Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Measurements, philosophy: A) the problem of measuring is discussed in the context of interpretations of quantum mechanics. B) the comparison of D. Davidson's attribution of linguistic meanings to measurement is taken up in other theories.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
Corr I 75
Measurement/traits/personality psychology/Lamiell: Trait measurements are grounded in information about behaviour or by a questionnaire. the psychometrician’s psychometrician’s objective is to represent behavioural information in terms of numerical values that can in turn be used to derive quantitative assessments of the target person with respect to the trait variable(s) of interest. The elements, which are combined in a formula are

- the assessment of a person with respect to some underlying trait represented by a dimension,
- a set of observations conveying information about the behaviour,
- the weight or importance attached by the assessor,
- an operation of summing the weighted items of behavioural information about the person.

An illustration of this is shown in the NEO Personality Inventory (Costa and McCrae 1992)(1), an instrument currently in wide use for purposes of measuring the so-called ‘Big Five’ personality traits of neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. This instrument is comprised of 240 items, for each of which the respondent indicates his/her level of agreement with the content of the item as a characterization of him/herself. See >Five-Factor Model.
Corr I 76
Problem: the assessments are not yet measurements because they lack a context.
Solution/Lamiell: what is needed in addition is

- a normative measure,
- an arithemic mean computed for an aggregate of individuals,
- the standard deviation within the aggregate of the set.

Finally we will need a transformation of z-scores into T-scores (see Corr I 77).
LamiellVsTradition: proposes instead an interactive measurement(2). See the “interactive” measurement of Cattell (1944)(3).
Corr I 78
Lamiell: Clearly, the ‘portrait’ of an individual that emerges from a set of ‘raw’ assessments can differ depending upon the way in which those assessments are contextualized.
A. Tradition: contextualized. In traditional normative measurement, assertions about what any one individual is like are formulated within a context defined by considerations about what other individuals are like, as operationalized in terms of statistical estimates of assessment means and standard deviations in populations.
B. In interactive measurement, however, assertions about what any one individual is like are formulated
Corr I 79
within a context defined by considerations about what that same individual is not but might otherwise be like, as operationalized in terms of the maximum and minimum possible assessments that could possibly have been made of him/her under the constraints imposed by the assessment procedure itself.
Corr I 82
LamiellVsEpstein/LamiellVsTradition: according to the normative measurement (cf. Epstein 1983)(4), it would be meaningless to try to characterize [a person called] Smith in any way at all with respect to this dimension without comparing him with others. To claim this, however, is to claim that prior to comparing Smith with others he has no standing at all along the dimension. This, however, is tantamount to saying that with respect to the dimension in question Smith does not exist, and if this is so, then of course no comparison of Smith with others could ever be carried out. See >comparisons/Lamiell, >interaction/Lamiell.

1. Costa, P. T. and McCrae, R. R. 1992. Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources
2. Lamiell, J. T. 1981. Toward an idiothetic psychology of personality, American Psychologist 36: 276–89
3. Cattell, R. B. 1944. Psychological measurement: normative, ipsative, interactive, Psychological Review 51: 292–303
4. Epstein, S. 1983. Aggregation and beyond: some basic issues in the prediction of behaviour, Journal of Personality 51: 360–92, p. 381.

James T. Lamiell, “The characterization of persons: some fundamental conceptual issues”, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Lamiell, James T.
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018

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