Content validity in evaluation and policy-relevant research

Melvin M. Mark, Robert C. Sinclair, Gary L. Benson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is argued that, in assessing attitudes about policy issues, the policy area can be conceptualized as a "domain of content," and standards of content validity applied. The role of content validity in policy-relevant research is illustrated in a study that contrasts the findings of two surveys concerning public opinion toward gun control. Attitudes were assessed with items from the two surveys, which focused on different aspects of the policy domain of gun control. It was found that inadequate content validity threatened inferences about the overall level of support for gun control, but not inferences about opinion differences between the sexes or between respondents of varying political affiliation. Discussion focuses on the general conditions under which inadequate content validity threatens inferences from research. Finally, it is argued that attention to content validity should enhance construct validity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-91
Number of pages5
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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