTH). As a interdisciplinary journal, it is an appropriate outlet for articles, research notes, and computer software packages designed to be of interest, concern, and of applied value to its audience of professionals, scholars, and students of LRTH programs the world over.
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