Optimizing Consistency and Coverage in Configurational Causal Modeling
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSociological Methods & Research, 2021. 10.1177/0049124121995554
Consistency and coverage are two core parameters of model fit used by configurational comparative methods (CCMs) of causal inference. Among causal models that perform equally well in other respects (e.g., robustness or compliance with background theories), those with higher consistency and coverage are typically considered preferable. Finding the optimally obtainable consistency and coverage scores for data δ, so far, is a matter of repeatedly applying CCMs to δ while varying threshold settings. This article introduces a procedure called ConCovOpt that calculates, prior to actual CCM analyses, the consistency and coverage scores that can optimally be obtained by models inferred from δ. Moreover, we show how models reaching optimal scores can be methodically built in case of crisp-set and multi-value data. ConCovOpt is a tool, not for blindly maximizing model fit, but for rendering transparent the space of viable models at optimal fit scores in order to facilitate informed model selection—which, as we demonstrate by various data examples, may have substantive modeling implications.