Skip to main content

The Index of Emancipative Values: Measurement Model Misspecifications


This article reports evidence of misspecification of the measurement model for the index of emancipative values, a value construct used as a key explanatory variable in many important contributions to political science. It shows that the scale on which the index is measured is noninvariant across cultural zones and countries in the World Values Survey. In addition, it demonstrates that the current index composition mixes different value dimensions and their actual associations with various political outcomes, in particular the index of effective democracy. However, an analysis using a novel approximate Bayesian approach shows that at least one specific subdimension of emancipative values, known as pro-choice values, truly exists and may be validly measured and compared cross-nationally. The article also contributes to the recent discussion on whether emancipative values are a reflective or a formative construct by providing thought experiments and empirical evidence supporting the former interpretation.

Corresponding author
Boris Sokolov is a Research Fellow at the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research and an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, St. Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National Research University Higher School of Economics, 55 Sedova Street, 190068 St. Petersburg, Russian Federation (
Hide All

I thank Christian Welzel, Eduard Ponarin, Peter Schmidt, Maksim Rudnev, and Yegor Lazarev, as well as the members of the research seminar at the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, Higher School of Economics, for comments on earlier drafts and fruitful discussions. I am also very grateful to the editor, Kenneth Benoit, and four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. Finally, I thank Alexei Stephenson for proofreading the manuscript. The study was prepared within the framework of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) and supported within the framework of a subsidy by the Russian Academic Excellence Project ‘5-100’.

Hide All
Abramson Paul, and Inglehart Ronald. 1995. Value Change in Global Perspective. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Adcock Robert, and Collier David. 2001. “Measurement Validity: A Shared Standard for Qualitative and Quantitative Research.” American Political Science Review 95 (3): 529–46.
Alemán José, and Woods Dwayne. 2016. “Value Orientations from the World Values Survey: How Comparable Are They Cross-Nationally?Comparative Political Studies 49 (8): 1039–67.
Alexander Amy, Inglehart Ronald, and Welzel Christian. 2012. “Measuring Effective Democracy: A Defense.” International Political Science Review 33 (1): 4162.
Alexander Amy, Inglehart Ronald, and Welzel Christian. 2016. “Emancipating Sexuality: Breakthroughs into a Bulwark of Tradition.” Social Indicators Research 129 (2): 909–35.
Alexander Amy, and Welzel Christian. 2011. “Empowering Women: The Role of Emancipative Beliefs.” European Sociological Review 27 (3): 364–84.
Alwin Duane. 2007. Margins of Error: A Study of Reliability in Survey Measurement. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Andersen Robert, and Fetner Tina. 2008. “Economic Inequality and Intolerance: Attitudes toward Homosexuality in 35 Democracies.” American Journal of Political Science 52 (4): 942–58.
Bergh Johannes. 2007. “Gender Attitudes and Modernization Processes.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research 19 (1): 523.
Brown Timothy. 2015. Confirmatory Factor Analysis for Applied Research. London, UK: Guilford Press.
Cieciuch Jan, Davidov Eldad, Algesheimer Rene, and Schmidt Peter. 2017. “Testing for Approximate Measurement Invariance of Human Values in the European Social Survey.” Sociological Methods & Research. Published online ahead of print April 10, 2017.
Coltman Tim, Devinney Timothy, Midgley David, and Venaik Sunil. 2008. “Formative versus Reflective Measurement Models: Two Applications of Formative Measurement.” Journal of Business Research 61 (12): 1250–62.
Davidov Eldad. 2008. “A Cross-Country and Cross-Time Comparison of the Human Values Measurements with the Second Round of the European Social Survey.” Survey Research Methods 2 (1): 3346.
Davidov Eldad, Meuleman Bart, Cieciuch Jan, Schmidt Peter, and Billiet Jaak. 2014. “Measurement Equivalence in Cross-National Research.” Annual Review of Sociology 40: 5575.
Davis Darren W., Dowley Kathleen M., and Silver Brian D.. 1999. “Postmaterialism in World Societies: Is It Really a Value Dimension?American Journal of Political Science 43 (3): 935–62.
Diamantopoulos Adamantios, and Papadopoulos Nicolas. 2010. “Assessing the Cross-National Invariance of Formative Measures: Guidelines for International Business Researchers.” Journal of International Business Studies 41 (2): 360–70.
He Jia, and van de Vijver Fons. 2015. “Effects of a General Response Style on Cross-Cultural Comparisons Evidence from the Teaching and Learning International Survey.” Public Opinion Quarterly 79 (S1): 267–90.
Hoijtink Herbert, and van de Schoot Rens. 2017. “Testing Small Variance Priors Using Prior-Posterior Predictive P-Values”. Psychological Methods. Published online ahead of print April 3, 2017.
Inglehart Ronald. 1971. “The Silent Revolution in Europe: Intergenerational Change in Post-Industrial Societies.” American Political Science Review 65 (4): 9911017.
Inglehart Ronald. 1977. The Silent Revolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Inglehart Ronald. 1990. Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Inglehart Ronald. 1997. Modernization and Postmodernization: Cultural, Economic, and Political Change in 43 Societies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Inglehart Ronald, and Appel David. 1989. “The Rise of Postmaterialist Values and Changing Religious Orientations, Gender Roles and Sexual Norms.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research 1 (1): 4575.
Inglehart Ronald, and Baker Wayne. 2000. “Modernization, Cultural Change and the Persistence of Traditional Values.” American Sociological Review 65 (1): 1951.
Inglehart Ronald, and Norris Pippa. 2003. Rising Tide: Gender Equality and Cultural Change Around the World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Inglehart Ronald, and Norris Pippa. 2004. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Inglehart Ronald F., Ponarin Eduard, and Inglehart Ronald C.. 2017. “Cultural Change, Slow and Fast: The Distinctive Trajectory of Norms Governing Gender Equality and Sexual Orientation.” Social Forces 95 (4): 1313–40.
Inglehart Ronald, Puranen Bi, and Welzel Christian. 2015. “Declining Willingness to Fight for One's Country: The Individual-Level Basis of the Long Peace.” Journal of Peace Research 52 (4): 418–34.
Inglehart Ronald, and Welzel Christian. 2003. “Political Culture and Democracy: Analyzing Cross-Level Linkages.” Comparative Politics 36 (1): 6179.
Inglehart Ronald, and Welzel Christian. 2005. Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Inglehart Ronald, and Welzel Christian. 2010. “Changing Mass Priorities: The Link between Modernization and Democracy.” Perspectives on Politics 8 (2): 551–67.
Ippel Lianne, Gelissen John, and Moors Guy. 2014. “Investigating Longitudinal and Cross Cultural Measurement Invariance of Inglehart's Short Post-Materialism Scale.” Social Indicators Research 115 (3): 919–32.
Jarvis Cheryl Burke, MacKenzie Scott, and Podsakoff Philip. 2003. “A Critical Review of Construct Indicators and Measurement Model Misspecification in Marketing and Consumer Research.” Journal of Consumer Research 30 (2): 199218.
Law Kenneth, Wong Chi-Sum, and Mobley William. 1998. “Toward a Taxonomy of Multidimensional Constructs.” Academy of Management Review 23 (4): 741–55.
MacIntosh Randall. 1998. “Global Attitude Measurement: An Assessment of the World Values Survey Postmaterialism Scale.” American Sociological Review 63 (3): 452–64.
Muthén Bengt, and Asparouhov Tihomir. 2013. “BSEM Measurement Invariance Analysis.” Mplus Web Notes 17.
Oberski Daniel. 2014. “Evaluating Sensitivity of Parameters of Interest to Measurement Invariance in Latent Variable Models.” Political Analysis 22 (1): 4560.
Przeworski Adam, and Teune Henry. 1966. “Equivalence in Cross-National Research.” Public Opinion Quarterly 30 (4): 551–68.
Rushton Philippe, Brainerd Charles, and Pressley Michael. 1983. “Behavioral Development and Construct Validity: The Principle of Aggregation.” Psychological Bulletin 94 (1): 1838.
Sacchi Stefan. 1998. “The Dimensionality of Postmaterialism: An Application of Factor Analysis to Ranked Preference Data.” European Sociological Review 14 (2): 151–75.
Schwartz Shalom. 1992. “Universals in the Content and Structure of Values: Theoretical Advances and Empirical Tests in 20 Countries.” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 25: 165.
Seligson Mitchell. 2002. “The Renaissance of Political Culture or the Renaissance of the Ecological Fallacy?Comparative Politics 34 (3): 273–92.
Sijtsma Klaas. 2009. “On the Use, the Misuse, and the Very Limited Usefulness of Cronbach's Alpha.” Psychometrika 74 (1): 107–20.
Steenkamp Jan-Benedict, and Baumgartner Hans. 1998. “Assessing Measurement Invariance in Cross-National Consumer Research.” Journal of Consumer Research 25 (1): 78107.
Stegmueller Daniel. 2011. “Apples and Oranges? The Problem of Equivalence in Comparative Research.” Political Analysis 19 (4): 471–87.
Tavakol Mohsen, and Dennick Reg. 2011. “Making Sense of Cronbach's Alpha.” International Journal of Medical Education 2: 53–5.
Van De Schoot Rens, Kluytmans Anouck, Tummers Lars, Lugtig Peter, Hox Joop, and Muthén Bengt. 2013. “Facing off with Scylla and Charybdis: a Comparison of Scalar, Partial, and the Novel Possibility of Approximate Measurement Invariance.” Frontiers in psychology 4, 770.
Van Vlimmeren Eva, Moors Guy, and Gelissen John. 2017. “Clusters of Cultures: Diversity in Meaning of Family Value and Gender Role Items cross Europe.” Quality & Quantity 51 (6): 2737–60.
Welzel Christian. 2006. “Democratization as an Emancipative Process: The Neglected Role of Mass Motivations.” European Journal of Political Research 45 (6): 871–96.
Welzel Christian. 2007. “Are Levels of Democracy Affected by Mass Attitudes? Testing Attainment and Sustainment Effects on Democracy.” International Political Science Review 28 (4): 397424.
Welzel Christian. 2010. “How Selfish are Self-Expression Values? A Civicness Test.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 41 (2): 152–74.
Welzel Christian. 2013. Freedom Rising. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Welzel Christian, and Deutsch Franziska. 2012. “Emancipative Values and non-Violent Protest: The Importance of ‘Ecological’ Effects.” British Journal of Political Science 42 (2): 465–79.
Welzel Christian, and Inglehart Ronald. 2006. “Emancipative Values and Democracy: Response to Hadenius and Teorell.” Studies in Comparative International Development 41 (3): 7494.
Welzel Christian, and Inglehart Ronald. 2016. “Misconceptions of Measurement Equivalence Time for a Paradigm Shift.” Comparative Political Studies 49 (8): 1068–94.
Welzel Christian, Inglehart Ronald, and Klingemann Hans-Dieter. 2003. “The Theory of Human Development: A Cross-Cultural Analysis.” European Journal of Political Research 42 (3): 341–80.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Sokolov supplementary material
Sokolov supplementary material 1

 PDF (1.8 MB)
1.8 MB
Supplementary materials

Sokolov Dataset



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 24
Total number of PDF views: 122 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1313 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 30th January 2018 - 19th February 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.