The Comparability of Measurements of Attitudes Toward Immigration in the European Social Survey: Exact Versus Approximate Measurement Equivalence

Public Opinion Quarterly, Forthcoming

44 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2015

See all articles by Eldad Davidov

Eldad Davidov

University of Zurich

Jan Cieciuch

University of Zurich; University of Finance and Management

Bart Meuleman

KU Leuven

Peter Schmidt

University of Giessen; National Research University Higher School of Economics

René Algesheimer

University of Zurich

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

International survey datasets are analyzed with increasing frequency to investigate and compare attitudes toward immigration and to examine the contextual factors that shape these attitudes. However, international comparisons of abstract, psychological constructs require the measurements to be equivalent – i.e., they should measure the same concept on the same measurement scale. Traditional approaches to assessing measurement equivalence quite often lead to the conclusion that measurements are cross-nationally incomparable but have been criticized for being overly strict. In the current study, we present an alternative Bayesian approach that assesses whether measurements are approximately (rather than exactly) equivalent. This approach allows small variations in measurement parameters across groups. Taking a multiple group confirmatory factor analysis framework as a starting point, this study applies approximate and exact equivalence tests to the anti-immigration attitudes scale that was implemented in the European Social Survey (ESS). Measurement equivalence is tested across the full set of 271,220 individuals in 35 ESS countries over six rounds. The results of the exact and the approximate approaches are quite different. Approximate scalar measurement equivalence is established in all ESS rounds, thus allowing researchers to meaningfully compare these mean scores and their relationships with other theoretical constructs of interest. The exact approach, however, eventually proves to be overly strict and leads to the conclusion that measurements are incomparable for a large number of countries and time points.

Keywords: European Social Survey; approximate vs. exact measurement equivalence; attitudes toward immigration; cross-national research

Suggested Citation

Davidov, Eldad and Cieciuch, Jan and Meuleman, Bart and Schmidt, Peter and Algesheimer, René, The Comparability of Measurements of Attitudes Toward Immigration in the European Social Survey: Exact Versus Approximate Measurement Equivalence (2014). Public Opinion Quarterly, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2633595

Eldad Davidov (Contact Author)

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland

Jan Cieciuch

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland

University of Finance and Management ( email )

Pawia 55
Warsaw, 01-030
Poland

Bart Meuleman

KU Leuven ( email )

Oude Markt 13
Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant 3000
Belgium

Peter Schmidt

University of Giessen ( email )

Betriebswirtschaftslehre VII
Giessen, WY 35394
Germany

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

René Algesheimer

University of Zurich ( email )

Department of Business Administration
Andreasstrasse 15
Zurich, 8050
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.market-research.uzh.ch

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