Accentuating the negative? a political efficacy question-wording- experiment

Harold D. Clarke, Allan Kornberg, Thomas J. Scotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Survey research on political efficacy is longstanding. In a number of countries efficacy has been measured using batteries of negatively worded "agree-disagree" statements. In this paper, we investigate the measurement properties of the Canadian variant of this traditional battery and compare its performance with an alternative, positively worded, battery. The research is based on data gathered by a random half-sample experiment administered in the 2004 Political Support in Canada national panel survey. Analyses of these data provide no evidence that negatively framing the statements designed to tap political efficacy is problematic. Rather, it appears that students of political efficacy would have been worse off if they had spent the past several decades conducting analyses employing positively worded variants of the traditional statements. Perhaps most important, scholars have not been misled by acquiescence bias depressing efficacious responses to the traditional battery. These experimental results indicate that widespread political inefficacy in contemporary democracies is a fact, not an artifact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-117
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • confirmatory factor analysis
  • national panel survey
  • political efficacy

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