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Enhancing the Validity and Cross-Cultural Comparability of Measurement in Survey Research

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  • KING, GARY
  • MURRAY, CHRISTOPHER J. L.
  • SALOMON, JOSHUA A.
  • TANDON, AJAY

Abstract

We address two long-standing survey research problems: measuring complicated concepts, such as political freedom and efficacy, that researchers define best with reference to examples; and what to do when respondents interpret identical questions in different ways. Scholars have long addressed these problems with approaches to reduce incomparability, such as writing more concrete questions—with uneven success. Our alternative is to measure directly response category incomparability and to correct for it. We measure incomparability via respondents' assessments, on the same scale as the self-assessments to be corrected, of hypothetical individuals described in short vignettes. Because the actual (but not necessarily reported) levels of the vignettes are invariant over respondents, variability in vignette answers reveals incomparability. Our corrections require either simple recodes or a statistical model designed to save survey administration costs. With analysis, simulations, and cross-national surveys, we show how response incomparability can drastically mislead survey researchers and how our approach can alleviate this problem.

Suggested Citation

  • King, Gary & Murray, Christopher J. L. & Salomon, Joshua A. & Tandon, Ajay, 2003. "Enhancing the Validity and Cross-Cultural Comparability of Measurement in Survey Research," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 567-583, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:97:y:2003:i:04:p:567-583_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Senik, Claudia, 2014. "The French unhappiness puzzle: The cultural dimension of happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 379-401.
    2. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2007. "Happiness, Contentment and Other Emotions for Central Banks," NBER Working Papers 13622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Sheng Wu & Yi Zhang & Zheng-Yun Zhuang, 2018. "A Systematic Initial Study of Civic Scientific Literacy in China: Cross-National Comparable Results from Scientific Cognition to Sustainable Literacy," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(9), pages 1-26, September.
    4. He Chen & Tianguang Meng, 2015. "Bonding, Bridging, and Linking Social Capital and Self-Rated Health among Chinese Adults: Use of the Anchoring Vignettes Technique," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 10(11), pages 1-15, November.
    5. Steven B. Caudill & Franklin G. Mixon, 2005. "Analysing Misleading Discrete Responses: A Logit Model Based on Misclassified Data," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 67(1), pages 105-113, February.

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