The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Cultural Comparability in Measuring Religiosity Between Older Americans and Older Koreans

Friday, January 17, 2014
HBG Convention Center, Bridge Hall Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Jooyoung Kong, MSW, Doctoral Student, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Thanh V. Tran, PhD, Professor, School of Social Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Background and Purpose: Religiosity has an important function on the overall well-being of older people. The levels of spirituality and religiosity appear to increase with age.  However, older individuals from different cultures, languages, and nations might perceive religiosity differently. The present study attempts to assess cross-cultural comparability of the factorial structure and reliability of a fourteen-item religiosity scale between older Americans in the United States and older Koreans in the Republic of Korea.

Methods:  We used data obtained from the International Social Survey Programme 2008: Religion III (ISSP).  This is a cross-national survey covering 50 countries. We purposefully selected two countries: the U.S. and Korea for the purposes of our study.  The U.S. sample consists of 1,365 respondents aged 65 and older; the Korean sample of 1,508 respondents aged 65 and older. We used multi-group confirmatory factor analyses to assess the cross-cultural comparability of the factorial structure of the fourteen-item religiosity scale encompassing its dimensions, factor loadings, measurement errors, and the variance and covariance of the dimensions of religiosity. 

Results: The results indicate that the selected religiosity scale has an acceptable level of cross-cultural comparability between the U.S. and the Korean samples. More specifically, the scale has similar dimensionality and reliability between two cultures or two nations. We also found that although the concept of religiosity bears similar meanings for the U.S. and the Korean older respondents, the association between age and religiosity varies between two cultures.   

Conclusions and Implications: The religiosity scale attracted from the ISSP survey has acceptable levels of cultural validity and reliability between the U.S. and the Korean older populations. Without cross-cultural comparability of measurement, it is difficult to make meaningful cross-cultural comparisons and to draw meaningful conclusions. Assessing cross-cultural comparability of measurement should be the first step in cross-cultural social work research and evaluation.

Keywords: Religiosity, Old age, Factorial invariance, Measurement invariance, Cross-cultural research, International Social Survey Programme