Analyzing factorial survey data with structural equation models

Bert Weijters, Eldad Davidov, Hans Baumgartner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In factorial survey designs, respondents evaluate multiple short descriptions of social objects (vignettes) that experimentally vary different levels of attributes of interest. Analytical methods (including individual-level regression analysis and multilevel models) estimate the weights (or utilities) assigned to the levels of the different attributes by participants to arrive at an overall response to the vignettes. In the current paper, we explain how data from factorial surveys can be analyzed in a structural equation modeling framework using an approach called structural equation modeling for within-subject experiments. We review the use of factorial surveys in social science research, discuss typically used methods to analyze factorial survey data, introduce the structural equation modeling for within-subject experiments approach, and present an empirical illustration of the proposed method. We conclude by describing several extensions, providing some practical recommendations, and discussing potential limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2050-2082
Number of pages33
JournalSociological Methods and Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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