Constructive validity reflects how adequately and fully the psychological design being researched is presented in the measurement procedures used for data collection. This is an assessment of the correspondence of theoretical constructs appearing in the theoretical hypothesis to their operational embodiment in the empirical hypothesis.
In order to investigate any psychological characteristics and functions, it is first of all necessary to identify them in the behavior that will subsequently be measured in the study, since it is possible to judge psychological properties and characteristics only indirectly, by the part that is manifested in actions and the words of a person. For example, whence, by what behavioral traits can the researcher understand that the intelligence of one person is higher than that of another, that one lady is timid and the other has an overestimated self-conceit?
Psychic can not be investigated directly and directly, as the insides at autopsy. The problem with this is that in a separate behavioral act, different psychological properties and functions, as a rule, manifest themselves together, the same behavioral signs can be manifestations of the most diverse psychological characteristics of a person. In order to record and measure psychological characteristics and properties, the researcher needs to identify such behavioral features that carry the information he or she needs about the feature or property being studied, i.e. resort to operationalization. Therefore, construct validity can also be defined as an indicator that reflects how adequately the independent and dependent variables in the study are operationalized.
If operationalization is performed well, the indicators measured in the study carry information only about the psychological function being studied (and no more about any others) and accurately measure it. With poor operationalization, the researcher can not measure what he intended. For example, tasks that well operationalize the notion of intelligence can be solved only if a person has a certain level of intelligence, and the tasks themselves are designed so that no other psychological functions, except the intellect, will allow to give them the right answer. In addition, the number of solved problems corresponds to its level of intelligence, which distinguishes all people who can solve the same number of tasks of a certain type.
If the concept of intelligence is operationalized poorly, then, even without having certain intellectual abilities, a person can solve the tasks of the test. As a result, his level of intelligence will be determined incorrectly. The measurement results will reflect some other ability that helps to solve problems - for example, intuition, but not intelligence, or perhaps a mixture of intelligence and intuition. In other words, poor operationalization leads to what the researcher probably measures very accurately, but not at all what he wanted.
The evaluation of constructive validity can be presented as an answer to the question of whether operationalization corresponds to the theoretical construct that is being studied. In other words, it is necessary to find out whether the behavior of the subjects, measured in the study, is the manifestation of that theoretical psychological construct that is claimed by the author.
If the researcher can confidently state that the set of operations that the subject uses to accomplish the researcher's task forces the subject to exhibit precisely the psychological function being studied and does not involve other functions for this, then the construct validity of such an investigation is high. For example, if the researcher can justify that his tasks on combinatorial thinking fully utilize combinatorial thinking and can not be solved with the help of other forms of thinking. However, if these problems can be solved with the help of or with the partial participation of general intelligence or any forms of thinking other than combinatorial, then the construct validity of the research will be low, since the researcher thinks he is studying combinatorial thinking, but in fact studies other forms of thinking or general intellectual ability.
If the researcher can confidently state that he adequately and fully operationalized an independent variable, then it means that its operationalization best allows one to distinguish one level of the independent variable from the other. Recall that each independent variable has at least two levels, reflecting either the presence or absence of psychological quality (for example, there is stress or no stress), or different gradations of this quality (for example, the independent variable is temperament, its levels are choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic , sanguine person).
In a study with a high constructual validity, the tasks that the researcher poses to the subject clearly distinguish that level of the independent variable in which the psychological property under investigation is presented in the behavior of the subjects completely and explicitly from all other levels of the independent variable under which the psychological quality is absent altogether or is correlated with certain alternatives.
High construct validity also means that the way to measure variables is best. Indeed, if the measurement procedure makes it possible to distinguish precisely the psychological property that the researcher is interested in, distinguish it from all others acting in concert with him or even instead of him, and adequately assess the degree of its expression, then such a procedure realizes all that is required for the measurement.
The threats of constructive validity are formed by all those effects that were discussed above and affected the methodological and procedural aspects of the study. Namely, all the threats of external validity, as well as the effects of testing and tools, regression to the average, the effects of history and growing up.
All these effects indicate sources of distortion in the procedure of the study, which ultimately lead to the fact that in the measurement results the evaluation data of the psychological feature under study are mixed and other influences such as the growth of the test subjects, their experience in participation in the studies, them (the influence of history), the influence of novelty, unusual tools, etc. With such mixing, the variables can not be measured accurately and adequately, and the researcher can not be sure that the results of one hundred research carry information about those theoretical concepts and constructs that interest him and that appear in the formulation of the hypothesis.
Ecological and other types of validity
These are the four main types of validity introduced by Campbell and his colleagues and co-authors. We can say that they correspond to violations in planning the main components of the pilot study: the definition of variables, their measurement methods, procedures for data collection and processing. Threats of validity distort information that the researcher wanted to obtain, or completely substitute the information of interest for the researcher by another, random and unnecessary.
Later, new types of validity corresponding to other stages of the study were identified, and accordingly new types of threats of validity leading to a variety of violations of the correspondence between the design of the study and the result obtained. For example, environmental validity is the correspondence of tasks solved by the subjects in the experiment, those daily tasks for which the psychological function being studied is used. If such a correspondence is high, as in field studies, its results can be safely used for the development, correction or training of the corresponding psychological function. If the tasks used in the study are very different from the tasks of everyday use, the question arises as to the possibility and adequacy of using the psychological function data obtained in such a study for psychological work with everyday problems.
For example, early memory research in the psychology of consciousness and associacy posed to the subjects the task of memorizing meaningless elements, such as metronome beats (to consider them forbidden) and meaningless syllables. These studies have made it possible to measure the volume of short-term memory and build a forgetting curve than enrich the classical memory psychology. However, they have low environmental validity, since people rarely encounter the task of memorizing meaningless elements, and even in the event that this happens, they try in their own way to comprehend them in the process of memorization. Thus, the memorization tasks that the subjects performed in the study were very different from those memorization tasks that people face in everyday life.
Similarly, more than a dozen types of validity are distinguished, distinguishing criterial, differential, prognostic, empirical, content, apparent validity. In many ways, these kinds of validity and the threats leading to their decline are similar to those that were discussed above. The nature of the violation often changes, and the threats leading to it remain the same as we have already characterized.
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