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A Mixture Model for Middle Category Inflation in Ordered Survey Responses

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 January 2017

Benjamin E. Bagozzi
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802
Bumba Mukherjee
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802. e-mail: sxm73@psu.edu
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Recent research finds that, for social desirability reasons, uninformed individuals disproportionately give “neither agree nor disagree” type responses to survey attitude questions, even when a “do not know” option is available. Such “face-saving” responses inflate the indifference (i.e., middle) categories of ordered attitude variables with nonordered responses. When such inflation occurs within the middle category of one's ordered dependent variable, estimates from ordered probit (and ordered logit) models are likely to be unreliable and inefficient. This article develops a set of mixture models that estimate and account for the presence of “face-saving” responses in middle categories of ordered survey response variables, and applies these models to (1) simulated data and (2) a commonly studied survey question measuring attitudes toward European Union (EU) membership among individuals in EU-candidate countries. Results from the survey data set and the Monte Carlo experiments suggest that, when middle category inflation is present in one's ordered dependent variable, the estimates obtained from middle category mixture models are less biased than—and in some cases substantively distinct from—the estimates obtained from “naive” ordered probit models.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Political Methodology 

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Footnotes

Authors' note: An earlier version of this article was presented as a poster at the 2011 Political Methodology Meeting. The authors wish to acknowledge the valuable suggestions that they received from the editor and reviewers of Political Analysis, Chris Zorn, Phil Schrodt, Will H. Moore, Daniel W. Hill, Eric Plutzer, John Freeman, Robert J. Franzese Jr., and the 2011 Political Methodology meeting attendees. This work was supported by the Pennsylvania State University's College of Liberal Arts under the Forrest Crawford Graduate Scholarship. Replication materials can be found at Bagozzi and Mukherjee (2012). Supplementary Materials for this article are available on the Political Analysis Web site.

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Supplementary material: File

Bagozzi and Mukherjee supplementary material

Appendix

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Supplementary material: PDF

Bagozzi and Mukherjee supplementary material

Appendix

Download Bagozzi and Mukherjee supplementary material(PDF)
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