Measuring Citizen Preferences in an Globalised World

This report discusses some of the methodological challenges that scholars face in cross-national survey research. Multi-country research, as a complex phenomenon, adds some additional layers to public opinion and electoral research projects.

To ensure that the cross-national variations observed result from true variation between countries and their different institutional arrangements, researchers have to ensure the measurement quality of their instruments by controlling for possible measurement errors. Measurement error in comparative cross-national/cross-cultural research may occur due to a variety of problems regarding design and sampling, the questionnaire design and the operationalisation of theoretical concepts, modes of questionnaire translation and survey administration.

Most statistical techniques that have been developed to test for the quality of measurement (reliability, validity, equivalence) in survey-based research are usually applied a posteriori.

To a great extent, cross-cultural comparability can be secured by targeted international cooperation in the developmental phase of the survey (multiple translation verification, extensive pre-testing phase, following strict rules for survey administration in all national (cultural) contexts etc.).

However, cross-national (cross-cultural) equivalence may only be achieved when the indicators applied also reflect the systemic level of the countries concerned. The legal environments and political traditions (in terms of democratic practices, institutional variations, and socio-demographic differences) may vary significantly between countries. 

Thus, by discussing three different examples with a multi-country or at least international dimension, the report will highlight the theoretical, analytical and cultural complexity of conducting empirical research projects. The underlying motive is of course the fact that research needs to ensure comparability and equivalence in cross-national and cross-cultural survey research.

Download the full report: WP04_Steve Schwarzer_ER Final Report (PDF 620KB)

Further details of workpackage 4.

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