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Using Cognitive Interviewing for the Semantic Enhancement of Multi-Lingual Versions of Personality Questionnaires

McDowall, A. & Daouk, L. (2012). Using Cognitive Interviewing for the Semantic Enhancement of Multi-Lingual Versions of Personality Questionnaires. Journal of Personality Assessment, 95(4), pp. 407-416. doi: 10.1080/00223891.2012.735300


We discuss the use of cognitive interviewing with bilinguals as an integral part of cross-cultural adaptation of personality questionnaires. The aim is to maximize semantic equivalence to increase the likelihood of items maintaining the intended structure and meaning in the target language. We refer to this part of adaptation as semantic enhancement, and integrate cognitive interviewing within it as a tool for scrutinizing translations, the connotative meaning, and the psychological impact of items across languages. During the adaptation of a work-based personality questionnaire from English to Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), and Spanish, we cognitively interviewed 12 bilingual participants about 136 items in different languages (17% of all items), of which 67 were changed. A content analysis categorizing the reasons for amending items elicited eleven errors that affect two identified forms of semantic equivalence. We provide the resultant coding scheme as a framework for designing cognitive interviewing protocols and propose a procedure for implementing them. We discuss implications for theory and practice

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT] on 31st October 2012, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Cognitive interviewing; Test adaptation; Cross-cultural assessment; Test translation; Equivalence
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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