Some Behaviorial Science Measurement Concerns and Proposals

John R. Nesselroade, Peter C.M. Molenaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Primarily from a measurement standpoint, we question some basic beliefs and procedures characterizing the scientific study of human behavior. The relations between observed and unobserved variables are key to an empirical approach to building explanatory theories and we are especially concerned about how the former are used as proxies for the latter. We believe that behavioral science can profitably reconsider the prevailing version of this arrangement because of its vulnerability to limiting idiosyncratic aspects of observed/unobserved variable relations. We describe a general measurement approach that takes into account idiosyncrasies that should be irrelevant to the measurement process but can intrude and may invalidate it in ways that distort and weaken relations among theoretically important variables. To clarify further our major concerns, we briefly describe one version of the measurement approach that fundamentally supports the individual as the primary unit of analysis orientation that we believe should be preeminent in the scientific study of human behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-412
Number of pages17
JournalMultivariate Behavioral Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - May 3 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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