Objective Measurement of Subjective Phenomena

4. Nature of the Construct

Dimension 2: Breadth vs. narrowness of the construct

Constructs vary considerably in their breadth. Some constructs are very broad and subsume considerable variation in content, whereas other constructs are much narrower in the content subsumed. This dimension is often discussed under the rubric of “bandwidth vs. fidelity” (Clark & Watson, 1995).

Broad Constructs

Broad constructs are those that cover a wide range of behavioral exemplars, meaning that assessment of a broad construct should be based on sampling from several subdomains of content.

Example 7

Broad construct examples:

  • General intelligence - Represented by the Full Scale IQ from an intelligence test, which should be based on multiple kinds of cognitive function; and
  • Extraversion - Has a number of facets, including talkativeness or gregariousness, assertiveness in social situations, and activity level.

Narrower constructs

Narrower constructs cover a much narrower range of behavioral content.

Example 8

Narrower construct examples:

  • Numerical facility - A subset of the domain of intelligence, which refers to speed and accuracy of responding to simple arithmetic problems, such as addition and subtraction; and
  • Gregariousness or assertiveness - Are two subdomains of extraversion.
Clark, L. A., & Watson, D. (1995). Constructing validity: Basic issues in objective scale development. Psychological Assessment, 7, 309-319.