Testing the Measurement Invariance of Political Trust across the Globe. A Multiple Group Confirmatory Factor Analysis

Wiebke Breustedt


Today, comparative social scientists have ample survey data to test the generalizability of theories related to political trust. Unless its measurement invariance has been established, they run the risk of drawing invalid conclusions though. Based on different sets of items and dimensional models, previous studies have yielded diverging results regarding the measurement invariance of political trust in Europe and former Soviet countries. Using a set of six items and contrasting three competing dimensional models, this study tests the measurement invariance of political trust across the globe in 32 electoral and
liberal democracies. It uses multiple group confirmatory factor analysis and draws on data from the World Values Survey (wave 6, 2010-2014). Configural invariance of a revised two-dimensional model of trust in implementing and representative political institutions was established in 19 democracies when excluding trust in civil service. Full invariance of this model was established in three post-communist countries in eastern and southeastern Europe. The results corroborate that the measurement invariance of political trust must not
be assumed. Conceptually, they provide reason to infer that, by and large, people in democracies have a two-dimensional construct of political trust. Methodologically, they manifest that trust in civil service is an ambiguous item, which is not as meaningfully related to theconstruct of political trust as other items.


measurement equivalence, measurement invariance, multiple group confirmatory factor analysis, political trust, trust in political institutions

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12758/mda.2017.06


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