Alternative measures of political efficacy: the quest for cross-cultural invariance with ordinally scaled survey items

Scotto, T. J. , Xena, C. and Reifler, J. (2021) Alternative measures of political efficacy: the quest for cross-cultural invariance with ordinally scaled survey items. Frontiers in Political Science, 3, 665532. (doi: 10.3389/fpos.2021.665532)

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In this paper, we examine the measurement of citizens’ beliefs that politicians and political systems are responsive (external efficacy) and that citizens see themselves sufficiently skilled to participate in politics (internal efficacy). This paper demonstrates techniques that allow researchers to establish the cross-context validity of conceptually important ordinal scales. In so doing, we show an alternative set of efficacy indicators to those commonly appearing on cross-national surveys to be more promising from a validity standpoint. Through detailed discussion and application of multi-group analysis for ordinal measures, we demonstrate that a measurement model linking latent internal and external efficacy factors performs well in configural and parameter invariance testing when applied to representative samples of respondents in the United States and Great Britain. With near full invariance achieved, differences in latent variable means are meaningful and British respondents are shown to have lower levels of both forms of efficacy than their American counterparts. We argue that this technique may be particularly valuable for scholars who wish to establish the suitability of ordinal scales for direct comparison across nations or cultures.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The ESRC funded the surveys that generated the data used in the paper and TS’s time on the project. Funding for this project was provided by ESRC Grant #RES-061-25-0405.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Scotto, Professor Thomas
Authors: Scotto, T. J., Xena, C., and Reifler, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Journal Name:Frontiers in Political Science
Publisher:Frontiers Media
ISSN (Online):2673-3145
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Scotto, Xena and Reifler
First Published:First published in Frontiers in Political Science 3: 665532
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5255/UKDA-SN-851142

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