Measuring Attitudes toward Immigration in Europe: The Cross-Cultural Validity of the ESS Immigration Scales
European Social Survey
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Citation:Ask: Research and Methods. Volume 21, Issue 1 (2012), pp. 5-29
Equivalence of measurement scales is a crucial prerequisite for making valid cross-cultural comparisons, as cultural differences in the interpretation of indicators could result in misleading conclusions. In this paper, we empirically assess the cross-national measurement equivalence of four scales that are included in the European Social Survey, round 1 (2002–03). These four scales, referring to various aspects of attitudes toward immigration, are: (1) opposition against new immigration into the country (REJECT), (2) support for imposing conditions to immigration (CONDITION), (3) perceived economic threat (ECOTHREAT) and (4) perceived cultural threat (CULTHREAT). To test for measurement equivalence, we make use of multi-group confirmatory factor analysis (MGCFA). In this approach, a distinction is made between configural (equal factor structures), metric (equal factor loadings) and scalar (equal item intercepts) equivalence. A step-by-step strategy to test for these distinctive levels of equivalence is explained in a detailed manner. Our results show that the degree of cross-cultural equivalence differs quite strongly from one scale to another. In the case of the REJECT-scale, the number of violated equality constraints is limited, and partial scalar equivalence is found to hold for all countries. The other measurement scales are cross-culturally less robust, and comparability is only guaranteed for subsets of countries.
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