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Chapter 4

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Nussbaum D

Chapter 4 Developing and Defining Constructs Theoretical Constructs Construct: specified in a theory in order to describe, explain, and predict a wide range of related empirical findings.  Constructs studied in psychology include: intelligence; personality; memory; anxiety; attention.  These are not directly observable material entities. They can also not be totally captured just by their titled. Operational Definitions of Constructs A construct needs to be translated into an operational definition. It is not limited to how to measure the construct. In laboratory studies, it spells out the conditions in which the construct is supposed to occur.  It identifies the independent variable The structure of a scientific theory starts with abstract constructs, which then become independent/dependent variables. In many cases, these variables will be linked by intervening variables, hypothetical internal states. Building Constructs Positive psychology: seeks to learn about human thriving, optimism, resilience, joy, and capabilities.  Provides a theoretical framework to study attitudes, actions, and feelings. Keyes Mental health and mental illness were separate: Theorized that mental health was an enduring sense of well-being and happiness that a person regularly experiences in life. He used the DSM to explain mental illness. The DSM has two component required for diagnosing a mental illness:  Presence of a particular set of symptoms as described in the DSM  That the illness is pervasive and interferes with normal functioning He was able to match the constructs to the behaviours exhibited by people. This was considered valid research because:  The extent to which the various variables converged  The extent to which the different variables discriminated between mental health and mental illness. This study was meant to prove that mental health and mental illness were separate and that the lack of mental illness didn’t actually mean that are person was totally mentally healthy. Measurement of Psychological Constructs Measurement: assignment of numerals to objects or events, based on some objective rule.  The objects or events are variables, selected as indicators to measure a given construct.  The variable will in turn specify a form of measurement Advantages of Multiple Measurements Essential in order to develop a complete understanding of a phenomenon. Levels of Measurement Numbers are used to represent a particular scale of measurement: refers to levels of measurement of a variable Nominal Level of Measurement Def.: identifies variables whose values have no mathematical interpretation; vary in kind or quality but not amount.  Also known as categorical or qualitative level  Classifies data according to category only While attributes of categorical variables do not have a mathematical meaning, they must be assigned to cases carefully. The attributes must be:  Mutually exclusive: every case must have only one attribute  Exhaustive: every case can be classified into one of the categories These allows for every case to correspond to one attribute. Special Case of Dichotomies Dichotomy: variables having only two values This can work for a statistical procedure requires that variables be quantitative a dichotomy can be perfectly acceptable.  Example: gender. There is no number for gender, it’s just either/or. Ordinal Level of Measurement Def.: numbers are assigned to response choices, to allow for ‘greater than’ and ‘less than’ distinctions.  Allows for a ranking of responses An example of this is the Likert Scale: often involves a question about attitude or opinions that asks for a numerical rating of the extent of agreement or disagreement. The different values of variable must be mutually exclusive and exhaustive. They must cover the range of observed values and allow for each case to be assigned to only one value. A limitation of the ordinal level is that you cannot sume that the respondents perceive the differences between response scale points as equidistant. Interval Level of Measurement Def.: a blend of nominal and ordinal level of measurement. It gives a name or category for each observation, with a number serving as a code for a level.  Like an ordinal scale, responses are numerically ordered or ranked from lowest to highest on some particular characteristic.  In this case, the distances between any two points are of known size. The numbers represent fixed measurement units but have no absolute zero point. The key thing is that because the interval scale has no true zero points, ratio measurements make no sense. Numbers can be added and subtracted nut rations are not meaningful. In psychology, standardized measures of intelligence, personality, and aptitude use an interval level of measurements. They have an arbitrary zero point because a person cannot actually have no personality or intelligence. Ratio Level of Measurement Def.: represent fixed measuring units and an absolute zero point In this case, ratio numbers can be multiplied and divided, as they start at an absolute zero point. Comparison of Levels of Measurement All four levels of measurement allow researchers to assign different values to different cases.  Scores obtained on an ordinal, interval, or ratio scales all allow for mathematical operations and are often referred to as quantitative variables.  A nominal scale is used for qualitative variables Nonparametric statistics: test hypotheses for variables that use either a nominal or an ordinal scale of measurement. Parametric statistics: used with variables that are measured on either an interval or ratio scale Psychometric tests and Measurements Psychometrics: school of psychology that studies the application of psychological tests as objective measures of the mind and mental processes. Culture Counts Intelligence is only partially captured by IQ test scores and shouldn’t be confused with actual wisdom or virtue. The 15 point IQ gap A gap exists between White Americans and African-Americans, with the White Americans scoring higher. There two important points to consider about this gap:  All caste-like minorities show a similar 15 point gap between them and the nonstigmatized members of their societies  Race-based cognitive inequalities are not hereditary Really, this gap reflects outcome bias: when a test consistently produces lower scores for an identifiable class of people defi
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