Publications of Bruno Castanho Silva

Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling

Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling serves as a minimally technical overview of multilevel structural equation modeling (MSEM) for applied researchers and advanced graduate students in the social sciences. As the first book of its kind, this title is an accessible, hands-on introduction for beginners of the topic. The authors predict a growth in this area, fueled by both data availability and also the availability of new and improved software to run these models. The applied approach, combined with a graphical presentation style and minimal reliance on complex matrix algebra guarantee that this volume will be useful to social science graduate students wanting to utilize such models.

An Empirical Comparison of Seven Populist Attitudes Scales

With the recent upsurge of populism in developed and transition democracies, researchers have started measuring it as an attitude. Several scales have been proposed for this purpose. However, there is little direct comparison between the available alternatives. Scholars who wish to measure populist attitudes have little information available to help select the best scale for their purposes. In this article, we directly compare seven populist attitudes scales from multiple perspectives: conceptual development, questionnaire design, dimensionality, information, cross-national validity, and external validity. We use original survey data collected online from nine countries in Europe and the Americas, with around 250 participants per country, in which all seven batteries of questions were present. Results show that most scales have important methodological and validity limitations in at least one of the dimensions tested, and should not be used for cross-national comparative research. We recommend populist attitudes items that work better at capturing populism, and more generally provide guidelines for researchers who want to compare different scales that supposedly measure the same construct.

An Empirical Comparison of Seven Populist Attitudes Scales

With the recent upsurge of populism in developed and transition democracies, researchers have started measuring it as an attitude. Several scales have been proposed for this purpose. However, there is little direct comparison between the available alternatives. Scholars who wish to measure populist attitudes have little information available to help select the best scale for their purposes. In this article, we directly compare seven populist attitudes scales from multiple perspectives: conceptual development, questionnaire design, dimensionality, information, cross-national validity, and external validity. We use original survey data collected online from nine countries in Europe and the Americas, with around 250 participants per country, in which all seven batteries of questions were present. Results show that most scales have important methodological and validity limitations in at least one of the dimensions tested, and should not be used for cross-national comparative research. We recommend populist attitudes items that work better at capturing populism, and more generally provide guidelines for researchers who want to compare different scales that supposedly measure the same construct.

Comparative Research is Harder Than We Thought: Regional Differences in Experts’ Understanding of Electoral Integrity Questions

Expert evaluations about countries form the backbone of comparative political research. It is reasonable to assume that such respondents, no matter the region they specialize in, will have a comparable understanding of the phenomena tapped by expert surveys. This is necessary to get results that can be compared across countries, which is the fundamental goal of these measurement activities. We empirically test this assumption using measurement invariance techniques which have not been applied to expert surveys before. Used most often to test the cross-cultural validity and translation effects of public opinion scales, the measurement invariance tests evaluate the comparability of scale items across any groups. We apply them to the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) dataset. Our findings suggest that cross-regional comparability fails for all eleven dimensions identified in PEI. Results indicate which items remain comparable, at least across most regions, and point to the need of more rigorous procedures to develop expert survey questions.

The Elite Is Up to Something: Exploring the Relation Between Populism and Belief in Conspiracy Theories

We explore the relationship between populist attitudes and conspiratorial beliefs on the individual level with two studies using American samples. First, we test whether and what kinds of conspiratorial beliefs predict populist attitudes. Our results show that belief in conspiracies with greedy, but not necessarily purely evil, elites are associated with populism. Second, we test whether having a conspiratorial mentality is associated with all separate sub‐dimensions of populist attitudes – people‐centrism, anti‐elitism, and a good‐versus‐evil view of politics. Results show a relation only with the first two, confirming the common tendency of both discourses to see the masses as victims on elites’ hands. These findings contribute to research on the correlates of populism at the individual level, which is essential to understanding why this phenomenon is so strong in contemporary democracies.

The Elite Is Up to Something: Exploring the Relation Between Populism and Belief in Conspiracy Theories

We explore the relationship between populist attitudes and conspiratorial beliefs on the individual level with two studies using American samples. First, we test whether and what kinds of conspiratorial beliefs predict populist attitudes. Our results show that belief in conspiracies with greedy, but not necessarily purely evil, elites are associated with populism. Second, we test whether having a conspiratorial mentality is associated with all separate sub-dimensions of populist attitudes – people-centrism, anti-elitism, and a good-versus-evil view of politics. Results show a relation only with the first two, confirming the common tendency of both discourses to see the masses as victims on elites’ hands. These findings contribute to research on the correlates of populism at the individual level, which is essential to understanding why this phenomenon is so strong in contemporary democracies.