Adapting Social Measurements for Special Population Groups

Ruth C. MacKay

Abstract



ALL TOO OFTEN investigators are faced with a major measurement problem in estimating values for socio-cultural-psychological variables. If there is a tool available to measure the dimension in question, very often it is designed for use with a population group different in type from that with which the investigator is planning to work. Such differences may affect the measurements obtained.
PROBLEMS OF RELIABILITY, VALIDITY AND COMPARABILITY
Researchers who are faced with the question of using a tool on a population for which it was not designed, if they suspect reliability or validity may be compromised, seem to deal with the problem in one of four ways.
1. They ignore the problem. Since researchers are but mortal beings as are other men, some mental process seems to assist them in believing that (a) what can be ignored perhaps does not exist, or (b) what cannot readily be dealt with will surely go away.
2. They identify a problem connected with the use of different and specific population groups, either in the studies in which the tool was developed, or in the new study being designed. How ever, although there may be such differences identified, for purposes of the study such differences are assumed to be negligible, and the tool is used as it stands.
3. They identify the problem, and recognize that population differences may modify in unknown ways the measurements which could be obtained through the use of such a tool. They reject the tool, developing a new method to measure the dimension in question.

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