Social Indicators Research

, Volume 123, Issue 3, pp 799–816 | Cite as

Measuring Participation: Development and Validation the Participatory Behaviors Scale

  • Cosimo TalòEmail author
  • Terri Mannarini


Studies of political and civic engagement have revealed that different types of participatory behaviors exist. Relying on Ekman and Amnå’s (Human Aff 22(3):283–300, 2012) participation typology, we developed a new measure, the Participatory Behaviors Scale (PBS), to analyze four dimensions of participation: formal political participation, activism, civil participation and disengagement. As proposed by Ekman and Amnå, disengagement is a genuine and active style of participation. A study was conducted on a sample of community residents (N = 566) to examine the statistical validity and psychometric properties of the PBS. Confirmatory factor analyses showed that the second-order factor structure of PBS (composed of four first-order factors, i.e., disengagement, civil participation, formal political participation and activism) produced the most satisfactory fit indexes. The reliability and validity of the scale were verified. The scale was then tested on a second sample of voters. The methodological and theoretical implications are discussed, and further developments are outlined.


Political participation Civic engagement Participation scale Reliability and validity analyses 


  1. Adler, R., & Goggin, J. (2005). What do we mean by “civic engagement’’? Journal of Transformative Education, 3(3), 236–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amnå, E. (2010). Scandinavian Democracy Learning Diversity: From Socialisation between Lutherans to Training of Imams. In K. Sporre (Ed.), Values, religions and education in changing societies. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, M. (2009). Beyond membership: A sense of community and political behavior. Political Behavior, 31(4), 603–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnes, S., & Kaase, M. (Eds.). (1979). Political action: Mass participation in five western societies. California: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Bentler, P. M. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107(2), 238–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berger, B. (2009). Political theory, political science, and the end of civic engagement. Perspectives on Politics, 7(2), 335–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bowen, G. L., Martin, J. A., Mancini, J. A., & Nelson, J. P. (2000). Community capacity: Antecedents and consequences. Journal of Community Practice, 8(2), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brady, H. (1999). Political Participation. In J. P. Robinson, P. R. Shaver, & L. S. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measures of political attitudes (pp. 737–801). San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Brady, H. E., Verba, S., & Schlozman, K. L. (1995). Beyond SES: A resource model of political participation. American Political Science Review, 89(2), 271–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cicognani, E., Zani, B., Fournier, B., Gavray, C., & Born, M. (2012). Gender differences in youths’ political engagement and participation. The role of parents and of adolescents’ social and civic participation. Journal of Adolescence, 35(3), 561–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Conway, J. M., & Huffcutt, A. I. (2003). A review and evaluation of exploratory factor analysis practices in organizational research. Organizational Research Methods, 6(2), 147–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dahl, R. A. (1963). Modern political analysis. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  13. Davidson, W. B., & Cotter, P. R. (1986). Sense of community and political participation. Journal of Community Psychology, 17, 119–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Diller, E. C. (2001). Citizens in service: The challenge of delivering civic engagement training to national service programs. Washington, DC: Corporation for National and Community Service.Google Scholar
  15. Ekman, J., & Amnå, E. (2009). Political participation and civic engagement: Towards a new typology. Youth, & Society (YeS) Working Paper 2009.Google Scholar
  16. Ekman, J., & Amnå, E. (2012). Political participation and civic engagement: Towards a new typology. Human Affairs., 22(3), 283–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fabrigar, L. R., Wegener, D. T., MacCallum, R. C., & Strahan, E. J. (1999). Evaluating the use of exploratory factor analysis in psychological research. Psychological Methods, 4, 272–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18(1), 39–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Guest, D., Conway, N., & Davey, L. (2002). A longitudinal study of the relationship between career management and organizational commitment among graduates in the first ten years at work. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 731–748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., & Anderson, R. E. (2010). Multivariate data analysis (7th ed.). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  21. Held, D. (1996). Models of democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  22. Heller, K., Price, R. H., Reinhartz, S., Riger, S., Wandersman, A., & D’Aunno, T. A. (1984). Psychology and community change: Challenges of the future. Monterey: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  23. Hirschman, A. O. (1982). Shifting involvements: Private interest and public action. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hollister, R. (2002). Lives of active citizenship. Inaugural talk: John DiBiaggio Chair in Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University.Google Scholar
  25. Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6(1), 1–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jöreskog, K. G., & Sörbom, D. (1988). PRELIS a program for multivariate data screening and data summarization. A preprocessor for LISREL. Mooresville: Scientific Software Inc.Google Scholar
  27. Kaase, M., & Marsh, A. (1979). Political action A theoretical perspective. In S. Barnes & M. Kaase (Eds.), Political action: Mass participation in five western democracies (pp. 27–56). London & Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Keeter, S., Zukin, C., Andolina, M., & Jenkins, M. (2002). The civic and political health of the nation: A generational portrait. College Park, MD: Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) School of Public Policy University of Maryland.Google Scholar
  29. Lee, H. B., & Comrey, A. L. (1979). Distortions in a commonly used factor analytic procedure. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 14, 301–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Liu, A. Q., & Besser, T. (2003). Social capital and participation in community improvement activities by elderly residents in small towns and rural communities. Rural Sociology, 68(3), 343–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. MacCallum, R. C., Browne, M. W., & Sugawara, H. M. (1996). Power analysis and determination of sample size for covariance structure modeling. Psychological Methods, 1, 130–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mannarini, T., Talò, C., Gelli, B.R. (2014) Sense of community, empowerment and social action. An analysis across political orientations. Psicologìa Polìtica, 48, 7–24.Google Scholar
  33. Marsh, H. W., Hau, K. T., & Wen, Z. (2004). In search of golden rules: Comment on hypothesis testing approaches to setting cutoff values for fit indexes and dangers in overgeneralising Hu & Bentler’s (1999) findings. Structural Equation Modelling, 11, 320–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Martín, I., & van Deth, J. W. (2007). Political Involvement. In J. W. van Deth, J. R. Montero, & A. Westholm (Eds.), Citizenship and involvement in European democracies: A comparative analysis (pp. 303–333). London & New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. McMillan, D., & Chavis, D. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community Psychology, 14, 6–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Muthén, L., & Muthén, B. (1998). Mplus user’s guide. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  37. Nie, N. H., & Verba, S. (1975). Political Participation. In F. Greenstein & N. W. Polsby (Eds.), Handbook of political science (Vol. IV). Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  38. Parry, G., Moyser, G., & Day, N. (1992). Political participation and democracy in britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pateman, C. (1970). Participation and democratic theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pedhazur, E. J. (1997). Multiple regression in behavioral research (3rd ed.). Orlando: Harcourt Brace.Google Scholar
  41. Peterson, N. A., Speer, P. W., & Hughey, J. (2006). Measuring sense of community: A methodological interpretation of the factor structure debate. Journal of Community Psychology, 34(4), 453–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Peterson, N. A., Speer, P. W., & McMillan, D. W. (2008). Validation of a brief sense of community scale: Confirmation of the principal theory of sense of community. Journal of Community Psychology, 36(1), 61–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Prezza, M., Pacilli, M. G., Barbaranelli, C., & Zampatti, E. (2009). The MTSOCS: A multidimensional sense of community scale for local communities. Journal of Community Psychology, 37(3), 305–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rapley, M., & Beyer, S. (1996). Daily life, community participation and quality of life in an ordinary housing network. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 9, 31–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rollero, C., Tartaglia, S., De Piccoli, N., & Ceccarini, L. (2009). Sociopolitical control and sense of community. A study on political participation. Psicologìa Polìtica, 39, 7–18.Google Scholar
  46. Ronan B. (2004). Testimony at the white house conference on aging public forum on civic engagement in an older America, Phoenix, Arizona, 25 February 2004.Google Scholar
  47. Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 25, pp. 1–65). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  48. Schwartz, S. H., Caprara, G. V., & Vecchione, M. (2010). Basic personal values, core political values, and voting: A longitudinal study. Political Psychology, 31, 421–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Stern, P. C., Dietz, T., & Guagnano, G. A. (1998). A brief inventory of values. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 58, 984–1001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Talò, C., Mannarini, T., Rochira, A. (2014). Sense of community and community participation: A meta-analyticreview. Social Indicator Research, 117, 1, 1–28.Google Scholar
  51. Teorell, J., Torcal, M., & Montero, J. R. (2007). Political Participation: Mapping the Terrain. In J. W. van Deth, J. R. Montero, & A. Westholm (Eds.), Citizenship and involvement in European democracies: A comparative analysis (pp. 334–357). London & New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  52. Triandis, H. C., & Gelfand, M. J. (1998). Converging measurement of horizontal and vertical individualism and collectivism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(1), 118–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. van Deth, J. W. (2001). Studying political participation: Towards a theory of everything? Paper presented at the joint sessions of workshops of the European consortium for political research, Grenoble, 6–11 April 2001.Google Scholar
  54. Verba, S., & Nie, N. H. (1972). Participation in America: Political democracy and social equality. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  55. Verba, S., Schlozman, K. L., & Brady, H. (1995). Voice and equality: Civic voluntarism in American politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Weber, E. U., Shafir, S., & Blais, A. R. (2004). Predicting risk sensitivity in humans and lower animals: Risk as variance or coefficient of variation. Psychological Review, 111, 430–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Yeich, S., & Levine, R. (1994). Political efficacy: Enhancing the construct and its relationship to mobilization of people. Journal of Community Psychology, 22, 259–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History, Society and Human StudiesUniversity of SalentoLecceItaly

Personalised recommendations