Structural equivalence and differential item functioning in the Social Axioms Survey

F.J.R. van de Vijver, V.H. Valchev, I. Suanet

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific


The present chapter focuses on the assessment of bias and equivalence of the Social Axioms Survey in a 41-country data set analyzed at the individual level. Two main issues are examined. The first, structural equivalence, addresses the question to what extent the constructs underlying the Social Axioms Survey are universal across the 41 countries. The second, differential item functioning, deals with the question of whether there are particular items or countries that are problematic. Exploratory factor analyses (testing structural equivalence) and analyses of variance (testing item bias) were carried out. The equivalence of the scales was adequate, but neither the exploratory factor analysis nor the analyses of variance provided indisputable support for the equivalence of any scale. The results led to three main conclusions: (1) social axioms show important similarities across cultures; (2) numerical comparisons of scores obtained in different countries must be treated with caution; (3) the observed bias was due to both item and country characteristics. Several items showed secondary (i.e., deviant) loadings in the global factorial solution. Level of economic development and religion (main religious denomination of a country) were associated with bias. In the discussion of our findings, a balanced treatment is recommended to account for both instrument and country characteristics that cause bias.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPsychological aspects of social axioms. Understanding global belief systems
EditorsK. Leung, M.H. Bond
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages348
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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