Defining, Measuring, and Scaling Affective Constructs

  • D. Betsy McCoachEmail author
  • Robert K. Gable
  • John P. Madura


Affective characteristics, such as attitudes, self-efficacy, and values are impossible to directly observe directly in other humans; they are latent constructs. Latent constructs are variables that we cannot observe directly; instead, we infer their existence through observed variables. This chapter introduces the theoretical concept of the latent variable and the important role it plays in understanding affective characteristics. In addition, we describe the operationalization of a latent construct, the process where instrument developers make both substantive and methodological decisions about the treatment of the observed variables that they are using to model the affective characteristic. This chapter aims to aid the instrument developer in the question or item construction process by highlighting the numerous theoretical and empirical implications of construct definition, measurement, and scaling choices available. This chapter provides both historical perspectives and a review of recent research within the areas of scaling, item construction, and response scale construction.


Construct Latent Latent constructs Measurement Scale score Calibration Scaling model Unidimensionality Scales Concept Acquiescence bias Persuasive argument bias Nonattention bias Domain sampling Proximity effect Primacy effect Recency effect Thurstons Scale Likert Scale Semantic Differential Rasch Model Traceline Unidimensional Response scale 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Betsy McCoach
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert K. Gable
    • 2
  • John P. Madura
    • 3
  1. 1.Educational Psychology DepartmentUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Alan Shawn Feinstein Graduate SchoolJohnson and Wales UniversityStorrsUSA
  3. 3.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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