NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1156068
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1536-6367
Causal Interpretations of Psychological Attributes
Kane, Mike
Measurement: Interdisciplinary Research and Perspectives, v15 n2 p79-82 2017
In the article "Rethinking Traditional Methods of Survey Validation" Andrew Maul describes a minimalist validation methodology for survey instruments, which he suggests is widely used in some areas of psychology and then critiques this methodology empirically and conceptually. He provides a reduction ad absurdum argument by showing that the specified methodology can lead to absurd results and, therefore, cannot be depended on to yield sensible results. He does a nice job of pointing out the limitations of this methodology. Maul concludes that "affairs might be improved via greater attention to definitional clarity and the a priori articulation of testable theories." In this commentary, the author agrees with this suggestion in those cases in which such theories can be articulated. More generally, a testable interpretation/use argument (IUA) can be taken as a testable theory (e.g., see Kane, 2013), and if one had a strong theory for an attribute, that theory could form the heart of the IUA. Most attributes in the social sciences are not embedded in such strong theories and, therefore, the IUA would be looser and more open ended but it could be articulated a priori and it would have testable assumptions. In his conclusions, Maul suggests that researchers should view "claims regarding the existence, measurability, and causal efficacy of psychological attributes as hypotheses" and that they should "work in each situation to construct contextually appropriate theory-based explanations for the processes causing variation in item responses." The author of this commentary is not optimistic about this as a very workable methodology for a variety of reasons, which are outlined in this article. This author makes a few brief remarks about Maul's empirical examples. He then addresses what he considers a major stumbling block in the more ambitious program mentioned in Maul's concluding remarks, the problem of causality. [For "Rethinking Traditional Methods of Survey Validation," see EJ1156001.]
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 530 Walnut Street Suite 850, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Tel: 215-625-8900; Fax: 215-207-0050; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A