Category Archives: English

Ways to do Latent Class Analysis in R

The best way to do latent class analysis is by using Mplus, or if you are interested in some very specific LCA models you may need Latent Gold. Another decent option is to use PROC LCA in SAS. All the other ways and programs might be frustrating, but are helpful if your purposes happen to coincide with the specific R package.
CRAN offers plenty of different ways to get clusters on your data, but most of these packages have a very narrow and specific utility. For example, I found at least 15 packages involving latent class models, of which only six perform latent class analysis in the form of classification based on indicators, and only two of them allow including nominal indicators, and none allows including ordinal indicators.
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"Church attendance" question in WVS-5

I’ve never noticed that note. As I figure it out, this is an attempt to overcome the widely known differences in church attendance between Muslims and Christians: Muslim women are not required to go to Mosque, whereas Christian women go to Church more frequently than Christian men (what about Buddhists?).
So basically it says that there are two different questions asked in ‘Islamic societies’ and the rest of the world, which are stored in a single variable in WVS dataset.
The use of different indicators for measuring the same construct is justified in the reflective measurement logic in which all the indicators are exchangeable, though I doubt it relates to a single-indicator measures.
I  checked questionnaire translations in “Islamic societies”, as it seemed to me too strange. What I found is  even more surprising. Summing up, the question about praying  only Morocco and Malaysia unambiguously asked about praying (though some troubles with options coding in Malaysia). The rest seven translations were either about attending mosques or ambiguous. Find below the detailed report. Thus, in general, we can quietly ignore The Note, just like the questionnaire translators did.
To be serious –  when using WVS or some other comparative survey data, every single question should be analyzed in (at least) the way I did it below, especially for your key variables and absolutely necessary for your dependent variables. Google is a handy tool, it gives a crude translation but you get a general idea of what’s in the question. You’ll find plenty of interesting surprises.
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Social networks data collection tools

Collecting social networks data with R is highly beneficial since it can update results/graphs/reports on the air.
Here are the basic ones:

All of them are based on the functions provided by httr or RCurl and work mostly using GET and POST web requests dealing directly with a corresponding network’s API. This is not too hard to develop your own tool for your specialized purposes, it will only take some time to get acquainted with specifics of your network’s API (which is usually quite simple). There are tools that  integrate these packages with graphing and network analysis tools, such as SocialMediaLab.

Christian Welzel addresses my criticism

The following is Christian Welzel’s response he kindly provided following the post in which I summarized my criticism of his and Ronald Inglehart’s paper on measurement invariance:

This dismissive portrayal of our contribution does not come as a surprise. Indeed, no one who considers “internal coherence” as the prime criterion of measurement quality can be happy about our article. But that does not make the uncomfortable truth less true: the logic of internal coherence often prompts scholars to disqualify a multi-item construct as invalid, despite the fact that this very construct shows meaningful, important and powerful “external linkages” with its expected correlates. Scholars who advocate internal coherence as the gold standard of measurement quality offer no explanation of why weak internal coherence coexists so easily with strong external linkages. In fact, most of these scholars do not even address this phenomenon. Or they play it down, as if external linkages had nothing to do with a construct’s reality anchorage.

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Is measurement invariance just a nonsense?

The short answer is No.
But Christian Welzel has a different opinion. He and Ronald Inglehart have challenged the very common and largely accepted though sometimes tedious and uncomfortable practice of measurement invariance testing. I do not agree with them but their challenge provokes a lot of thoughts and clarifications in a current paradigm.
Aleman and Woods (2015) were one of the few researchers who attempted to check Self-expression values index for measurement invariance across countries. Earlier, Hermann Dulmer and myself were trying to do more or less the same. I simply didn’t have my MGCFA models converged, there was too much non-invariance.
Christian Welzel and Ronald Inglehart do not think that these tests make any sense. Continue reading

Recent clarifications in age-period-cohort analysis

Update: The recent Bell and Jones’ paper summarizes the debate which occurred to be still on:
Discussion between Reither et al. (Yang and Land among authors) and Bell and Jones
This is a rare case of a long discussion between authors: there were four papers responding to each other by Reither et al. and Bell and Jones. The discussion is very recent, so maybe it hasn’t ended yet.
(Actually, discussion appeared even earlier. It began with seminal Yang and Land’s 2006 paper, where they suggested to model period and cohort effects as a cross-classified structure with age at the individual level. Several responses from Bell and Jones followed, for example their 2014 paper was titled “The impossibility of separating age, period and cohort effects”, in which they clarified why the old task of identifying Age = Period + Cohort equation cannot be solved neither theoretically nor practically.)
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Belief in a Zero-Sum Game by Różycka-Tran, Boski & Wojciszke paper in JCCP, 2015 reviewed

Różycka-Tran, J., Boski, P., & Wojciszke, B. (2015). Belief in a zero-sum game as a social axiom: A 37-nation study. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 1, 24. pdf

A group of Polish psychologists has expanded the list of social axioms with a very intriguing one. They called it “belief in a zero-sum game” which is a belief that if someone gets anything it means someone else has lost it.
The concept of zero-sum game was adopted from game theory, but it’s not very popular in cross-cultural research. This is a very important concept in institutional economics, where the zero-sum game mimics the imperfect institutions that can shape how people behave. In the reviewed paper the authors were interested not in institutional conditions but rather in perceptions of these conditions. This issue matters particularly in relation to cultural barriers of economic development. Potentially, a production of  added value is problematic if no one believes it’s possible.
The previous findings from  Polish samples showed that people who believe that the game has zero-sum, are generally the ones who used to lose. This is a clear tendency of a personality to keep its psychological balance – “I didn’t win, because the others took my win” (not “because I wasn’t able to”).
Using psychology student samples from 37 nations the authors  measured this belief with a battery, including  8 items such as “when somebody gains, others have to lose”, “person wins only when others lose”,  and surprisingly “interests of different people are inconsistent” and “When someone does much for others, he or she loses.”
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Review of Polavieja's "Capturing Culture" ASR paper

update 10.08.2018. I have just discovered that the paper received critical comments which surprisingly do not overlap with mine. The difference is these comments were published in ASR and rejoined by the author.

Capturing Culture: A New Method to Estimate Exogenous Cultural Effects Using Migrant Populations by Javier G. Polavieja // American Sociological Review, February 2015, vol. 80, no. 1, pp. 166-191.

The paper is a bit hard to comprehend, so I spent a long time trying to understand and being very sceptical about it. But finally, I got the general idea and it seems pretty good.
In short, the paper is about how to construct a good instrumental variable for IV regression when you have endogeneity (i.e. – always) and use data from cross-country surveys.  The author suggests using country of migrants’ origin in constructing of the IV for a regression based on migrant samples. The characteristics of native populations are assigned to migrants and this variable is a good IV since it’s completely exogenous to the sample. After instrumenting, a regressor reflects only the variance that is due to differences in migrants’ country of origin.

What I disliked is a specific implementation of the idea.
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Welzel and critics

* all the articles have been published in Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, below are abstratcs

A Comment on the Index of “Self-Expression Values,” by Inglehart and Welzel
Eduard J. Bomhoff and Mary Man-Li Gu

Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel have made two strong claims for the index of “selfexpression
values” introduced in 1997 by Inglehart using responses from the World Values
Survey (WVS): first that these values are getting stronger worldwide and second that this is a
necessary condition for a flourishing democracy. In this research note, we document that the
shift to more emphasis on tolerance, trust, and post-materialism—principal components of
the self-expression index—is indeed visible in many countries, but not in East Asia. Also, the
combination of these components into one index is fine on average, but makes little sense for
the East Asian region. Many East Asians maintain some different attitudes toward work, family,
and social issues that would appear traditional and conservative by today’s Western standard
where such conservative values today are held typically by people who are less trusting and
more suspicious of democracy. By contrast, trust, measured in six different ways, as well as
post-materialism, appears compatible with these conservative work and family values in East
Asia. The claim that self-expression values as defined by Inglehart are a necessary condition for
a healthy democracy makes sense in many parts of the world, but not in East Asia.

The Myth of Asian Exceptionalism: Response to Bomhoff and Gu
Christian Welzel
In a series of contributions, Welzel describes modernization as human empowerment: a process
that emancipates people from external authority. Human empowerment theory (HET) posits
two sequential mechanisms. First, cognitive empowerment through rising levels of education and
knowledge leads to motivational empowerment, manifest in rising emancipative values. Second,
rising emancipative values nurture mass aspirations for liberal democracy, leading to more effective
democratic practices. Using World Values Survey (WVS) data from a dozen Asian societies,
Bomhoff and Gu claim that Asia is different because these mechanisms do not work among
Asian societies. Against these claims, this response shows that Bomhoff and Gu’s results are
inconclusive. Upon proper examination of WVS evidence, their conclusions turn actually into
the opposite: The emancipative logic of HET applies to Asia as much as it applies to the “West.”

East Asian Exceptionalism — Rejoinder
Eduard J. Bomhoff and Man-Li Gu
This short note calls for a more careful examination of value patterns in East Asia, focusing on
the applicability for that region of the Self-expression Index constructed by Welzel (2005). We
show that in East Asia, acceptance of homosexuality, a core component of the index, has a correlation
with the other components that is opposite to what we observe in the rest of the world.
Further analysis indicates that conservative attitudes toward homosexuality in East Asia have no
negative influence on undermining people’s aspirations for democracy. Such an anomaly provides
strong empirical evidence that the Self-Expression Index has limited cross-cultural validity.