Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 February 2018
In the 2014 survey, we expanded the survey questionnaire to include a set of sixty triad questions. This method is adopted from cultural anthropological semantic domain analysis, and developed by principal investigator Eric C. Thompson in reference to countries generally and ASEAN countries specifically in earlier research. Triad questions ask respondents to judge similarities and differences among items (in this case, countries). The purpose of the method is to solicit and reveal what criteria respondents are using to make their judgements (i.e. to get at their cultural knowledge or understanding of a domain) rather than have the criteria predetermined by the researcher. Responses to the triad questions are used to produce aggregate similarity matrices, showing the relative similarity and difference amongst all items in the domain, as judged by the sample of respondents. These matrices in turn are subjected to correspondence analysis, through which multidimensional, cognitive maps are produced, giving a visual representation of how students from a particular university or sample as a whole think about the relationship among ASEAN nations.
METHODS AND INTERPRETATION
The “cognitive maps” presented in this report (in full, in Appendix F) provide a visual representation of the relationship among ASEAN countries based on the aggregate judgements of similarity and difference among countries within each university sample. They reflect, in a simplified form, the cultural concepts — the learned, shared knowledge — that students from each university have regarding Southeast Asia.
The maps are derived from questions of similarity and difference presented to the respondents in the form of triad questions. A triad question asks respondents to select the most different item from a set of three items. For example, if respondents are presented with “cow”, “buffalo”, and “rock”, they would almost certainly choose “rock” as different from “cow” and “buffalo”. In a triad exercise, the items are selected from among a specific domain of items — in our case, that domain is ASEAN members and the domain has ten items.