Definition, Examples & Measurements in Psychological Constructs

Psychological constructs essay sample

Psychological constructs represent tendencies to act or think in a certain way. However, these constructs involve internal processes which are challenging to observe. For example, when we want to measure patients’ satisfaction levels, they do not have to be satisfied at the moment. Instead, we would assess the tendencies of the patient’s behavior to show satisfaction. Each psychological construct involves a complex set of internal processes and behavior, in this case.(Psychological constructs essay sample)


Conceptual Definition of Psychological Constructs

Conceptually, a psychological construct describes the behaviors and internal processes which make up a construct and its relation to other variables.  In this case, the Big Five is a set of broad dimensions that help capture the different variations of an individual’s personality.(Psychological constructs essay sample)

For instance, neuroticism, one of the Big Five, is the extent to which an individual experiences negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, or anger in different situations. Additionally, these constructs have a vital genetic component that remains stable over a period and positively correlates with an experience of pain.

Therefore, while writing literature research, you should include the conceptual definitions of the same construct as researchers propose, test, and revise them. In this case, researchers do not have counterparts to everyday languages, such as the working memory capacity, which can help them define specific constructs like neuroticism and self-esteem.(Psychological constructs essay sample)

Operational Definition of Psychological Constructs

The operational definition of variable explains the exact measurement of the psychological measures. Ideally, these measures are grouped into three;

  • Self-report measures rely more on subjective data where participants report their feelings, thoughts, and actions using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale.
  • Behavioral measures rely more on recorded data to identify aspects of a person’s behavior. It includes the observation of behaviors in natural and highly structured laboratory settings.
  • Psychological measures involve recording various psychological processes such as galvanic skin response, blood pressure and heart rate, hormone levels, electrical activity, and blood flow.

Every psychological construct or variable has multiple definitions to it. For instance, the conceptual meaning of stress is an adaptive response when a person is in a fight or flight mode. Specifically, stress is a response to perceived danger or threat involving the cognitive, behavioral, psychological, and affective components.(Psychological constructs essay sample)

However, researchers are more likely to define stress in different operative ways. For example, they use different rating scales such as Daily Hassles and Uplift Scale, Readjustment Rating Scale, or Perceived Stress Scale to measure stress variables. Therefore, they can use different measures to define stress, including blood pressure and the level of the stress hormone cortisol.

Researchers use converging operations when integrating multiple operational definitions within a study or across different studies. In this case, various operational definitions converge on the same construct. Ideally, when the scores of different operational definitions are closely related and produce a similar result pattern, it is good evidence that one measures the construct effectively and is valid.

For example, the different measures of stress correlate with other variables, such as the functioning of the immune system. However, this correlation helps to draw general conclusions rather than specific ones and is less useful to a larger population.(Psychological constructs essay sample)

Video Guide

Measurement in Psychology

Psychological measurements focus on reducing subjectivity in predicting and interpreting social behavior. These measures evaluate the feelings, thoughts, and actions another person can notice. Therefore, researchers should use standard methods for each measuring device and remain uninfluenced by their emotions to increase the accuracy of these measurements.(Psychological constructs essay sample)

Psychologist S.S. Steven argued that scores could be assigned to an individual in a  way that communicates less or more quantitative information on the variable of interest. Therefore, he identified four scales of measurement that correspond to different levels of quantitative information conveyed by a set of scores.

Nominal Level

This level of measurement categorizes variables by assigning scores which are category labels. These labels help to identify if two individuals are the same or different based on the variable of interest.

Nominal scales do not imply any ordering in the response. For instance, when you categorize people based on their favorite color, there is no specific order, such that white comes ahead of black. Therefore, the nominal level is the lowest level of psychological measurement.(Psychological constructs essay sample)

Ordinal Level

This level of measurement involves assigning scores that indicate an individual’s rank order. Ideally, ranks communicate if two individuals are the same or different based on the measured variable. Additionally, it helps to identify if there is an individual who is higher or lower on the variable.(Psychological constructs essay sample)

For instance, when assessing patient satisfaction, a researcher may ask the participants to specify their feelings as either very satisfied, someone satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very satisfied. Unlike the nominal level, the variables in this level of measurement are ordered from the least satisfied to the most satisfied.(Psychological constructs essay sample)

Also,  ordinal scales allow comparison between two variable rates. For example, the ordering on patient satisfaction helps to ascertain that one patient is more satisfied than another regarding their healthcare experience. As a result, it reflects that the least satisfied label comes first when identifying dissatisfied patients and vice versa.

However, ordinal scales do not capture information present in other levels of measurement. For instance, the ordinal scale does not confirm if the difference between very dissatisfied and very satisfied is equivalent to somewhat satisfied and somewhat dissatisfied. As a result, we cannot determine if the two differences reflect the said differences in the psychological experience.(Psychological constructs essay sample)

Interval Level

The interval level assigns scores using numerical scales with the same interpretations. For example, when measuring temperature, the difference between 10℃ and 15℃ is the same as the 30℃ and 35℃.

However, the interval scales are not perfect when measuring temperature because zero degrees does not mean no temperature. Therefore, if an interval does not have a valid zero point, computing the temperature ratios is senseless.

Ratio Level

The ratio level of measurement involves assigning scores while ensuring a valid zero point representing an absolute absence of quantity. For example, researchers use the ratio level to measure weight in kilograms and height in meters. In this case, the zero on the weighing scale is an absolute zero when measuring weight. 

A Page will cost you $12, however, this varies with your deadline. 

We have a team of expert nursing writers ready to help with your nursing assignments. They will save you time, and improve your grades. 

Whatever your goals are, expect plagiarism-free works, on-time delivery, and 24/7 support from us.  

Here is your 15% off to get started. 

  • Place your order (Place Order
  • Click on Enter Promo Code after adding your instructions  
  • Insert your code –  Get20

All the Best, 

Cathy, CS