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Objective Measurement of Subjective Phenomena

4. Nature of the Construct

Dimension 4: Temporal constancy (or consistency or stability) versus fluctuation (or instability)

The dimension of temporal constancy can be used to distinguish trait construct, which are stable over time, from state constructs, which fluctuate notably over time (Gaudry, Vagg, & Spielberger, 1975; Hampson & Goldberg, 2006).


Example 11

Trait construct examples:

  1. Trait anxiety – This is indexed by asking a person how s/he has felt, in general, over an extended period of time, such as the last month or last six months.
  2. Big 5 dimensions of personality – These are thought to be relatively stable descriptions of an individual. They include:
    • Extraversion
    • Agreeableness
    • Conscientiousness
    • Neuroticism
    • Openness to Experience

Example 12

State construct examples:

  1. State anxiety – State anxiety is assessed by asking a person to report feelings of fear, uneasiness, or shortness of breath “right now” or “today.”
  2. Bipolar disorder – Bipolar disorder is characterized between swings between more or less manic behaviors over time.
Gaudry, E., Vagg, P., & Spielberger, C. D. (1975). Validation of the state-trait distinction in anxiety research. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 10, 331-341.