Quality & Quantity

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 1507–1523 | Cite as

The changing nature of attitude constructs: an application of multiple correspondence analysis on gender role attitudes

  • Alice BarthEmail author


Attitude change is frequently measured by comparing respondents’ scores on the same instrument at different points in time. However, there is a variety of methodological challenges in measuring attitude change: when respondents’ handling of the questionnaire or their understanding of the items change, the comparability of constructs is threatened. This paper proposes the investigation of systematic methodological variation over time by multiple correspondence analysis. Visualizing respondents’ ‘cognitive maps’ facilitates the exploration of both changes in the underlying structure of attitude constructs—that is, changes in meaning—as well as data quality. The approach is illustrated with the analysis of two item batteries on gender role attitude from the BHPS and the BSA from the beginning of the 1990s to the mid-2000s. Both data sets exhibit similar structural changes - more methodological variation and increasing complexity of the attitude construct. The comparison of latent structures over time provides useful information about the nature of change in social constructs.


Multiple correspondence analysis Attitude change Measurement equivalence Gender role attitude BHPS BSA 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Political Science and Sociology, University of BonnBonnGermany

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