Measure Twice, Cut Down Error: A Process for Enhancing the Validity of Survey Scales

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Abstract

For years psychologists across many subfields have undertaken the formidable challenge of designing survey scales to assess attitudes, opinions, and behaviors. Correspondingly, scholars have written much to guide researchers in this undertaking. Yet, many new scales violate established best practices in survey design, suggesting the need for a new approach to designing surveys. This article presents 6 steps to facilitate the construction of questionnaire scales. Unlike previous processes, this one front loads input from other academics and potential respondents in the item-development and revision phase with the goal of achieving credibility across both populations. Specifically, the article describes how (a) a literature review and (b) focus group–interview data can be (c) synthesized into a comprehensive list to facilitate (d) the development of items. Next, survey designers can subject the items to (e) an expert review and (f) cognitive pretesting before executing a pilot test.

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