Measurement, Scales, and Indices

David F. Gillespie

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
Measurement, Scales, and Indices

Show Summary Details


Social work develops and uses measures of social and psychological phenomena. These measures are designed to represent concepts or constructs. The constructs most relevant to social work are generally latent variables. In other words, most of the phenomena studied by social work researchers and treated by practitioners are not directly observable. Examples of phenomena not directly observable include self-esteem, depression, stress, closeness, commitment, effectiveness, and many others. These phenomena must be inferred from observations collected on some behavior that is assumed to operationally define the unobservable characteristic of interest. An operational definition is most useful when it delineates boundaries of behavior and distinct points between those boundaries. Typically, measures—scales, indices, and tests—of unique items are developed to measure a particular dimension of social or psychological phenomena. Special considerations must be taken into account for cross-cultural measures. Data are gathered and statistical models are employed to determine the extent to which the scale, or measurement instrument, has functioned as intended. Measures that function as intended are published for use by practitioners.

Article.  7272 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.