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The moderator effect that wasn't there: Statistical problems in ambivalence research


Ullrich, Johannes; Schermelleh-Engel, K; Böttcher, B (2008). The moderator effect that wasn't there: Statistical problems in ambivalence research. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(4):774-794.

Abstract

Ambivalence researchers often collapse separate measures of positivity and negativity into a single numerical index of ambivalence and refer to it as objective, operative, or potential ambivalence. The authors argue that this univariate approach to ambivalence models undermines the validity of subsequent statistical analyses because it confounds the effects of the index and its components. To remedy this situation, they demonstrate how the assumptions underlying the indices derived from the conflicting reactions model and similarity-intensity model can be tested using a multivariate approach to ambivalence models. On the basis of computer simulations and reanalyses of published moderator effects, the authors show that the frequently reported moderating influence of ambivalence on attitude effects may be a statistical artifact resulting from unmodeled correlations of positivity and negativity with attitude and the dependent variable. On the basis of extensive power analyses, they conclude that it may be extremely difficult to detect moderator effects of ambivalence in observational data. Therefore, they encourage ambivalence researchers to take an experimental approach to study design and a multivariate approach to data analysis.

Abstract

Ambivalence researchers often collapse separate measures of positivity and negativity into a single numerical index of ambivalence and refer to it as objective, operative, or potential ambivalence. The authors argue that this univariate approach to ambivalence models undermines the validity of subsequent statistical analyses because it confounds the effects of the index and its components. To remedy this situation, they demonstrate how the assumptions underlying the indices derived from the conflicting reactions model and similarity-intensity model can be tested using a multivariate approach to ambivalence models. On the basis of computer simulations and reanalyses of published moderator effects, the authors show that the frequently reported moderating influence of ambivalence on attitude effects may be a statistical artifact resulting from unmodeled correlations of positivity and negativity with attitude and the dependent variable. On the basis of extensive power analyses, they conclude that it may be extremely difficult to detect moderator effects of ambivalence in observational data. Therefore, they encourage ambivalence researchers to take an experimental approach to study design and a multivariate approach to data analysis.

Citations

11 citations in Web of Science®
12 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Date:2008
Deposited On:13 Feb 2013 16:06
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:32
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0022-3514
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/a0012709
PubMed ID:18808259

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