Political Behavior

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 217–241 | Cite as

Statistical manipulation in the study of issue consistency: The gamma coefficient

  • George I. Balch


Issue consistency involves predicting a person's position on one issue from his or her position on another. Goodman and Kruskal's (1954) coefficient gamma measures the preponderance of concordant pairs among ordered pairs of cases. Its widespread use in the research literature to measure issue consistency is of doubtful value, due to conceptual, descriptive, and inferential properties of gamma. Conceptual problems include that gamma (1) predicts for pairs of persons, not from one attitude to another for the same person; (2) it predicts for a single ordering of variables, even if this is not appropriate; (3) it can be low when issue differences are small; and (4) it underestimates consistency for consensual items. Statistical problems include descriptive and inferential concerns. Gamma is hard to interpret or compare because (1) it underpredicts bidirectional association; (2) it becomes unrepresentative and volatile as ties increase, and (3) it can reach unity in various ways. Relating gamma to a sampling distribution might permit comparison of probability levels for statistical inference. The research literature has not done this. Instead, it has computed “mean gammas” of doubtful descriptive and inferential value.


Statistical Problem Statistical Inference Research Literature Probability Level Sampling Distribution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Agathon Press, Inc 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • George I. Balch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Illinois at Chicago CircleUSA

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