Re-Examining the 6-Itemed Measurement of Citizen’s Preference on the Issue of Independence vs. Unification in Taiwan: A Proposed Advancement





Published date: 

November, 2012


Yi-ching Hsiao
Ching-hsin Yu


It is commonly seen that the citizens’ preferences regarding the issue of “unification vs. independence” are determined by a six-itemed measurement placing unification and independence as the two ends of a one-dimensional continuum and four other related items in between. The citizens are directly asked to pick out one of the six items. This method has an advantage of being easily understood by citizens when answering questions. However, it has also led to a high proportion of citizens choosing the item referred to as “maintaining the status quo.” In responding to this defect, scholars have introduced conditional terms, such as “China’s military invasion” and “political and economic differences between the two sides” to decode the citizen’s real intention to maintain the status quo. The method of adding conditional terms also carries a merit of exploring the citizen’s ideological and pragmatic considerations on the issue of unification vs. independence. Unfortunately, this method might suffer from complicated measurements and variable processes on the one hand, and from failing to add new conditions effectively under changing environments on the other. In order to maintain the advantage of the one-dimension continuum and decoding the citizens’ intention to maintain the status quo at the same time, this essay proposes an improvement by adding two followup questions regarding the citizens’ second preferences and least-desired preferences on the issue of unification vs. independence after the measurement involving six items. The empirical evidence used in this essay would suggest that the new measurement has not only outperformed the previous measurement involving six items in decoding the citizens’ maintenance of the status quo but also the transitivity among the six items. With validity, this new measurement has more explanatory power than the previous measurement. Methodologically, this essay has provided an improvement in the measurement of crucial variables. In essence, this essay has also made the understanding of citizens’ preferences regarding the issue of unification vs.independence more perceptible