Operationalizing and measuring social concepts

 

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One of the challenges of conducting social research is translating concepts into variables that can be measured and systematically tested. For this week’s discussion, think about a social construct that interests you, such as an attitude, personality trait, or emotion. Using the mental image you have of that construct, write down all of the indicators you can think of that specify exactly what you mean when you describe this phenomenon. Next, assign a value to each indicator and interpret the value.

For example, if you are interested in measuring the concept of thriftiness, one indicator might be the proportion of clothing or household items owned that are second-hand, salvaged or reused (0 = None, 1 = Some, 2 = About Half, 3 = Most, or 4 = All). Based on personal observation, we may infer that a higher value would imply a higher degree of thriftiness as a personality trait.

In your discussion post, describe the social concept you selected and name the behaviors or traits that you associate with it. Then, create a scale for measuring this concept, listing all the indicators you would you use to operationalize it and explaining each indicator’s level of measurement (i.e., Nominal, Ordinal, Interval, Ratio).

Finally, describe the procedures you would use to account for systematic error in the administering of your scale.

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