Cross-National Comparability of Survey Attitude Measures

Posted: 30 Sep 2009

See all articles by Anthony Heath

Anthony Heath

University of Oxford - Department of Sociology

Jean Paul Martin

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Thees Spreckelsen

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: Autumn 2009

Abstract

Many international surveys include batteries of questions which are combined to form scales by secondary analysts who often treat these scales as unproblematic. However, to be able to make valid cross-national comparisons of values on scales such as these, we need to be sure that the variations genuinely reflect differences in populations rather than being due to various forms of error. In order to illustrate the kinds of problems that can occur, and to explore ways of dealing with them, we examine items from the 2003 ISSP module on national identity. We show that differences between countries in response rates and other features of survey design are associated with the substantive outcomes and that ignoring these methodological problems will affect the validity of cross-national comparisons. We also examine whether the items can be assumed to have equivalence of meaning across the different countries in terms of their contributions to measuring two dimensions of national identity: civic and ethnic. We conclude that certain items do not seem to have the same meaning in all countries, thus jeopardizing the validity of cross-national comparisons using these scales. We suggest that the methods used and the lessons to be learnt can be applied to other items and cross-national datasets.

Suggested Citation

Heath, Anthony and Martin, Jean Paul and Spreckelsen, Thees, Cross-National Comparability of Survey Attitude Measures (Autumn 2009). International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Vol. 21, Issue 3, pp. 293-315, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1478364 or http://dx.doi.org/edp034

Anthony Heath (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Department of Sociology ( email )

Suite 8
Littlegate House
Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 1PT
United Kingdom

Jean Paul Martin

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Thees Spreckelsen

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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