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ERIC Number: EJ812277
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jan
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 4
ISSN: ISSN-1536-6367
Observed Variables Are Indeed More Mysterious than Commonly Supposed
Howell, Roy D.
Measurement: Interdisciplinary Research and Perspectives, v6 n1-2 p97-101 Jan 2008
The author comments on an article about psychometrics titled "Latent Variable Theory" by Denny Borsboom and printed elsewhere in this issue. The author states that Borsboom's conclusion that all variables should be considered latent until proven otherwise is sound, and that his basis for conclusion rests on the relation between the variable structure and the data structure--but that may not go far enough. He states that many if not most "observed variables" are indeed latent because in a given research context the observed variable often refers not to the variable observed, but rather to one or a subset of (possibly) several latent effects posited as its unobserved outcomes. As commonly used in research settings, variables traditionally considered as observed are more latent (if latency has degrees) than most explicitly latent variables. Borsboom touches on this line of thinking in his brief discussion of surplus meaning and in his parenthetical note that "observed variables are considerably more mysterious than commonly supposed." Because this thread is lost in his subsequent discussion, the author expands upon it in this article. He concludes that observables should be considered latent, multidimensional variables imperfectly, often nonlinearly related to their multiple latent dimensions, and that only a subset of the dimensions of the observed variable are of interest in a given research context. [For the associated article "Latent Variable Theory," by Denny Borsboom, see EJ812320.]
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A