The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions: How Common Practices in Scale Construction Hurt Validity [ie. tension between validity and reliability]

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Sound scale construction is pivotal to the measurement of psychological constructs. Common item sampling procedures emphasize aspects of reliability to the disadvantage of aspects of validity, which are less tangible. We use a health knowledge test as an example to demonstrate how item sampling strategies that either focus on factor saturation or construct coverage influence scale composition and demonstrate how to find a trade-off between these two opposing needs. More specifically, we compile three 50-item health knowledge scales using Ant Colony Optimization, a metaheuristic algorithm that is inspired by the foraging behavior of ants, to optimize factor saturation, construct coverage, or a compromise of both. We demonstrate that our approach is well suited to balance out construct coverage and factor saturation when constructing a health knowledge test. Finally, we discuss conceptual problems of modeling of declarative knowledge and provide recommendations for the assessment of health knowledge.

Ryan Watkins