Interest Group Psychological Sense of Community: Measurement and the Monolithic Fallacy

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Title: Interest Group Psychological Sense of Community: Measurement and the Monolithic Fallacy
Author: Prohn, Seb MacKenzie
Advisors: Craig C. Brookins, Committee Chair
Susan S. Jakes, Committee Member
Jason C Allaire, Committee Member
Abstract: Interest group psychological sense of community (PSOC) is understudied. As a result the extant literature on this phenomenon ranges from incomplete to unfounded. Therefore, the goal of this research is to investigate two assumptions posited by previous research. The first of which is the assumption that the Sense of Community Index (SCI) is measurement tool that best fits interest group PSOC data, and the second is the presumption that disparate interest groups conceptualize the PSOC construct similarly. To test the aforementioned assumptions of interest group PSOC, North American community gardens (N=110) and Australian Rules Football teams (N=107) completed an online survey assessing community perceptions. Through exploratory factor analysis newly designed PSOC items were allowed to freely compete with SCI items to create groups of observable measures best defined by PSOC’s four theoretical factors: membership, mutual influence, needs attainment and shared emotional connection. Confirmatory factor analysis was used showing a better fit of the new PSOC scale (AIC=274.51) than the SCI (AIC=281.51) test fit of model to PSOC data. An independent sample t test showed that community gardeners (M=5.32, SD=.82) experienced a less robust PSOC than USAFL players (M=5.63, SD=.91), t(216)= -2.66, p<.05, r2=.03). Then CFA was used once more to inspect factorial invariance between interest communities and the ‘generic interest community’. The results showed the change between configural and constrained models were non-significant for garden communities [∆[à ‡2(6)=12.50, p>.05] and Australian Rules football communities[∆[à ‡2(6)=7.90, p>.05]. The results of this study offer empirical support for a new interest group PSOC scale, the Interest Group Sense of Community Scale (IGPSOC), and offers insight on assumptions of conceptual plurality across distinctive interest groups.
Date: 2009-04-28
Degree: MS
Discipline: Psychology

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