Objective Measurement of Subjective Phenomena

4. Nature of the Construct

Dimension 3: Context dependence

Some constructs are thought to be relatively independent of context, whereas others seem to be much more dependent on or affected by context (Donnellan, Lucas, & Fleeson, 2009; Lucas & Donnellan, 2009).

Example 9

Context-independent construct examples:

  1. Chronic depression – A person suffering from chronic depression will typically exhibit signs and symptoms of depression regardless of surroundings.
  2. General intelligence – A person with high intelligence tends to exhibit greater facility with a wide range of intellectual problems and issues than does a person of low intelligence.

Example 10

Context-dependent construct examples:

  1. Certain phobias – These are relatively context-dependent. For example, agoraphobia is fear of a panic attack in a situation offering few easy means of escape, such as a new, open area.
  2. Test anxiety – Test anxiety is a form of anxiety that arises in situations in which a person feels symptoms of anxiety only surrounding examinations of their performance.
Donnellan, M. B., Lucas, R. E., & Fleeson, W. (2009). Introduction to personality and assessment at age 40: Reflections on the legacy of the person-situation debate and the future of person-situation integration. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 117-119.
 Lucas, R. E., & Donnellan, M. B. (2009). If the person-situation debate is really over, why does it still generate so much negative affect? Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 146-149.