Operationalism and realism in psychometrics

Philosophy Compass 14 (10):e12624 (2019)
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Psychometrics is one of the main approaches to social scientific measurement. It is relied upon in drug testing, economic policymaking, recruitment, and other decision-making contexts. The first aim of this article is to introduce philosophers to key aspects of psychometrics, namely, classical test theory, item response theory, and construct validity. The second aim is to show how a debate on the nature of psychological attributes manifests in psychometrics. In this debate, realists claim that psychometric measures are indicators of independently existing qualities, while operationalists argue that a measure defines its target attribute. The third and final aim is to argue that despite its poor reputation among philosophers, operationalism is a viable approach to psychometrics.



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Citations of this work

Measurement in Science.Eran Tal - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Valid for What? On the Very Idea of Unconditional Validity.Cristian Larroulet Philippi - 2021 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 51 (2):151–175.
How the case against empathy overreaches.Riana J. Betzler - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology.

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