The SCORE in Malaysia is implemented by the Merdeka Centre in partnership with SeeD and funded by USAID. The Merdeka Centre as one of the most credible polling firms in Malaysia, was tasked with investigating and understanding the fault lines within Malaysian society in order to better design and tailor public policy reforms to the needs of the citizens. In partnership with the Merdeka Centre, SeeD developed a multi-dimensional survey for the Malaysia electorate and calibrated the SCORE methodology to the socio-political context of Malaysia. The SCORE Malaysia aims to understand the behavioural dynamics underlying citizens choices and preferences when it came to societal attitudes to issues such as inter-group relations, education, the role of Islam in society and structural legislative reforms. The research was done in support of the Malaysian Government’s new approach to designing policies which seek to remove factors impeding social-cultural and political equity.
Within this context, the key research questions that guide the SCORE Malaysia process are:
- Which skills and competencies can contribute to better educational outcomes, enhanced employability, readiness for entrepreneurship, civic participation, mental health, family cohesion, and ability to contribute to good governance in different social groups?
- What types of schools do different communities prefer, and how can this preference be modified?
- What actions need to be taken to engender public trust among different groups, in the government and its reform programme?
- Which good governance practices and which human capabilities would most contribute to a reduction in tolerance of corruption?
- What short to medium term tangible socio-economic benefits will be required for citizens to believe that the government's reform process will improve the quality of life of low income groups? Which skills contribute to support for medium term over short term benefits?
- How can people blend national and ethnocultural identities, in ways that contribute to social cohesion and national unity?
The SCORE Malaysia was launched in December 2018, and based on the collaborative research design process, SeeD developed a questionnaire which was piloted and then administered by Merdeka to 1583 Malays, 150 Chinese and 306 Indians (total participants = 2,039). The survey collected the required data which allowed for an analysis of the societal trends in Malaysian society segmenting the attitudes along demographic, political preference and ethnic lines. The life skills dimension helped to identify particular individual citizen human capability traits and characteristic with particular positive and negative behaviours and preferences. The indicators measured by the SCORE Malaysia study can be explored and disaggregated in an interactive manner on this platform
The SCORE is based on interdisciplinary scientific research, combining sociology, psychology and political theories, and is flexible enough to incorporate new research findings, global policy guidelines, and the realities of each local and regional context. The SCORE can also flexibly integrate different modalities of data collection as required, including surveys, discourse analysis, expert assessments, and draws its strength from advanced analytical and statistical toolkits.
The SCORE process is founded upon participatory research and begins with inclusive consultations with a broad cross-section of national stakeholders, such as civil society, academia, government, business leadership, and local communities (Figure 1). These consultations contribute to an initial in-depth understanding of societal dynamics, informing the conceptual model for social cohesion in a particular country and the calibration of the SCORE questionnaire, which is constant across countries but adjusted to meet the idiosyncratic differences of each context.
Large SCORE sample frames are designed in a way to ensure that results can be reported with a high level of confidence for different sub-regions within the country, but also for distinct societal groups of interest. The actual fieldwork is usually conducted in collaboration with established national researchers or research agencies. Results are processed using advanced data analysis techniques, including factor analysis, ANOVA analysis, regression, and structured equation modelling, from which robust metrics are designed for multiple indicators. These are then translated into network analysis and predictive models that can reveal the intricate relationship between different indicators and groups. This modelling process is used to suggest effective entry points to design evidenced-based projects and policies.
To explore the SCORE methodology in more detail, you can download the SCORE book or explore other SCORE publications here
Indicators: The components of the conceptual model are translated into metrics and indicators that are quantifiable and measurable via public opinion polls. Each indicator that is measuring a particular phenomenon (e.g. economic security, discrimination towards out groups, belief in human rights, support for certain policy options, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.) is usually assessed with minimum 3 questionnaire items, scaled following reliability tests, to ensure that the SCORE can robustly capture different dynamics underlying the given indicator.
Heatmaps: A score is calculated for each indicator. The scores range from 0 to 10, where 0 means that the phenomenon the indicator is measuring is not observed in the context at all, and 10 means that it is observed strongly and prevalently. Heatmaps demonstrate the regional differences of these scores in order to identify areas of concern and tailor interventions more precisely. For example, the Personal Security indicator is measured through the following questions:
- To what extent do you feel safe from violence in your daily life?
- To what extent do you feel confident that the police or other institutions can protect you from violence?
- To what extent would you feel safe walking alone in the street at night?
A score of 0 for personal security would mean that no one in a given region feels secure at a personal level, while 10 would signify that every person feels absolutely secure. As such, a heatmap of personal security illustrates the scores for each of the regions covered by the SCORE Malaysia, allowing for an understanding of the regional variance in terms of personal security across the country.