Courtesy bias in Latin America

Latin Americans are very famous for being warm and friendly. However, when doing a market research project in this region, that attitude poses a real challenge for researchers.  Courtesy bias arises when respondents attempt to guess what answer the interviewer wants to get and reply accordingly. For example, a new product test could result in saying respondents liked the product even if they didn’t.   Some suggestions to minimize this bias are:

  1. Start with a good questionnaire design: tilt answers towards negative questions («why is he leaving this movie?»…) and use third person language («many people around…»).
  2. Select and train interviewing staff: interviewers should create rapport among respondents, be neutral, and ensure anonymity of respondents. It is wise to select interviewers who belong to a similar background of the target market.
  3. Ensure the anonymity of the sponsor: avoid disclosing directly or indirectly the name of the company or institution that sponsors the research project.
  4. Reevaluate your sampling method: when dealing with delicate subjects sometimes a referral recruitment works better than a random recruitment, as the lack of trust with the interviewer or the recruiter might lead to more skewed answers.

The courtesy bias varies among among cultures. It can be a particular problem in Mexico and Central America, but not in Argentina.