Survey data are often used to map cultural diversity by aggregating scores of attitude and value items across countries. However, this procedure only makes sense if the same concept is measured in all countries. In this study we argue that when (co)variances among sets of items are similar across countries, these countries share a common way of assigning meaning to the items. Clusters of cultures can then be observed by doing a cluster analysis on the (co)variance matrices of sets of related items. This study focuses on family values and gender role attitudes. We find four clusters of cultures that assign a distinct meaning to these items, especially in the case of gender roles. Some of these differences reflect response style behavior in the form of acquiescence. Adjusting for this style effect impacts on country comparisons hence demonstrating the usefulness of investigating the patterns of meaning given to sets of items prior to aggregating scores into cultural characteristics.
- cross-cultural comparative research
- measurement invariance
- cultural diversity
- gender roles
- family values