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 Dataset

Supplementary materials

Sokolov supplementary material
Sokolov supplementary material 1

 PDF (1.8 MB)
1.8 MB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed