Respondents can vary strongly in the way they use rating scales. Specifically, respondents can exhibit a variety of response styles, which threatens the validity of the responses. The purpose of this article is to investigate how response style and content of the items affect rating scale responses. The authors develop a novel model that accounts for different types of response styles, content of items, and background characteristics of respondents. By imposing a bilinear parameter structure on a multinomial logit model, the authors graphically distinguish the effects on the response behavior of the characteristics of a respondent and the content of an item. The authors combine this approach with finite mixture modeling, yielding two segmentations of the respondents: one for response style and one for item content. They apply this latent-class bilinear multinomial logit model to the well-known List of Values in a cross-national context. The results show large differences in the opinions and the response styles of respondents and reveal previously unknown response styles. Some response styles appear to be valid communication styles, whereas other response styles often concur with inconsistent opinions of the items and seem to be response bias.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal of Marketing Research
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

van Rosmalen, J., van Herk, H., & Groenen, P. (2010). Identifying Response Styles: A Latent-Class Bilinear Multinomial Logit Model. Journal of Marketing Research, 47(1), 157–172. Retrieved from