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Validity in Psychology
Validity is a key concept in research. Validity (English validity)
is often translated as "validity", but may be better
understood as "durability" or "documentability". The term
meets several variations in psychological research:
In test psychology, validity is used to denote whether
a test measures what it is intended to measure. Sometimes a
test may intuitively seem reasonable (it has "face
validity"), but this is often a weak point for determining
the validity of the test. Validity can be specified in
- Content validity exists when the test
measures what it should measure. If the teacher wants to
test math skills, the test must include math tasks to
have content validity; In this context, tasks that test
writing skills have low content quality.
- Criterion validity. Sometimes the degree of
validity can be determined by comparing the test results
with a criterion, such as when comparing test scores
that are supposed to predict school performance with
grades, or when testing applicants for a pilot education
and later examining whether the test results match
actual pilot skills.
- Theoretical validity. In research,
documentation of validity is often complicated and
complicated. For example, tests that measure
intelligence or performance motivation will be difficult
to validate because these concepts are theoretical
constructs. In such cases, validity is documented by
more indirect methods.
Tests must have a reasonable degree of validity to be
usable. Built into this requirement is that the individual
parts of the test that measure the same should yield
approximately the same outcome (internal consistency), and
that the test is reliable - that it measures what it
measures in a consistent or stable manner from time to time.
In experimental psychology, two kinds of validity are of
particular interest: Internal validity, the fact
that the researcher draws a correct conclusion about causal
conditions in an experiment, and external validity, that the
results of a given experiment have generalization value.
A third form, ecological validity relates to
whether the survey is conducted under conditions similar to
the situation the experiment should state. If a researcher
examines how lay judges evaluate information and arrive at
their decision, this can be done in a simulated trial (which
will have high ecological validity, because the situation
looks like a real trial) or in a study where participants
receive information in writing and respond to a
questionnaire. (which will have low ecological validity).
More generally, the concept of validity is important when
researchers measure conditions and characteristics, conduct
and draw conclusions from observations, make theoretical
interpretations, make diagnoses, and so on.
For example, a researcher may be interested in measuring
"happiness". This concept can be measured in different ways,
some of which are better, or have greater validity than
others. For example, "material prosperity" is a rather poor
measure of happiness. So it has little validity.