chapter 5, conceptualization, operationalization, and measurement

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CHAPTER 5,
CONCEPTUALIZATION,
OPERATIONALIZATION,
AND MEASUREMENT
Chapter Outline

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
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Measuring Anything That Exists
Conceptualization
Definitions in Descriptive and
Explanatory Studies
Operationalization Choices
Criteria of Measurement Quality
The Ethics of Measurement
Quick Quiz
Measuring Anything that Exists

Measurement – Careful, deliberate
observations of the real world for the
purpose of describing objects and events
in terms of the attributes composing the
variable.

How would you measure…
 political
party affiliation?
 age?
 grade
point average?
 satisfaction with college?
 religious affiliation?

Conceptions, Concepts, and Reality
 How
would you conceptualize…
 prejudice?
 compassionate?
 Conceptualization
– The mental process
whereby fuzzy and imprecise notions
(concepts) are made more specific and
precise.

Concepts as Constructs
 Concepts
are constructs derived by mutual
agreement from mental images.
 Conceptions summarize collections of
seemingly related observations and
experiences.
Conceptualization

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Conceptualization – The process through
which we specify what we mean when we
use particular terms in research.
We cannot meaningfully answer a question
without a working agreement about the
meaning of the outcome.
Conceptualization processes a specific
agreed-on meaning for a concept for the
purposes of research.

Indicators and Dimensions
 Indicator
– An observation that we choose
to consider as a reflection of a variable we
wish to study.
 Dimension
concept.
– A specifiable aspect of a

Identify appropriate indicators and
dimensions for…
 religious
affiliation
 college success
 political activity
 poverty
 binge drinking
 fear of crime

The Interchangeability of Indicators
 If
several different indicators all represent
the same concept, all of them will behave
the same way the concept would behave if
it were real and could be observed.

Real, Nominal, and Operational Definitions
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Specification – The process through which
concepts are made more specific.
A nominal definition is one that is simply
assigned to a term without any claim that the
definition represents a “real” entity.
An operational definition specifies precisely
how a concept will be measured – that is, the
operations we will perform.

Creating Conceptual Order
 Conceptualization
 Nominal
Definition
 Operational Definition
 Real World Measurement

Conceptualization – Practice
 Anomie
Definitions in Descriptive and
Explanatory Studies

Definitions are more problematic for
descriptive research than for explanatory
research.
Operationalization Choices

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Conceptualization is the refinement and
specification of abstract concepts.
Operationalization is the development of
specific research procedures that will
result in empirical observations
representing those concepts in the real
world.

Range of Variation
 To
what extent is the research willing to
combine attributes in fairly gross
categories?

Variation between the Extremes
 To
what degree is the operationalization of
variables precise?

Dimensions

Defining Variables and Attributes
 An
attribute is a characteristic or quality of
something (ex: female, old, student).
 A variable is a logical set of attributes (ex:
gender, age).
 Every
variable must have two important
qualities.
1.
2.
The attributes composing it should be
exhaustive.
Attributes must be mutually exclusive.

Levels of Measurement
 Nominal
 Ordinal
 Interval
 Ratio

Levels of Measurement – Nominal
 Variables
who attributes have only the
characteristics of exhaustiveness and
mutually exclusiveness.
 Examples:
gender, religious affiliation,
college major, hair color, birthplace,
nationality

Levels of Measurement – Ordinal
 Variables
with attributes we can logically
rank order.
 Examples:
socioeconomic status, level of
conflict, prejudice, conservativeness,
hardness

Levels of Measurement – Interval
 Variables
for which the actual distance
between attributes has meaning.
 Examples:
score
temperature, (Fehrenheit) IQ

Levels of Measurement – Ratio
 Variables
whose attributes meet the
requirements of a interval measure, and
has a true zero point.
 Examples:
temperature (Kelvin), age,
length of time, number of organizations,
number of groups, number of As received
in college
Figure 5.1

Implications of Levels of Measurement
 Analyses
require minimum levels of
measurement
 Some variables can be treated as multiple
levels of measurement

Single or Multiple Indicators
Criteria of Measurement
Quality
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Precision and Accuracy
Reliability
Validity

Precision and Accuracy
 Precise
ones.
measures are superior to imprecise
 Precision
is not the same as accuracy.

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Reliability – That quality of
measurement method that suggests that
the same data would have been
collected each time in repeated
observations of the same phenomenon.
Reliability is not the same as accuracy.
 Test-Retest
Method
 To
make the same measurement more than
once.
 Split-Half
Method
 Multiple
sets of randomly assigned variables
should produce the same classifications
 Established
 Reliability
Measures
of Research Workers

Validity – a term describing a measure that
accurately reflects the concept it is intended to
measure.
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Face Validity – That quality of an indicator that
makes it seem a reasonable measure of some
variable.
Criterion-Related Validity – The degree to which a
measure related to some external criterion.
Construct Validity – The degree to which a measure
relates to other variables as expected within a
system of theoretical relationships.
Content Validity – The degree to which a measure
coves the range of meanings included within a
concept.
Figure 5.2
QUICK QUIZ
1. It is truly possible to measure the stuff
of life.
A.
True
B.
False
Answer: A.
It is truly possible to measure the stuff of
life.
2. _____ refer to mental images.
A.
Perspectives
B.
Theories
C.
Conceptions
D.
Methods
Answer: C.
Conceptions refer to mental images.
3. The mental processes whereby fuzzy
and imprecise notions are made more
specific and precise is called:
A. construction
B. reification
C. conceptualization
D. operationalization
Answer: C.
The mental processes whereby fuzzy and
imprecise notions are made more
specific and precise is called
conceptualization.
4. Which of the following are examples of
nominal measures?
A. gender
B. religious affiliation
C. political party affiliation
D. birthplace
E. all of the above
Answer: E.
Gender, religious affiliation, political
affiliation, and birthplace are examples
of nominal measures.
5. _____ is the degree to which a
measure covers the range of meanings
included within a concept.
A. Construct validity
B. Criterion-related validity
C. Face validity
D. Content validity
Answer: D.
Content validity is the degree to which a
measure covers the range of meanings
included within a concept.
6. In social research, the process of
coming to an agreement about what terms
mean is:
A. hypothesizing
B. conceptualization
C. variable determination
D. operationalization
Answer: B.
In social research, the process of coming
to an agreement about what terms mean
is conceptualization.
7. The _____ of concepts in scientific
inquiry
depends
on
nominal
and
operational definitions.
A. specification
B. interchangeability
C. functioning
D. network
Answer: A.
The specification of concepts in scientific
inquiry depends on nominal and
operational definitions.
8. A level of measurement describing a
variable whose attributes are rank-ordered
and have equal distances between
adjacent attributes are _____ measures.
A. ratio
B. interval
C. nominal
D. ordinal
Answer: B.
A level of measurement describing a
variable whose attributes are rank-ordered
and have equal distances between
adjacent attributes are interval measures.

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