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PSYB01H3 (581)
Chapter 4

Chapter 4

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Connie Boudens

Chapter 4: Conceptualization and Measurement DEVELOPING AND DEFINING CONSTRUCTS  A psychological theory is important because it will provide a conceptual framework for your study o Specifies the conceptual meaning of key terms and it identifies how variables are to be measured or operationalized o Explains the rationale for the importance of
particular concepts that are under study and why particular variables and their measurements are chosen  Conceptual framework can be thought of as a network of interlocking relationships linking theoretical ideas to concrete variables and their measurements THEORETICAL CONSTRUCTS  Heory unites concepts with their corresponding variables and their distinct forms of measurements o Does so by translating abstract concepts into particular calculable variables, each of which will include a form of objective measurement  Construct is specified in a theory in order to describe, explain, and predict a wide range of related empirical findings  Construct encompasses several referents or indicators, which are cast as variables that in turn can be measured by collecting data from multiple instruments, such as physiological recordings, object pencil-and-paper tests, and behavior rating scales OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS OF CONSTRUCTS  A construct needs to be translated into an operational definition o Provides a recipe for specifying variables that are to be used to measure a construct o Or example, the construct of anxiety can be operationalized in the form of three distinct variables—measures of psychophysiology, observational ratings, and self-report  Operational definition identifies the independent variables that are expected to produce the construct  Bushman and Baumeister: first devised a laboratory task that is intended to simulate conditions under which interpersonal violence is theorized to occur o Study began with an ordinary task in which research participants wrote brief essays expressing their opinions on abortion that they thought would be critically evaluated by another participant o Next the participants competed in a reaction time test against the person they believed had marked their essays. Researchers rigged the game so that all participants, regardless of whether they had been either insulted or praised, always won o When they won, the research participants were told that they could blast their opponent with a loud noise with the decibel level set by them o Recorded the exact decibel level the participants blasted their fictitious opponent as the dependent measure of interpersonal violence o Insulted parties would respond aggressively in a competitive game against an opponent they believed had offended them earlier  Independent Variable ->->-> Intervening Variable ->->-> Dependent Variable Narcissism -»-»-> Perceived Threat ->-»-» Decibel Level/Blasting Perceived Insulter o Perceived threat links the independent variable of narcissism to the dependent variable of level of aggressive response directed toward the perceived offender o Perceived threat mediates the relationship of narcissism and aggressiveness directed toward a perceived offender in response to the staged manipulation of insulting or praising participants  Intervening variable- hypothetical internal state that is used to explain relation between independent and dependent variables o Often represent theoretical constructs that link inputs or conditions that researchers use as their independent variables with the outputs used to measure them (dependent variables) BUILDING CONSTRUCTS  Positive psychology seeks to learn about human thriving, flourishing, optimism, resilience, joy, and capabilities o Provides a theoretical framework to study attitudes, actions, and feelings  Keyes aimed to flesh out the meanings of two theoretical constructs, mental health and mental illness o First, with regard to mental health, he theorized mental health as an enduring sense of well-being and happiness that a person regularly experiences in life  The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) defines two components that are both necessary in order to establish the presence of a diagnosable mental disorder o One component is the presence of particular symptoms of a specific disorder, and these lists of symptoms are presented in the DSM o Evidence that the symptoms have interfered with aspects of everyday functioning in such areas as work, leisure, school, and interpersonal relationships  Keyes had participants rate how frequently they felt six different positive states of mind: (a) cheerful, (b) in good spirits, (c) extremely happy, (d) calm and peaceful, (e) satisfied, and (f) full of life. Complemented these self-reported ratings of feelings and emotions with questions about behavior related to activities of daily life (What kind of activities of daily living does a person regularly do?) o Keyes identified four different forms of mental illness: (1) major depressive episode, (2) generalized anxiety disorder; (3) panic disorder, and (4) alcohol dependence during the past 12 months o Found these through the symptom list in DSM MEASUREMENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSTRUCTS  Measurement -the assignment of numerals to objects or events according to some objective rule o Variable will in turn specify a form of measurement  Example: Galvanic skin response (GSR) would be a psychophysiological variable that could be used to measure the physical aspects of anxiety; GSR is a form of measure that essentially provides an objective recording of changes in electrical properties of the skin o Second variable: scores on a self-report measure of psychological aspects of anxiety; form of measurement is an objective, multiple-choice-like test consisting of a set of questions or items that a participant answers o Third variable for the construct of anxiety could use as a form of measurement an observation rating scale that trained observers might complete on the basis of videotaped interviews  We have one hypothetical construct, anxiety, operationalized with three different variables, each using a different form of measurement: GSR, self-report, and observational ADVANTAGES OF MULTIPLE METHODS  Keyes used two kinds of methods of measurement, self-report and interview o Two methods of measurement provided him with data to classify participants into five distinct groups: (1) mental illness and languishing; (2) pure mental illness; (3) pure languishing; (4) moderately mentally healthy; and (5) completely mentally healthy and flourishing LEVELS OF MEASUREMENT Nominal Categorical, including dichotomies, no ranking Ordinal Ranks on a scale, numerical degrees, distances unequal Interval Ranks with equal distance, but no true zero point Ratio Ranks with equal distance, true zero point means absence of the quantity NOMINAL LEVEL OF MEASUREMENT  Identifies variables whose values have no mathematical interpretation; they vary in kind or quality but not in amount o Example- State” (referring to the United States) Variable has 50 attributes (or categories or qualities) The states (California etc.)  The attributes we use to measure, or categorize, cases must be mutually exclusive and exhaustive: o A variable’s attributes or values are mutually exclusive if every case can lave only one attribute o A variable’s attributes or values are exhaustive when every case can be classified into one of the categories  When a variable’s attributes are mutually exclusive and exhaustive, every case corresponds to one, and only one, attribute THE SPECIAL CASE OF DICHOTOMIES  Dichotomies -variables having only two values  Variable is categorical—measured at the nominal level ORDINAL LEVEL OF MEASUREMENT  First of the three quantitative levels is the ordinal level of measurement o The numbers assigned to response choices allow for “greater than” and less than” distinctions  Researchers commonly referred to this metric as a Likert scale o Example: ranking 5 cars in order from most favourite to least favourite  Whenever something, such as a performance or a set of objects, is rank ordered, an ordinal level of measurement is used INTERVAL LEVEL OF MEASUREMENT  Has all the characteristics of nominal and ordinal scales of measurement  The numbers indicating the values of a variable at the interval level of measurement represent fixed measurement units but have no absolute, or fixed, zero point  An interval-level measure is created by a scale that has fixed measurement units but no absolute or fixed zero point o Numbers can therefore be added and subtracted, but ratios are not meaningful RATIO LEVEL OF MEASUREMENT  Ratio level of measurement represent fixed measuring units and an absolute zero point (zero means absolutely no amount of whatever the variable indicates) o Example: money, weight, kelvin, speed (in terms of track time)  The interval and ratio levels of measurement can be treated as equivalent o Ratio numbers can be added and subtracted because the numbers begin at an absolute zero point, they can be multiplied and divided (so ratios can be formed between the numbers) COMPARISON OF LEVELS OF MEASUREMENT  Summarizes the types of comparisons that can be made with different levels of measurement as well as the mathematical operations that are legitimate Examples of Appropriate Relevant Level of Measurement Comparison Math Nominal Ordinal Interval Ratio Statements Operations A is equal to = (≠) XX XX XX XX (not equal to) B A is greater >(
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