Objective Measurement of Subjective Phenomena

4. Nature of the Construct

Dimension 5: Temporal duration

An alternative way of characterizing the temporal dimension is the temporal duration of the characteristic. Acute problems are those that may be marked at the present time, but are expected to wane over time, whereas chronic problems are those likely to remain invariant over time or to recur predictably across time.

Example 13

Acute problem examples:

  1. Panic attack - A panic attack can be extremely strong and florid at a given time, but may wane rather rapidly and recur only intermittently.
  2. Major depressive episode - A major depressive episode can be a response to a major life event or series of event (e.g., death of a significant other, loss of job) and may not recur.

Example 14

Chronic problem example:

Autism - Autism is a blanket term for a spectrum of problems related to language and communication, social functioning, and (often) repetitive behaviors. Although some children with autism appear to improve notably across time, autistic behaviors tend to be problems difficult to remediate.