Sources of Response Bias in Older Ethnic Minorities: A Case of Korean American Elderly

Miyong T. Kim, Ju Young Lee, Jisook Ko, Hyunwoo Yoon, Kim B. Kim, Yuri Jang

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3 Scopus citations


The present study was undertaken to investigate potential sources of response bias in empirical research involving older ethnic minorities and to identify prudent strategies to reduce those biases, using Korean American elderly (KAE) as an example. Data were obtained from three independent studies of KAE (N = 1,297; age ≥60) in three states (Florida, New York, and Maryland) from 2000 to 2008. Two common measures, Pearlin’s Mastery Scale and the CES-D scale, were selected for a series of psychometric tests based on classical measurement theory. Survey items were analyzed in depth, using psychometric properties generated from both exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis as well as correlational analysis. Two types of potential sources of bias were identified as the most significant contributors to increases in error variances for these psychological instruments. Error variances were most prominent when (1) items were not presented in a manner that was culturally or contextually congruent with respect to the target population and/or (2) the response anchors for items were mixed (e.g., positive vs. negative). The systemic patterns and magnitudes of the biases were also cross-validated for the three studies. The results demonstrate sources and impacts of measurement biases in studies of older ethnic minorities. The identified response biases highlight the need for re-evaluation of current measurement practices, which are based on traditional recommendations that response anchors should be mixed or that the original wording of instruments should be rigidly followed. Specifically, systematic guidelines for accommodating cultural and contextual backgrounds into instrument design are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-283
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 19 Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Cultural bias
  • Ethnic minority elderly
  • Response bias


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