To respond to a question, respondents must make culturally relevant, context- sensitive pragmatic inferences about what the question means. Participants in a culture of modesty (China), a culture of honor (Turkey), and a culture of positivity (U.S.) rated their own (Study 1) or someone else's (their parents or people their parents' age, Study 2) success in life using either a rating scale that implied a continuum from failure to success (-5 to +5) or varying degrees of success (0 to 10). As predicted, culture and rating format interacted with rating target to influence response patterns. Americans, sensitive to the possibility of negativity, rated all targets more positively in the bipolar condition. Chinese were modesty-sensitive, ignoring the implications of the scale, unless rating strangers for whom modesty is irrelevant. Turks were honor-sensitive, rating themselves and their parents more positively in the bipolar scale condition and ignoring scale implications of rating strangers.