Historical Traces of a General Measurement Theory in Psychology

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Abstract

A review of the historical measurement theory literature in psychology reveals a recurring focus on a physical rather than a psychological model of the measurement process, whereas the active measurement research literature points to an emphasis on elements of a psychological measurement process. On the basis of the relevant portions of these anomalous findings the authors outline parts of a general measurement structure for psychology that begins with an essential theoretical base. The review first explores a century-old statement that developed a promising starting point within test development. This is followed by a diversionary statement based on physical measurement that mandated discussions of measurement in psychology to a physical model. The statement appeared to be countered by the theory of scale types (Stevens, 1946), which provided a promising element of the psychological measurement process. The legacy of the theory of scales, however, resulted in confusion and inconsistency about the specifics of psychological measurement. After reviewing some of the contributions in the research literature, a conciliation of the positive theory efforts of the past and the protocols for a measurement process are presented that is based upon the standard system of measurement (Aftanas, 1988, 2006) as the basic theoretically necessary element of measurement. The theoretical framework based on the standard system promises not only to integrate the components of measurement, and categories of psychological measurement that have been referenced in the past, but also to provide an easily assimilated protocol that can serve as a basis for future research and pedagogical exposition.

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