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Evaluation and Application of Attitude Instruments

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One goal of attitude measurement is to ensure reliability of scores. Researchers use a variety of techniques to assess the reliability of their instruments. One technique is internal consistency, which refers to whether or not the individual items on the instrument are assessing the same attitude construct. Another technique is test-retest reliability, which refers to the consistency in respondents' scores over time. A reliable attitude instrument should produce similar scores with repeated administration when attitude change is not intended. Another goal of attitude measurement is to ensure validity. A valid instrument is one that measures what it states it is designed to measure. There are three measures of validity that are important in the context of attitude measurement: discriminate validity, convergent validity, and predictive validity. Consider this example: To assess the validity of an instrument, that is designed to measure attitudes toward volunteerism, would involve demonstrating that the instrument is (1) not related to measures of other constructs irrelevant to volunteerism (discriminate validity), (2) related to other existing attitude measures of volunteerism (convergent reliability), and (3) predictive of behavior, such as volunteering one's time in the community (predictive validity).

A brief description of the attitude instrument, and include the type of measurement used.

In terms of reliability and validity, describe the methodological strengths and limitations of the attitude instrument.

Describe an area of interest in social psychology.

Explain two ways you might use this instrument to assess attitudes in your area of interest. Justify your response with some of the following references, resources and scholarly literature.

Resources, references and readings:

Alwin, D. F., & Krosnick, J. A. (1991). The reliability of survey attitude measurement: The influence of question and respondent attributes. Sociological Methods Research, 20(1), 139-181.

The Reliability of Survey Attitude Measurement: The Influence of Question and Respondent Attributes by Alwin, D. F., & Krosnick, J. A., in Sociological Methods & Research, Vol. 20/Issue 1. Copyright 1991 by Sage Publications Inc. - Journals. Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Inc. - Journals via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Banaji, M. R., & Heiphetz, L. (2010). Attitudes. In S.T. Fiske, D.T. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (5th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 353-393). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Handbook of Social Psychology, 5th Edition by S. T. Fiske, D. T. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.). Copyright 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. - Books. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. - Books via the Copyright Clearance Center.
oRead pp. 359-370

Kieruj, N. D., & Moors, G. (2010). Variations in response style behavior by response scale format in attitude research. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 22(3), 320-342. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Roberts, J. S., Laughlin, J. E., & Wedell, D. H. (1999). Validity issues in the Likert and Thurstone approaches to attitude measurement. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 59(2), 211-233.

Schwartz, N. (1999). Self-reports: How the questions shape the answers. American Psychologist, 54(2), 93-105.

Ajzen, I. & Fishbein, M. (1977). Attitude-behavior relations: A theoretical analysis and review of the empirical research. Psychological Bulletin, 84(5), 888-918.

Crites, S. L., Fabrigar, L. R., & Petty, R. E. (1994). Measuring the affective and cognitive properties of attitudes: Conceptual and methodological issues. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20(6), 619-634.

Cunningham, W. A., Preacher, K. J., & Mahzarin, R. B. (2001). Implicit attitude measures: Consistency, stability, and convergent validity. Psychological Science, 12(2), 163-170.

Hong, Y., & Chiu, C. (1991). Reduction of socially desirable responses in attitude assessment through the enlightenment effect. The Journal of Social Psychology, 131(4), 585-587.

Newcomb, M. D., Rabow, J., & Hernandez, A. C. R. (1992). A cross-national study of nuclear attitudes, normative support, and activist behavior: Addictive and interactive effects. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 22(10), 780-800.

Schwarz, N., & Hippler, H. J. (1995). The numeric values of rating scales: A comparison of their impact in mail surveys and telephone interviews. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 7(1), 72-74.

Tourangeau, R., & Rasinki, K. A. (1988). Cognitive processes underlying context effects in attitude measurement. Psychological Bulletin, 103(3), 299-314.

Waples, C. J., Weyhrauch, W. S., Connell, A. R., & Culbertson, S. S. (2010). Questionable defeats and discounted victories for Likert rating scales. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 3(4), 477-480.

Weigel, R. H., & Newman, L. S. (1976).Increasing attitude behavior correspondence by broadening the scope of the behavioral measure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33(6), 793-802.

Zaller, J., & Feldman, D. (1992). A simple theory of the survey response: Answering questions versus revealing preferences. American Journal of Political Science, 36(3), 579-616.

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Solution Summary

Evaluations and applications of attitudes instruments are provided. The methodological strengths and limitations of the attitude instrument are assessed.

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Attitude Measurement: Likert Scale

Of the many measurement techniques, I am drawn to direct instruments like the Likert Scale. Direct instruments are easier and more common to employ as they directly engage respondents and provide an access to his/her 'inner world'. Developed by Rensis Likert, a psychologist, it is a psychometric scale which infuses theory with techniques of psychological measuring. The scale can be applied to quantify abstract concepts like knowledge, capacities, intelligence, personality traits, education, etc. Likert scales have a 5-point range, using questionnaires where the construction of the scale influenced by the theories of psychometric measurement. Likert theorized utilizing a range in which responses are scored will allow for the variation points between areas of agreement to be measured. Thus the respondents can choose between points for levels of agreement that can show the intensity of their views and feelings to be measured. This makes the Likert scale commonly deployed for a host of purposes and is also the most popular rating scale in survey research. It is also a summative scale that contains interval-level data.

Strengths & Limitations

The obvious strength is the kind of accessibility it gives to the 'inner world' of the respondents because of ...

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  • MPhil/PhD (IP), Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • MA, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • Certificate, Geva Ulpan (via Universita Tel Aviv)
  • BA, University of the Philippines
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