Moving from Notions to Numbers: Psychological MeasurementChapter 4 James A. Van Slyke
Two major challenges to converting notions to numbers • Ensuring that research participants are thinking about the same question that the researcher was thinking about. • This is the Judgment Phase • Ensuring that participants are able to translate their internal psychological state into some kind of value on a response scale. • This is the Response Translation Phase
Constructing a Questionnaire • The best choice for selecting a questionnaire is to use one that already has been established as reliable and valid. • If a suitable measure cannot be found, researchers choose to create their own questionnaire. • It may seem easy, but a lot goes into developing a reliable and valid questionnaire.
Constructing a Questionnaire (continued) • Important steps for preparing a questionnaire: 1. Decide what information should be sought. 2. Decide what type of questionnaire should be used (choose between self-administration or researcher administrated). • Write a first draft of the questionnaire taking the perspective of your participants
Constructing a Questionnaire (continued) • Important steps for preparing a questionnaire: 4. Reexamine and revise the questionnaire after it is reviewed by experts. 5. Pilot Testing- Pretest the questionnaire using a sample of respondents under conditions similar to the planned administration of the survey or utilize a focus group 6. Edit the questionnaire, and specify the procedures for its use. • Next steps include establishing reliability and validity of the questionnaire.
Constructing a Questionnaire (continued) • Choose how participants will respond: • free-response: Open-ended questions allow greater flexibility in responses but are difficult to code. • closed-response: structured self-report questions such as multiple choice, true-false, and likert scales are quicker to respond to and easier to score, but may not accurately describe individuals’ responses.
Tips for Wording Questions • Keep it simple- (no more than 20 words) • Use informal language • Avoid negations (e.g. Does ice cream not make you happy?) • Avoid double-barreled questions • (e.g., “Do you support capital punishment and abortion?”)
Tips for Wording Questions • Avoid forced-choice items- • (e.g. Are you a republican or a democrat?) • Avoid questions that do not yield any variance- • (Do you think it is wrong to murder someone?) • Avoid leading questions- • (e.g., “Most people favor gun control; what do you think?”).
Tips for Wording Questions • Avoid loaded (emotion-laden) questions- • (e.g., “People who discriminate are racist pigs: T or F”). • Make sure your questions are relevant to everyone in your study- • (How did the movie, “The Notebook,” make you feel?)
Tips for Wording Questions • Write multiple questions to assess the same construct- Are you satisfied with your life?, How do you feel about your life? • Mix it up • Establish a judgmental context- (Considering your current living situation…) • Ease into socially sensitive questions
Tips for Wording Questions • Ask sensitive questions sensitively • Guarantee participants’ anonymity
Ordering of Questions • For self-administered questionnaires, place the most interesting questions first to capture respondents’ attention. • For personal and telephone interviews, place demographic questions first to establish rapport with the respondent. • Use funnel questions: Start with the most general questions, and move to more specific questions for a given topic. • Use filter questions: These questions direct respondents to the survey questions that apply directly to them.
Anchors • Anchors- adjectives that lend meaning to the numbers on a scale • Endpoint anchors and middle anchors