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date: 21 July 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Many of the most important constructs in public opinion research are abstract, latent quantities that cannot be directly observed from individual questions on surveys. Examples include ideology, political knowledge, racial prejudice, and consumer confidence. In each of these examples, individual survey questions are merely noisy indicators of the theoretical quantities that scholars are interested in measuring. This chapter describes a number of approaches for measuring latent constructs such as these at both the individual and group levels. It also discusses a number of substantive applications of latent constructs in public opinion research. Finally, it discusses methodological frontiers in the measurement of latent constructs.

Keywords: Public Opinion, Latent variables, Ideology, Representation, Measurement

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