Psychology 242 - Measurement WP

Psychology 242 - Measurement WP - Measurement 1 Key...

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Measurement 1
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Key Questions What does it mean to measure a psychological variable? What is the difference between categorical and continuous variables, and why does the difference matter?
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Basic Terminology Variable : a characteristic that can vary or take on different values Example: height is a variable Value : a number representing one of many possible “states” of the variable Example: some possible values of height are 6 feet or 4 feet 2 inches Score : a specific value for a given person Example: my score on the variable of height is 5 feet 11 inches
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Systematic Observation In order to systematically observe something, it is critical to have a well- defined or quantitative system of measurement. Simple example: How far is the projector from the screen?
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A More Complex Example What about a question such as “How shy is your instructor?” This seems a bit more tricky because shyness, unlike distance, isn’t something that we’re used to measuring with an everyday tool. It is a bit more abstract and elusive.
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Can Psychological Properties be Measured? However, there are two points worth considering. Distance isn’t exactly a “thing” in the way that a desk is a thing. Distance, however, is an extremely useful abstraction . Is there any reason why shyness should be any more intractable than distance? There is nothing intrinsically concrete about inches, feet, miles, and meters. These are standard (i.e., conventional and agreed upon), but ultimately arbitrary, metrics.
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Can Psychological Properties be Measured? Finally, we must address a common complaint: Psychological variables can’t be measured . We regularly make judgments about who is shy and who isn’t; who is suffering and who isn’t; which marriages are functioning well and which are not
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Quantitative Implicit in these statements is the notion that some people are more shy, for example, than others This kind of statement is inherently quantitative . Quantitative : subject to numeric qualification.
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Interim Summary Shyness, like distance, is a useful abstraction We use the concept of shyness, like distance, in quantitative ways (e.g., greater than, less than) One goal of psychological measurement is to find standard and useful ways to systematically measure psychological constructs, such as shyness
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