Despite claims about the universality of religious belief, whether religiosity scales have the same meaning when administered inter-subjectively – or translated and applied cross-culturally – is currently unknown. Using the recent “Supernatural Belief Scale” (SBS), we present a primer on how to verify the strong assumptions of measurement invariance required in research on religion. A comparison of two independent samples, Croatians and New Zealanders, showed that, despite a sophisticated psychometric model, measurement invariance could be demonstrated for the SBS except for two noninvariant intercepts. We present a new approach for inspecting measurement invariance across self- and peer-reports as two dependent samples. Although supernatural beliefs may be hard to observe in others, the measurement model was fully invariant for Croatians and their nominated peers. The results not only establish, for the first time, a valid measure of religious supernatural belief across two groups of different language and culture, but also demonstrate a general invariance test for distinguishable dyad members nested within the same targets. More effort needs to be made to design and validate cross-culturally applicable measures of religiosity.
Bibliographical noteThe full text is also available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0164291
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