Nate Breznau
Simultaneous Feedback Models with Macro-Comparative Cross-Sectional Data

mda: methods, data, analyses, 2018: 12, issue 2, pp. 265-308
ISSN: 1864-6956 (print); 2190-493 (online)

Social scientists often work with theories of reciprocal causality. Sometimes theories suggest that reciprocal causes work simultaneously, or work on a time-scale small enough to make them appear simultaneous. Researchers may employ simultaneous feedback models to investigate such theories, although the practice is rare in cross-sectional survey research. This paper discusses the certain conditions that make these models possible and possibly desirable using such data. This methodological excursus covers construction of simultaneous feedback models using a structural equation modeling perspective. This allows the researcher to test if a simultaneous feedback theory fits survey data, test competing hypotheses and engage in macro-comparisons. This paper presents methods in a manner and language amenable to the practicing social scientist who is not a statistician or matrix mathematician. It demonstrates how to run models using three popular software programs (MPlus, Stata and R), and an empirical example using International Social Survey Program data.