Measurement Quality in Indicators of Compositions. A Compositional Multitrait-Multimethod Approach


  • Germà Coenders University of Girona
  • Valentina Hlebec University of Ljubljana
  • Tina Kogovšek University of Ljubljana



compositional data, ipsative data, multitrait-multimethod, correlated uniqueness model, social networks


Compositional data, also called multiplicative ipsative data, are common in survey research instruments in areas such as time use, budget expenditure and social networks. Compositional data are usually expressed as proportions of a total, whose sum can only be 1. Owing to their constrained nature, statistical analysis in general, and estimation of measurement quality with a confirmatory factor analysis model for multitrait-multimethod (MTMM) designs in particular are challenging tasks. Compositional data are highly non-normal, as they range within the 0-1 interval. One component can only increase if some other(s) decrease, which results in spurious negative correlations among components which cannot be accounted for by the MTMM model parameters. In this article we show how researchers can use the correlated uniqueness model for MTMM designs in order to evaluate measurement quality of compositional indicators. We suggest using the additive log ratio transformation of the data, discuss several approaches to deal with zero components and explain how the interpretation of MTMM designs differs from the application to standard unconstrained data. We show an illustration of the method on data of social network composition expressed in percentages of partner, family, friends and other members in which we conclude that the face-to-face collection mode is generally superior to the telephone mode, although primacy effects are higher in the face-to-face mode. Compositions of strong ties (such as partner) are measured with higher quality than those of weaker ties (such as other network members).




How to Cite

Coenders, G., Hlebec, V., & Kogovšek, T. (2011). Measurement Quality in Indicators of Compositions. A Compositional Multitrait-Multimethod Approach. Survey Research Methods, 5(2), 63–74.




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