Cologne, Germany

Comparative Social Research with Multi-Group SEM

when 27 February 2023 - 3 March 2023
language English
duration 1 week
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 500

Determining whether people in certain countries, or at different time points score differently in measurements of interest, or whether constructs relate differently to each other across nations can indisputably assist in testing social sciences theories and advancing our knowledge. However, meaningful comparisons require equivalent measurements of these constructs. This is especially true for subjective attributes such as values, attitudes, perceptions, or opinions. In this course, we first discuss the meaning of cross-group measurement equivalence, look at possible sources of nonequivalence, and suggest ways to prevent it. Next, we examine the social science methodological literature for ways to empirically test for full or partial measurement equivalence using multiple group confirmatory factor analysis (MGCFA). In addition, we discuss how to test equivalence of regression coefficients and/or latent means and variances using MGCFA and multiple group structural equation modeling (MGSEM). We present such tests using the software environment R (e.g., lavaan). Furthermore, we consider what may be done when exact and partial equivalence is not supported by the data. We discuss strategies based on the less strict assumption of approximate equivalence, such as alignment optimization and the Bayesian estimation procedure. These methods offer exciting directions and solutions for future research in cross-group measurement equivalence assessment when exact equivalence is not supported by the data. Finally, we will address the analysis of categorical data. During the exercises, participants will have the opportunity to conduct these tests using data on human values from the European Social Survey, and if time allows data on biodiversity and intentions to behave in an environmentally friendly way with a reasoned action approach. We also encourage participants to bring their own data and apply the methods discussed in the course to their data.

Course leader

PD Dr. Daniel Seddig, University of Cologne, Germany.
Prof. Dr. Eldad Davidov, University of Cologne, Germany.
Prof. em. Dr. Peter Schmidt, University of Giessen, Germany.
Yannick Diehl, University of Marburg, Germany.

Target group

Participants will find the course useful if they (intend to):

- work with survey data;
- compare groups (e.g., nations, cultures, but also within-country-groups like gender, age or education groups and even time points);
- examine differences in means across groups;
- examine differences in associations (regression coefficients, covariances) across group.
In sum, participants may find the course relevant if they are interested in conducting meaningful comparative research across countries, over time or across other social groups such as natives and immigrants; and if they are interested in understanding potential problems in comparative research, and in studying and applying the methodological prerequisites for meaningful comparisons across groups.

Course aim

By the end of the course participants will:

- know how to test for measurement invariance across groups using various types of multigroup confirmatory factor analyses with the R software (lavaan);
- be able to interpret the output (from lavaan in R) correctly;
- have gained practical experience in testing for exact, partial, approximate measurement invariance and computing latent means for different groups (e.g., countries and time-points);
- know how to deal with non-invariant measurements.

Credits info

3 EC
Optional bookings:

3 ECTS credit points via the University of Cologne for enrolled PhD students (with proof of status) per Spring Seminar course for active participation (20 EUR administration fee).

Fee info

EUR 500: Student/PhD student rate
The rate includes the tuition fee, course materials, and coffee/tea breaks.
EUR 750: Academic/non-profit rate
The rate includes the tuition fee, course materials, and coffee/tea breaks.


None available