Acquiescence response styles: A multilevel model explaining
individual-level and country-level differences
Beatrice Rammstedt ⁎, Daniel Danner, Michael Bosnjak
GESIS –Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Germany
Received 2 September 2016
Received in revised form 9 November 2016
Accepted 15 November 2016
Available online xxxx
Acquiescence has been found to distort the psychometric quality of questionnaire data. Previous research has
identiﬁed various determinants of acquiescence at both the individual and the country level. We aimed to syn-
thesize the scattered body of knowledge by concurrently testing a multilevel model encompassing a set of pre-
sumed predictors of acquiescence. Based on a representative sample comprising almost 40,000 respondents
from 20 European countries, we analyzed the effects of the country-level indicators economic wealth, corruption
level, and collectivism andthe individual-level indicators age, gender, educational attainment, and conservatism.
Results revealed that 15% of the variance in acquiescence was due to country-level variations in corruption levels
and collectivism. Differences among individuals within countries could be partially explained by conservatism
and educational attainment.
© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://
European Social Survey
Acquiescence—that is, the tendency to respond to descriptions of
conceptually distinct attributes or attitudes with agreement/afﬁrmation
(agreement acquiescence) or disagreement/opposition (counter-acqui-
escence) regardless of their content—has been widely recognized as a
threat to the validity of questionnaire-based data (e.g., Rammstedt,
Goldberg, & Borg, 2010; Soto, John, Gosling, & Potter, 2008). Speciﬁcally,
acquiescence can affect mean levels in item responding, thereby yield-
ing misleading mean differences. For example, Van Vlimmeren, Moors,
and Gelissen (2015) showed that country-level differences in trust in
NATO differed substantially before and after controlling for acquies-
cence. Such effects of acquiescence on mean-level differences can
occur if acquiescence differentially affects item responding across coun-
tries. Moreover, acquiescence may blur the intended factorial structure
of a questionnaire by biasing item variances and covariances
(Rammstedt et al., 2010). Finally, it has been shown that acquiescence
can substantially bias the associations between personality items and
behavioral criteria, thereby attenuating predictive validity (Danner,
Aichholzer, & Rammstedt, 2015).
Given the threats thatacquiescence poses to the validity of question-
naire-based data, theoverall aim of the study reported here was to sum-
marize and integrate the available body of knowledge with regard to
central socio-demographic and social indicators into one single concep-
tual model encompassing the presumed determinants of acquiescence.
In what follows, we begin by summarizing the reported evidence on in-
dividual-level determinants and then address country-level predictors.
1.1. Individual-level predictors of acquiescent responding
Numerous studies have revealedthat individuals differ systematical-
ly in their tendency to acquiesce. However, theempirical evidence is not
univocal. While somestudies have suggested that age is positively relat-
ed to acquiescence (e.g., Meisenberg & Williams, 2008; Weijters,
Geuens, & Schillewaert, 2010), others have failed to ﬁnd evidence in
support of this notion (e.g., Eid & Rauber, 2000). Findings with regard
to possible effects of gender on acquiescent responding are even more
heterogeneous. Some studies have suggested that women show, on av-
erage, a higher tendency towardacquiescent responding than men (e.g.,
Weijters et al., 2010), whereas others have found no gender effect (e.g.,
Marin, Gamba, & Marin, 1992). However, a broad consensus exists that
educational attainment is a source of systematic differences in the ten-
dency to acquiesce. Results of several studies have indicated that acqui-
escence appears to be more frequent among persons with a lower level
of educational attainment (e.g., Narayan & Krosnick, 1996; Rammstedt
et al., 2010; Rammstedt & Kemper, 2011). It has been suggested that
persons with relatively low education have less clear self-concepts,
smaller vocabularies, and less developed verbal comprehension skills
than more highly educated persons. This may make them relatively un-
certain when it comes to responding to questionnaire items, and may
thus leave more room for the inﬂuence of systematic response biases
(e.g., Goldberg, 1963). For some countries (e.g., Germany), this inverse
effect of education on acquiescence has been widely replicated. More-
over, there is evidence to suggest that this effect can be replicated in
several other countries, albeit with some exceptions (Danner et al.,
Personality and Individual Differences 107 (2017) 190–194
⁎Corresponding author at: GESIS –Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, PO Box 12
21 55, 68072 Mannheim, Germany.
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (B. Rammstedt).
0191-8869/© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
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journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/paid
2015; Rammstedt, Kemper, & Borg, 2013). However, results do not indi-
cate a simple generalizability of the inverse effect of education on acqui-
escence across all countries (Meisenberg & Williams, 2008; Rammstedt
et al., 2013). Rather, countries appear to differ systematically in this re-
gard. Moreover, Smith and Fischer (2008) were able to show that indi-
vidual-level interdependence, used as a proxy for a collectivistic cultural
orientation, was positively related to acquiescence. Taken together, the
literature on individual-level determinants of acquiescence partially
supportsthe role of age, gender, level of educational attainment, and de-
gree of conservatism in acquiescent responding.
1.2. Country-level predictors of acquiescent responding
In addition to individual differences in acquiescent responding, re-
cent research has identiﬁed cross-national differences in the tendency
to acquiesce, as reﬂected by mean-level differences (e.g., Javeline,
1999; Johnson, Kulesa, Cho, & Shavitt, 2005). For example, Van Herk,
Poortinga, and Verhallen (2004) investigated acquiescent response ten-
dencies in six European countries. The results revealed that respondents
in the Mediterranean countries scored higher on acquiescence than
those in the Northwestern European countries. A worldwide investiga-
tion of acquiescence was conducted by Meisenberg and Williams
(2008). Based on the World Value Survey conducted in 80 countries,
they showed that response styles were most prevalentin less developed
countries and that—at the country level—acquiescence could best be ex-
plained by the country's corruption level. The authors interpreted their
ﬁndings by suggesting that people who live in corrupt societies tend to
be subservient to powerful others—a tendency that carries over into
their survey responses. A similar effect was reported by Smith (2004),
suggesting that acquiescence is signiﬁcantly less pronounced in certain
European countries than in countries with lower levels of economic de-
velopment such as Panama, Nigeria, or the Philippines.
In addition, there is a broad consensus that response styles are sys-
tematically related to cultural variables (Hofstede, 2001; Schwartz,
1994) and that they tend to be more pronounced in traditional cultures
(Javeline, 1999). Speciﬁcally, several studies have suggested that the
prevalence of acquiescence differs across countries and depends on cul-
tural orientations. For example, a study by Johnson et al. (2005) indicat-
ed that collectivistic cultures were especially prone to acquiescent
responding. The authors hypothesized that members of collectivistic
nations experienced greater cultural pressure to acquiesce (Smith &
Fischer, 2008). Support for this association was also provided by
Harzing (2006), who investigated 26 countries from all major cultural
clusters in the world. However, Grimm and Church (1999) could not
conﬁrm the effect of collectivism on acquiescence response style.
In sum, the results of cross-national comparative research suggest
that there are systematic differences between countries with regard to
the mean tendency to acquiesce and that these differences are a func-
tion of the country's social and economic situation and its cultural
orientations—in particular, the degree to which collectivistic values
are endorsed. Thus, we expect that individual differences at the country
level can be explained by these variables.
1.3. Assessing acquiescent responding
Even though the natureof, and the reasons for, acquiescence are still
unclear, different approaches are used to investigate a person's tenden-
cy toward acquiescence. Some studies—especially those that use only
positively keyed items—use the percentage or ratio of items agreed
with (e.g. Harzing, 2006). For this approach, too, different methods of
including and weighting the responses are employed across studies. In-
stead of using only positively keyed items, recent studies (e.g. Johnson
et al., 2005, Rammstedt & Kemper, 2011; Rammstedt & Farmer, 2013;
Rammstedt et al., 2010, 2013; Soto et al., 2008) have used, whenever
possible, pairs of positively and negatively coded items assessing the
same construct (e.g., Prefer to be with others and Like to be all by oneself).
Persons with a high tendency toward acquiescence should have com-
paratively higher mean scores across these item pairs than those with
a lower tendency to acquiesce. Even though some studies report only
a weak consistency of acquiescence across different scales in general
(e.g. Ferrando, Condon, & Chico, 2004), other studies report latent corre-
lations rN0.71 between acquiescence indicators of such pairs of nega-
tively and positively keyed items (Danner et al., 2015).
1.4. The present study
As summarized above, past research has yielded evidenceof individ-
ual-level determinants (age, gender, and educational attainment) and
country-level predictors (economic development, degree of collectiv-
ism, corruption level) of the tendency to acquiesce. However, previous
studies have yielded inconsistent ﬁndings with regard to these charac-
teristics. These inconsistencies may be due to the fact that most of
these studies used highly selective samples that werenot representative
of the respective populations. In addition, to date no study has
concurrently and systematically investigated these country-level and
individual-level characteristics, taking into account the multilevel inter-
relationships between them.
The present study aimed to ﬁll this gap by investigating potential
determinants of acquiescence by simultaneously analyzing the different
country-level and individual-level characteristics and by relying on data
that were representative of the population in 20 European countries.
Speciﬁcally, we investigated the impact on the tendency toward
acquiescent responding of the country-level characteristics economic
wealth (GDP), corruption level, and levelof collectivism in combination
with the individual characteristics age, gender, educational level, and
degree of conservatism. Individual-level and country-level predictors
can be combined in one multilevel model where respondents (i)are
nested within countries (j), and differences in acquiescence at the
respondent level are modeled as acquiescence
(age) + β
(gender) + β
(education) + β
(conservatism) + ε
differences at the country level are modeled as β
(wealth) + γ
(corruption) + γ
(collectivism) + υ
2.1. Data source
The presentanalyses are based on data of the EuropeanSocial Survey
(ESS; www.europeansocialsurvey.org/data). The ESS is a cross-national
survey that investigates changes in social structure, conditions, and atti-
tudes in Europe. A key aim of the ESS is to implement high quality stan-
dards in its methodology. These high quality standards are especially
relevant for the translation and adaptation of the questionnaires to
guarantee comparability across the different countries. The survey has
been conducted every two years since 2001.
To test our conceptual multilevel model, we selected Round 1 of the
ESS (European Social Survey Round 1 Data, 2002) as a data source be-
cause it included several contrasting item pairs that had already been
used in an earlier study as an indicator for acquiescence (Johnson,
Mohler, Harkness, & Braun, 2010).
The 2002 round of the ESS collected data from 22 European coun-
tries. For the present analyses, only those countries for which all rele-
vant indicators were available were included. Therefore, Italy and
Luxembourg were excluded from our analyses because conservatism
was not assessed in these countries. A list of the countries included in
our analyses can be found in Table 1. In each country, a sample repre-
sentative of the population aged 15 years and over was drawn. Design
weights provided in the data set were applied to adjust for different se-
lection probabilities. The number of interviews conducted ranged
191B. Rammstedt et al. / Personality and Individual Differences 107(2017) 190–194
between 1360 in the Czech Republic and 2919 in Germany, with a total
sample size of 39,600 respondents.
ESS questionnaires are administered as face-to-face interviews. Par-
ticipation is voluntary and not usually incentivized—although some
countries offer small incentives in order to increase participation. (For
a detailed description of the samples and the assessment design, see
European Social Survey Round 1 Data, 2002).
2.3. Measures and procedure
2.3.1. Individual-level characteristics
184.108.40.206. Demographics. Respondents' age was assessed in ESS Round 1
via the year of birth. Gender was assessed in ESS Round 1 with a di-
chotomous variable (1 = men, 2 = women). Levels of educational
attainment were assessed in all countries on the basis of the national
education system. Later, the ESS researchers harmonized these na-
tional data in to one variable with reference to the International Stan-
dard Classiﬁcation of Education (ISCED) 1997 levels, which yielded
ﬁve categories: (1) “Less than lower secondary education (ISCED
0–1)”;(2)“Lower secondary education completed (ISCED 2)”;(3)
“Upper secondary education completed (ISCED 3)”;(4)“Post-sec-
ondary, non-tertiary education completed (ISCED 4)”;(5)“Tertiary
education completed (ISCED 5)”.
220.127.116.11. Conservatism. As a supplement to the ESS, the Portrait Values
Questionnaire (PVQ; Schwartz, Melech, Lehmann, Burgess, & Harris,
2001) was administered, allowing, among other things, the assessment
of the higher order value dimension conservatism, which overlaps
strongly with the cultural orientation collectivism as deﬁned by Hofstede
(see, e.g., Schwartz & Ros, 1996). The conservatism dimension includes
the lower order scales conformity,tradition,andsecurity. It includes
items such as “She/he believes that people should do what they're
told”(conformity). All items are to be answered on a six-point scale
ranging from not like me at all to very much like me. Cronbach's alpha
ranged between 0.67 (Hungary) and 0.78 (Austria).
2.3.2. Country-level characteristics
18.104.22.168. Economic wealth. As an indicator for the economic wealth of each
country, the logarithm of its gross domestic product (GDP, adjusted for
purchasing power) averaged across the years 1990 to 2002 (as sug-
gested by Meisenberg & Williams, 2008), was used. Information was re-
trieved from the World Development Indicators of the World Bank
22.214.171.124. Corruption level. A measure of the corruption level per country
was obtained based on averaged scores of Transparency International's
Corruption Perceptions Index for the years 1999–2005 (transparency.
126.96.36.199. Collectivism. Country-level scores on an individualism-collectiv-
ism scale for the 20 countries investigated in the present study were
taken from Hofstede (2001).
As an indicator of acquiescent responding, an acquiescence measure
was constructed on the basis of eight pairs of survey responses from the
ESS questionnaire. These item pairs, which constituted sets of state-
ments that clearly represented opposing opinions, stem from different
question blocks within the ESS questionnaire and are intended to mea-
sure different constructs ranging from socio-political evaluations to atti-
tudes toward migrants. A full list of these item pairs can be found in
Table S1. All items wereto be answered on a ﬁve-point Likert scale rang-
ing from agree strongly to disagree strongly.
In line with earlier research (Aichholzer, 2014; Billiet & McClendon,
2000; Danner et al., 2015; Rammstedt et al., 2010; Rammstedt &
Kemper, 2011; Rammstedt & Farmer, 2013), we scored the acquies-
cence scale by averaging all 16 items. Given that eight items were pos-
itively keyed and eight items were negatively keyed, the resulting
mean score does not reﬂect any construct variance but rather only ac-
quiescence (and random measurement error). We estimated the reli-
ability of the acquiescence index by subtracting each item from its
opposing item and subsequently calculated Cronbach's alpha.
Sample characteristics for the 20 countries investigated.
NCountry indicators Individual indicators Acquiescence
GDP CL Collectivism Age (M) Female (%) LE (M) Conservatism (M) Mean SD
Austria 2257 198 7.8 55 46.59 54 2.92 2.88
Belgium 1899 244 7.1 75 44.83 49 3.05 2.71 3.28 0.38
Switzerland 2040 216 8.5 68 47.56 52 3.32 2.96 3.24 0.32
Czech Republic 1360 148 3.7 58 51.91 52 3.10 2.50 3.38 0.36
Germany 2919 1939 7.3 67 47.31 52 3.36 2.83 3.27 0.30
Denmark 1506 130 9.5 74 46.43 49 3.31 3.07 3.08 0.34
Spain 1729 720 7.1 51 48.60 53 2.39 2.36 3.44 0.36
Finland 2000 110 9.7 63 45.63 52 2.89 2.75 3.36 0.38
France 1503 1327 6.3 71 47.32 55 2.96 2.80 3.45 0.40
United Kingdom 2052 1329 8.7 89 48.57 53 2.78 2.80 3.28 0.32
Greece 2566 178 4.2 35 49.66 57 2.30 2.03 3.59 0.37
Hungary 1685 107 4.9 80 46.14 52 2.81 2.45 3.44 0.37
Ireland 2046 80 6.9 70 45.71 54 2.90 2.53 3.35 0.33
Israel 2499 114 7.3 54 41.77 54 3.31 2.45 3.33 0.37
Netherlands 2364 395 9 80 48.07 56 2.98 2.85 3.15 0.33
Norway 2036 119 8.5 69 45.82 46 3.44 3.01 3.16 0.31
Poland 2110 318 4 60 42.9 51 2.94 2.26 3.48 0.32
Portugal 1511 150 6.3 27 47.86 58 1.88 2.78 3.58 0.34
Sweden 1999 214 9.3 71 46.26 49 2.93 3.17 3.21 0.28
Slovenia 1519 33 6 20 44.42 52 2.94 2.51 3.35 0.33
Mean 1980 145 7.1 62 46.67 53 2.93 2.69 3.34 0.34
SD 409 139 1.9 18 2.28 3 0.38 0.29 0.14 0.03
Notes. GDP = gross domestic product in billion EUR adjusted for purchasing power; CL = Corruption level from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean); collectivism scale from 0 (collec-
tivistic) to 100 (individualistic); age = mean age; LE = level of education from 1 (less than lower secondary education) to 5 (tertiary education completed); conservatism from 1 (indi-
vidualistic) to 6 (conservative).
192 B. Rammstedt et al. / Personality and Individual Differences 107 (2017) 190–194
Cronbach's alpha was 0.47 on average and varied between 0.39 (Den-
mark) and 0.58 (Greece).
Table 1 provides an overview of the distribution of the different indi-
cators investigated in the 20 countries.
In a ﬁrst step, we investigated whether the 20 countries differed in
their tendency toward acquiescent responding. We speciﬁed a baseline
multilevel model with respondents (i) being nested within countries
that allowed acquiescence differences be-
tween countries, β
. The model parameterswere estimated
using the residual maximum likelihood estimator implemented in SAS
9.3. The model revealed an intra-class correlation of ICC = 0.15, which
indicates that 15% of the total acquiescence variance can be explained
by systematic country differences. Hence, the 20 European countries in-
vestigated differed systematically in their mean tendency toward acqui-
escent responding. On average, the highest acquiescence scores were
found in Greece, followed by Portugal and Poland; the lowest mean ac-
quiescence scores were found in Norway, the Netherlands, and Den-
mark (see Table 1).
In a second step, we concurrently investigated different possible de-
terminants of these between-country and within-country differences in
acquiescent responding: We conducted a second multilevel analysis
with age, gender, educational level, and the degree of conservatism as
individual factors: acquiescence
(age) + β
(education) + β
(conservatism) + ε
. At the country level, we inves-
tigated economic wealth, corruption level, and degree of collectivism:
(wealth) + γ
(corruption) + γ
. The intercorrelations between the individual-level predictor vari-
ables and between the country-level predictors are shown in Table S2.
They indicate that GDP and collectivism, in particular, are moderately
interrelated (−0.42). The results of the second multilevel model ﬁtted
to the data are shown in Table 2.
With the exception of GDP, all country-level predictors contributed
signiﬁcantly to explaining the tendency to acquiesce. The highest—and
following Cohen (1992) alarge—effect on acquiescence was estimated
for the country's corruption level (η= 0.473): The higher the level of
corruption, the greater was the tendency toward acquiescence in that
country. A country's level of collectivism also had a large effect on acqui-
escence (η= 0.187): The more collectivistic the country, the higher was
the overall tendency to acquiesce. In addition to the country's cultural
orientation, the individual's degree of conservatism was the strongest
predictor of acquiescence at the individual level (η= 0.045) although
this effect was small to moderate in size. Further variance in acquies-
cence could be explained by the individual's level of education (η=
0.029). Thus, at the individual level, respondents with a low degree of
conservatism and with a lower level of educational attainment exhibit-
ed a higher tendency toward acquiescent responding. Most likely due to
the large sample size, the effect of age and gender was also statistically
signiﬁcant. However, age contributed only marginally (η= 0.004) to
explaining the variance in our model, and gender did not explain a sub-
stantialportion of the varianceat all. Overall, at respondent level,educa-
tion, age, gender, and degree of conservatism explained 10% of
acquiescent responding, and at country level, wealth, degree of collec-
tivism, and corruption level explained 74% of acquiescent responding.
To ensure that our results were notdue to capitalizing on chance and
that they were not biased by the correlation between GDP, collectivism,
and conservatism at the country level, in particular, we conducted a set
of robustness checks. First, we cross-validated the results of the multi-
level analyses by randomly splitting each country sample into two sub-
samples and then replicated the analyses for both splits. The pattern of
results was very similar for both splits, which suggests no effect of cap-
italization on chance (see Table S3). In addition, we investigated the bi-
asing effectof the intercorrelations of our predictors at the country level.
We therefore excluded each of these three variables in turn from the
analyses. The pattern of the results was highly comparable to that orig-
inally found (see Table S4). We also investigated whether the associa-
tion between acquiescence and age, gender, education, or
conservatism differed between countries and speciﬁed the associations
as random effects which did not change the pattern of results (all
Δβb0.002). Finally, we also investigated whether our measure of ac-
quiescence and our conservatism measure were invariant across coun-
tries. In particular, we investigated conﬁgural invariance (same factor
structure), metric invariance (same factor loadings), and scalar invari-
ance (same factor loadings and same intercepts) with multi-group
structural equation models. The metric invariance models showed ac-
ceptable model ﬁts (RMSEA b0.07, SRMR ≤0.05), whereas the scalar in-
variance model revealed a poor model ﬁt for both scales (RMSEA N0.11,
SRMR N0.10). Likewise, the change in RMSEA (ΔRMSEA b0.015) and
SRMR (ΔSRMR b0.030) also suggest accepting metric invariance for
both scales (Chen, 2007).
The aim of the present study was to develop and test a comprehen-
sive model encompassing individual-level determinants and country-
level predictors of the tendency toward acquiescent responding in
Our results corroborate systematic differences in acquiescence be-
tween countries: 15% of thevariance in acquiescence could be explained
by country differences, while the remaining 85% was due to individual
variations among the respondents within countries. Thus, the European
countries included in our study differed substantially in their tendency
toward acquiescence. With our set of predictors we were able to explain
three-quarters of the country-level differences. The most central indica-
tor explaining thesedifferences in acquiescence between countries was
the corruption level of the respective countries, followed by differences
in their respective cultural orientations. The higher the corruption level
and the level of collectivism of a country, the greater was the overall
Even though these reliability estimatesare too low to make inferences about individ-
ual respondents, they arein line with previous research (e.g., Danneret al., 2015) and thus
can be seen as sufﬁcient for regression analyses.
Acquiescence regressed on country-level and respondent-level predictors.
Level Predictor Regression
Country GDP 0.013 0.450 0.000
Collectivism 0.002 0.041 0.187 0.000
0.039 0.001 0.473 0.000
Respondent Education −0.043 b0.001 0.176 0.029
Age 0.001 b0.001 0.000
Gender −0.010 0.002 0.000
Conservatism 0.073 b0.001 0.085 0.045
For the regression analysis, the corruption index was multiplied by −1, so that a high
value on thecorruption scalecorresponds to a highlevel of corruptionin the country. Gen-
der: 1 = male, 2 = fema le. Variance explained at country le vel was calculate d as
(without predictor) −υ
(with predictor)] / υ
(without predictor ). Variance ex-
plained at respondent level was calculated as [ε
(without predictor) −ε
tor)] / ε
Values b0wereﬁxed to 0.
We did not use χ
-cifference tes ts because in large samples (as the ESS) the χ
difference test is likely to be statistically signiﬁcant even if the magnitude of the differ-
ences in not meaningful.
193B. Rammstedt et al. / Personality and Individual Differences 107(2017) 190–194
tendency to acquiesce. By contrast, the economic wealth of the country
had no signiﬁcant additional effect on acquiescence. These results
support Meisenberg and Williams' (2008) assumption that people
living in corrupt societies are more subservient to powerful others.
However, it has to be kept in mind that the present study investigated
only European and thus comparatively wealthy countries. It needs,
therefore, to be investigated in future studies if economic wealth has
an additional effect on acquiescence based on a more heterogeneous
set of countries.
Individual indicators such as educational level and degree of conser-
vatism differed systematically across the countries and thus contributed
to the explanation of the between-country differences in this response
Moreover, besides these differences between countries, our results
revealed systematic differences between subpopulations: Some sub-
populations within countries were more prone to acquiescence than
others. Ten percent of these individual differences could be explained
by our set of predictors. In line with previous research (e.g., Narayan &
Krosnick, 1996; Rammstedt et al., 2010), our results revealed
that—across all countries—individuals with lower levels of educational
attainment and less conservative individuals were more prone to acqui-
escent responding than higher educated and more conservative
In contrast, the effect reported in earlier studies (see Weijters et al.,
2010) that females have, on average, a higher tendency toward acquies-
cence could not be replicated. Rather, we found a statistically signiﬁcant
but not substantial effect of gender that indicated a slightly greater ten-
dency toward acquiescence on the part of males compared to females.
Earlier ﬁndings with regard to the effects of age on acquiescence
were inconsistent. While some studies suggested that older individuals
have a greater tendency toward acquiescence (e.g., Meisenberg &
Williams, 2008; Weijters et al., 2010), others identiﬁed no substantial
effect of age (e.g., Eid & Rauber, 2000). Our results support these albeit
somewhat contradictory ﬁndings insofar as we found asmall statistical-
ly, but not practically, signiﬁcant effect of agein the suggested direction.
In sum, our results support the notion that the corruption level and
the cultural orientation of a country, inparticular, explain cross-national
differences in acquiescent responding. Taking these indicators into ac-
count, the economic wealth of a country was not found to contribute
to the explanation of cross-national differences. This contrasts with
ﬁndings of previous studies that did not control for other indicators.
Overall, our study substantially contributes to an understanding of
cross-national differences in acquiescent responding. Systematic
cross-national response artifacts, as detected in our study, may be
misinterpreted as substantive differences across countries or cultures.
Therefore, before drawing any conclusions from cross-national surveys,
due caution should be taken to reduce acquiescence ex ante (e.g., by
using balanced scales; Billiet & McClendon, 2000) or to control for
acquiescence ex post (e.g., by using ipsatized data; Brown & Maydeu-
Olivares, 2011). Typical areas of application for such ex-ante or post-
hoc measures aimed at reducing acquiescence are all questionnaire-
based data collections performed in multinational, multicultural, and
multiregional contexts. Examples include, but are not limited to, inter-
national employee surveys (e.g., Johnson et al., 2005), cross-national
media usagestudies (e.g., Kuru & Pasek, 2016), and cross-cultural health
surveys (Shavitt et al., 2016). In all these areas, variations in acquies-
cence carry the danger of being misinterpreted as differences in organi-
zational commitment, media exposure habits, or health-related
compliance. Therefore, mindfully considering and correcting for acqui-
escence should yield a more accurate picture about ‘true’differences,
and help to prevent deriving inappropriate subsequent measures.
Appendix A. Supplementary data
Supplementary data to this article can be found online at http://dx.
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Billiet, J. B., & McClendon, M. J. (2000). Modeling acquiescence in measurement models
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