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Measurement

Note: Chapter 4 workbook exercises due


Tuesday, February 15
Measurement
• Def: Systematic observation and representation by scores or
numerals, of the variables we have decided to investigate
(JRM)

• Conceptual definition vs. Operational Definition


• Concepts vs. Indicators
MEASUREMENT
Examples
• Hypothesis: The level of democracy in a country is negatively
related to the level of political violence

Key Question: How do we operationalize the dependent and


independent variables in this hypothesis?
Operational Definitions
• Operationalize Democracy:
• Turnout – The percentage of eligible citizens voting in the last
national election
• Operationalize Political Violence:
• Riots – any act of spontaneous collective violence (rock throwing,
vandalism, arson, sniping, beatings) involving 30 or more people
that can be interpreted as politically motivated
Levels of Measurement
• Orderable (Ordinal, Interval, Ratio)
vs.
• Non-orderable Variables (Nominal)

• Orderable Variable: Values of an orderable variable represent


quantities of that variable, such that any value of a variable X
must be either >, <, or = to any other value of X
Ordinal Variables
• Ordinal: Assume there exists a variable X with
values X1, X2, and X3, where X1 < X2 < X3 (i.e. it
is orderable).
• This variable is said to be measured at the ordinal level if it is not
certain that the quantity of X represented by |X1 - X2| is equal to
the quantity of X represented by |X2 - X3|

• Example: X=Olympic Performance,


• where 1=Bronze, 2=Silver, 3=Gold
Ordinal Variables
the quantity of X represented by |X1 - X2| is not
known to be equal to the quantity of X represented
by |X2-X3|

X
X 1 X 2 X 3

Example: Olympic Performance


(Bronze, Silver, Gold)
Interval Variables
• Interval: Assume there exists a variable X with
values X1, X2, and X3, where X1 < X2 < X3 (i.e. it
is orderable).
• This variable is said to be measured at the interval
level if we know that the quantity of X represented by
|X1 - X2| IS equal to the quantity of X represented by
|X2-X3|;
• AND the measurement scale does not contain at TRUE
zero

• Example: Temperature
Interval Variables
the quantity of X represented by |X1 - X2| IS
equal to the quantity of X represented by |X2-X3|

X
X 1 X 2 X 3

Example: Temperature
Ratio Variables
• Ratio: A variable measured at the ratio level is
simply an interval level variable with a "true"
zero (i.e. where a value of zero represents a
complete absence of that variable)

• Example: Prize money for a golf tournament (in thousands of


$)
Nominal Variables
• Nominal – Classification of observations into a set of
categories that do not have direction (i.e. do not represent
quantities of that variable)

• Example: Race, where 1= White, 2=Black, 3=Asian, 4=Native


American
Other Types of Variables
• Dichotomous Variable:
• Variables that take on only two values
• Can be orderable or nominal
• Discrete Variable:
• Orderable variable that can take on limited values
• Examples:
• 1, 2, 3, 4….
• 1979, 1980, 1981…
• Continuous Variable:
• Orderable variable variable that can take on a limitless set of
values
• Example: decimals
Examples
• Determine whether the following variables are (i) discrete or continuous,
• and (ii) measured at the nominal, ordinal, interval or ratio levels.

• Academic Department Size (number of faculty)


• Region of Nation (North, South, East, West)
• TV watching (avg. hours spent watching TV per week)
• Crime Rate (crimes per 100,000 population)
• Hometown (city of residence)
• Partisanship (% voting Republican by precinct)
• Partisanship (party that individual is registered as)
• Ideology (7-point scale from Extremely Liberal to Extremely Conservative)
• Percentage of state population that is Hispanic
• Year of birth
• Weight of contestant
• Size of drink (small, medium, large, biggie)
Measurement Quality
• Measurement Error – Lack of correspondence between
observed indicator and underlying concept
• Validity
• Reliability
Measurement Quality - Validity
• Validity - The extent to which a measurement procedure
measures what it intends to measure
Measurement Quality - Validity
• Determine if the following indicators are valid measures of the
underlying concept

• Party registration (Dem, Rep or Ind) as a measure of political


ideology
• Number of riots as a measure of political violence
• GPA as a measure of academic aptitude
Assessing Validity
• Face validity – does the measure appear valid?

• Content validity – does the measure encompass


the entire domain of the concept?

• Construct validity – is this measure related to


other variables that would be suggested by
theory?
Assessing Validity
• Content validity – does the measure encompass
the entire domain of the concept?

• Example: An individual’s ideology (liberal-


conservative) as measured by the following
question:

• “Do you support a woman’s right to have an


abortion?”
Assessing Validity
• Construct validity – is this measure related to
other variables that would be suggested by
theory?

• Example – GRE or LSAT scores


Measurement Quality - Reliability
• Reliability – the extent to which a measuring instrument
consistently measures whatever it is that it is measuring
Measurement Quality - Reliability
• Determine if the following measures are reliable

• Level of racial stereotyping (based on interviewer by phone)


• Gender of an individual (based on interviewer observation in
face-to-face survey)
• Weight of an individual (on a scale) as a measure of ideology
Improving Measurement
Quality
• Creating multi-item measures
• Reduce errors in measurement that occur by using a single
variable

• Different types
Original CPS Political Efficacy Index [agree-disagree]

• 1. People like me don't have any say about what the government does.

• 2. Sometimes politics and government seem so complicated that a person


like me can't really understand what's gong on.

• 3. Voting is the only way that people like me can have any say about how
the government runs things.

• 4. I don't think public officials care much what people like me think.

• 5. Generally speaking, those we elect to Congress in Washington lose


touch with the people pretty quickly.

• 6. Parties are only interested in people's votes but not in their opinions.
Class Exercise…

Devise a measure of political ideology


Example: Judicial Ideology