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Basic issues in measuring gender attitudes. Ko Oudhof Statistics Netherlands. What will I tell you?. Just for a start: your own contribution Subjective indicators What are attitudes Measurement issues Analytic issues Here and there: gender/ international comparability.

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basic issues in measuring gender attitudes

Basic issues in measuring gender attitudes

Ko Oudhof

Statistics Netherlands

what will i tell you
What will I tell you?
  • Just for a start: your own contribution
  • Subjective indicators
  • What are attitudes
  • Measurement issues
  • Analytic issues
  • Here and there: gender/ international comparability
before i tell you anything
Before I tell you anything
  • Think of one short statement on the role of women or men in decision making that according to yourself would make it possible to distinguish respondents into advocates and opponents of gender equality by looking at their (dis)agreement with your statement
introductory vocabulary






One digit, evaluating, goal-related

About seeing, knowing and thinking

About good or bad

About like or dislike

Statement or question

List of items

Introductory vocabulary
policy and role of indicators
Policy and role of indicators
  • Selection policy goals
  • Assessing policy process
  • Evaluate policy results
subjective indicators and policy 1
Subjective indicators and policy-1
  • Selection policy goals
      • what do people (not) want? (Worries, aspirations, satisfactions)
      • what do people need or get rid off? (immaterial needs, happiness)
  • Assessing policy process
      • Public support (trust, support)
      • Assess course of policy (predictions, prognosis)
  • Evaluate policy results
      • Goal attainment (health, inequality, perceived safety, xenophobia)
subjective indicators and policy 2
Subjective indicators and policy-2
  • No ‘objective’ observation?
      • Subjective condition real policy objective
      • Direct measurement
      • Both subjective and objective indicators depart from implicit assumptions on each other in some implicit psychological model on behavior!
  • Vague? Limits to aggregation!
      • Measuring all possible wrongs?
      • Indicators with a large mandate needed
  • Statistical weaknesses
      • No money and no counting
      • Monetary value or size of subjective condition?
      • Specific measure and methodology
      • Experts needed
subjective indicators
Subjective indicators
  • Policy-relevance (issues)
  • Need- or Behavior-related (predictability)
  • Variability (daily fluctuations versus almost invariable states)
    • Now – indicators
    • In these times – indicators
    • Long term perspective - indicators
subjective conditions and the world
Needs and wants








Fysical environment

Social environment

Subjective conditions and the world

Now -response




Now - feedback

attitudes common elements in most definitions
Attitudes (common elements in most definitions)
  • Oriented on object, person, institution or event
  • Evaluative component
  • Cognitive component
  • Affective component
  • Stable condition or construct
  • Intermediary between object stimulus and behavioural response: consistency
relatives with likeness
Relatives with likeness
  • Opinions (now)
      • stability less
      • more cognitive and not always evaluative
      • behavioral relation weaker
  • Values (long term)
      • general and less object-oriented
      • stability higher
      • behavioral relation more indirect
  • Norms (derivative)
      • prescription of behavior
      • stability higher
      • behavioral relation stronger and more direct
      • less cognitive and less affective
relation subjective elements
Relation subjective elements






attitudes and gender policy
Attitudes and gender policy
  • Hardly any NSI
  • Why gender attitudes?
  • Attitude change as objective?
  • Defensive in discussion?
  • Same question elsewhere?
      • Macro-economy: confidence consumers/producers
      • Business world: marketing
      • Politics : voting behavior
      • Health: perceived health
      • Crime: feeling of insecurity
gender attitude research and tools in practice
Gender attitude research and tools in practice
  • Mainly academic or ad hoc research
  • Few international research projects
  • Gender role (labor market or household) main topic
  • Hardly any standardisation
  • Example: attitudes on female decision making
      • Support preferential policies
      • Attitudes among decision makers
      • Acceptance of female management
      • Effects of leadership styles
engendering attitudes

Explaining behavior

Measurement tools




Gender Issues

Engendered concepts

Gender validity

By sex or more*?

By sex or more*?

By sex or more*?

Engendering attitudes

More = differences compared to other non-gendered research as consequence of earlier steps

measurement of attitudes
Measurement of attitudes
  • Explicit measurement

(under consciouscontrol respondent)

      • one item
      • multi-item
    • Implicit measurement

(without conscious control respondent)

      • observation of behavior (non-obtrusive)
      • bodily response
      • response latency

 Academic research and less relevant for statistical offices etc.

quality of measurement reliability
Quality of measurement - reliability
  • equal outcomes of tool when measuring the same?
  • random error
  • inter-items reliability
  • test-retest / split-half
  • interobserver reliability
  • quality measure versus external factors
quality of measurement validity
Quality of measurement - validity
  • Similar results from other tools when measuring the same
  • Systematic error
  • Construct validity
    • convergent validity – what should
    • divergent validity - not what should not
  • Predictive validity
  • Multitrait-multimethod matrix as solid validity-testing design
  • Insight in own attitude/opinion
  • Can they express the attitudes/opnions:
    • personal conditions (e.g. ability)
    • situational conditions (e.g. individual interview?)
  • Plausibility true answering
    • personal conditions (e.g. strategic response)
    • situational conditions (e.g. interviewer interaction)
  • Alternative informants/ assessing documents
  • General considerations on survey design
single item or multi item measurement
Quick  Cheap

all or nothing, also in time-series


sometimes quite high and reliable

how do you assess psychometric properties

Response time  Expensive

Shortening scale generally possible


Scale properties can be assessed

International comparability and standardisation of scales (or subscales)

Single item or multi-item measurement?
multi item variants
Osgood scale

Thurstone scale

Likert scale

Guttman scaling

multi-object measuring

monetary methods (WTP)

General dimensions

Pretested dichotomous scaled items

Addition of multi-point (3-100) items

Scaled statements

Conjunct / dominance/ similarity

Simulated markets/ hedonic price analysis/ contingent valuation (CV) or ranking (CR)

Multi-item variants
likert scale
Likert scale
  • Rather simple
  • List of items expressing positive and negative opinions on attitude object
  • Selection of relevant items by content
  • Choice of answering categories
    • Number
    • meaning of scores
    • middle category
    • don’t know: yes or no
  • Scale rating by summing item values (after recoding)
  • Self-made or standard?
selection of items
Selection of items
  • Relevant for all groups (e.g. young + old)
  • Clear and unequivocal interpretation
  • No multiple question items
  • No double negations
  • No questions but statements (response set)
  • No confirmation bias  pos + neg
  • Time spans: now/these days/whole life
  • Suggestive expression (most people…)
  • Biased or suggestive answering categories
  • Personalised or public statements (Hakim)
more possible interferences
More possible interferences
  • Character of survey (crime or labour?)
  • Interviewer
  • Order of topics in questionnaire
  • Introduction of scale
  • Interference of different topics in one scale
  • Order of items
  • No repeats or redundancy
  • Social desirability  overreporting or underreporting
so you ve got your data
So you’ve got your data
  • Assessing or reassessing quality of scale?
    • Reliability aspects
    • Validity aspects
  • Deciding what to do considering
    • Objectives (employer/ supervisor)
    • Tools (standards?)
    • Methodological explanations
    • Explanation of results
item and scale analysis
Item and scale analysis
  • Assessing reliability of scale as given
    • Depending on design
    • Without any validity analysis of scale
  • (re)assessing items + scale(s)
    • linearity and other assumptions?
    • multidimensional?
    • dropping items possible?
    • selection of techniques to assess scale
      • Consistency/ homogeneity items
      • Analysis content via Princ.Comp./ factoran./ scaling
scale ratings
Scale ratings
  • Which ratings should be used?
    • sum
    • weighted sum (only part of items needed?)
    • factor scores
  • To be used for what?
    • is level relevant? (breakdowns or time series)
    • is level confusing? (comparability)
    • nature of audience (general public or scientists)
gender international
Gender & international
  • Which issue or topic?
  • Which concept?
  • Which measurement tool?
  • Main problem for both: validity
    • reduction or prevention of systematic error
  • Analysis: extra = validity analysis
  • Interpretation = plus restraint by validity
  • Presentation = including reserves by limited validity?
more to learn
More to learn
  • In hand-out suggestions for further reading
  • Standard handbooks for students social psychology
  • Look on the internet by using searching machines: attitude, gender, survey (e.g. Ajzen)
  • Search for sites on international surveys (e.g. European Social Survey) and research databases
evaluating both scales
Evaluating both scales
  • Gender dimension
  • Inter-item consistency? Homogeneity?
  • Valid multidimensionality?
  • Quality of separate items?
  • Scale quality
  • Etc.