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Friday, June 21, 2013

Scale Development: Theory and Applications



The book Scale Development Theory and Applications by Robert Devellis provides a strong overview of the creation and development of survey scales for applied social research. He uses simple language with illustrations to make the complex statistical process as easy to understand as possible. It will help researchers develop surveys instruments that do not confound variables and create improper results.

One of the more difficult things that researchers face is developing their own survey instrument. Certainly, a person can build a list of questions but these questions may confound variables making the results useless. When possible it is almost always better to use preexisting validated surveys that do not require much work. Unfortunately, for a large percentage of unique problems one has to start the daunting task of building their own.

The book will move through an introductory background of measurement research and how important it has been throughout history. Duncan states in 1984 that experimental measurements”…can be drawn in the history of physics: the measurement of length or distance, area, volume, weight and time was achieved by ancient peoples in the course of solving practical, social problems; and physical science was built on the foundations of those achievements.”

When conducting research it is beneficial to understand the latent variable. This has also been called the hidden variable. It means that that the variable can’t be seen directly but can be found through indirect observation based upon data. For example, someone from the outside can’t physically see psychological concepts but can use models to draw conclusions. Of course, without direct observation it is impossible to know 100% for sure it actually exists. As the models change so does the findings.

The book will cover the latent variable, reliability, validity, scale development, factor analysis, and Item Response Theory. It takes complex statistical concepts and condenses it to the basics so that readers can understand as they develop their research. The book is also reasonably priced when compared to statistical manuals and books. As a focused scale book it is one of the best on the market.

DeVellis, R. (2012). Scale Development: Theory and Applications. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.


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