Using data collected from 21 different countries, this study employed a multilevel model in understanding why people choose dont know in public opinion surveys. Specifically, this study argues that item non-response could be attributable to factors beyond individual cognitive ability, although it does play a crucial role in the opinion-formation process. The results supported such a hypothesis as they indicated that uncertainty avoidance, individualism, and masculinity, as cultural characteristics, are all statistically significant predicators of item non-response. It is noteworthy that the uncertainty hypothesis and ambivalence hypothesis at the personal level were also supported, even after the cultural factors were taken into account. The findings bear great implications for both public opinion research and the development of nanotechnology across countries.
Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association