Publication Details

This article was originally published as: Dolnicar, S, Are we drawing the right conclusions? The dangers of response sets and scale assumptions in empirical tourism research, Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Consumer Psychology in Tourism and Hospitality, 2005.


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 is 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 which have developed within the tourism research community and are not questioned anymore: ordinal answer formats dominate the field, ordinal data is 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.