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date: 24 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Although group consciousness is an important concept in explaining political behavior, both theoretical guidance on how to measure group consciousness and empirical consensus regarding its operationalization are lacking. This has the potential to lead to both diverging results and inaccurate empirical conclusions, which greatly limits the ability to understand the role that group consciousness plays in politics. Using data from Pew’s 2013 “Survey of LGBT Americans,” this analysis provides a foundation for measuring group consciousness using item response theory (IRT). Through an examination of dimensionality, monotonicity, model fit, and differential item functioning, the results demonstrate that many assumptions about measuring group consciousness have been incorrect. Further, the findings suggest that previous conclusions about subgroup differences may be the result of survey bias, rather than actual between-group differences. Moving forward, scholars of political behavior should use IRT to measure latent constructs.

Keywords: group consciousness, political behavior, politics, survey bias, between-group differences, inaccurate empirical conclusions

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