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Working paper

Measuring ‘felt respect’ for Dignity in service interactions: a new five-item survey measure performs well in three countries and three contexts

Photo credit: Calvin Ochieng/The Dignity Project

Working paper: Measuring felt respect for dignity in service interactions - 543 KB

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Dignity matters worldwide, but people frequently report being treated in a way that does not respect their dignity. Existing measures of respect for dignity rely on the observed behavior of the provider of aid or services, often only applicable to the medical domain, rather than a more widely applicable test of the self-reported experiences of the receivers of aid and services who face this disrespect.

We develop a quantitative survey measure of felt respect for dignity. The measure examines people’s experiences of a specific, recent interaction with a provider. This we validate in a survey covering three countries with divergent traditions of dignity (the US, Morocco, and China) and three contexts in which dignity is frequently disrespected (interactions with medical professionals, financial service providers, and police or security forces) (n = 717). A five-item measure covering whether people felt they were treated with dignity, listened to my requests, felt respected, felt valued, and felt supported loads onto a single construct in Principal Components Analysis (ρ = 0.4795), shows high internal consistency (α = 0.9088), and maintains sufficiently high consistency (α > 0.7) when we separately analyze all three countries, three contexts and demographic subgroups. The scale furthermore displays convergent validity with a series of previously published relevant scales: r ranges from 0.100-0.800 for scales measuring self-dehumanization, happiness, self-efficacy, self-integrity, and cultural syndrome. Convergent validity is not observed with scales for social desirability and cooperation.