2 Operationalization of Concepts Operationalize means to make measurableYou operationalize concepts by turning them into measurable variables.Variables are, by definition, measurable.Surveys are made up of items collecting data on concepts the researcher is studying.Each item was chosen to operationalize a concept into a particular type of variable.
3 Operationalization in Surveys ValidityLevel of Data (Nominal, Ordinal, Ratio)Exploratory, descriptive or explanatory goalAmount of detail (number of options in categorical items)Exhaustiveness of itemsClarityQuestion, item formatParticipant competence
4 Kinds of Variables General Type Specific Type Definition Examples DiscreteNominalNumbered for labelingin a category based onequality to or differencefrom other membersof the categoryAfrican AmericanAsian AmericanLatinoEuro-AmericanContinuousOrdinalItems are ranked with nostandard interval impliedby their rankingFirst PlaceSecond PlaceThird Place(the distance between first and second place, and second and third place may be very different from one another)IntervalItems are ranked with astandard interval, butwithout a standardizedzero point.32 degrees Fahrenheit64 degrees Fahrenheit(32 does not imply twice as cold as 64, and the Fahrenheit and Centigrade have different, non-standard zeros.Ratiostandard interval basedon a standardized zeropoint, and a ranking of 4implies exactly twicethat of 2.Age in years
5 Exploratory, Descriptive or Explanatory Goals Exploratory and Descriptive GoalsDemographic variables as descriptive toolsOpen ended questions, items to elicit the point of view of participantsSurvey vs. interview methodologiesExplanatory GoalsDemographic variables as independent variablesClosed- ended questions to collect identical information from all participants
6 General Kinds of Measures Open EndedFill in the BlankShort AnswerSingle ItemComposite MeasuresClosed EndedMultiple ChoiceMatrixContingency items
7 Ways to Operationalize Single Item MeasuresYes or no (nominal) cMutually exclusive categories (nominal) cFill in the blank with a category name (nominal) oOne item with Likert scale (ordinal) cFill in the blank with a numerical answer (ratio) oComposite MeasuresMultiple equally weighted items added together, called an index (ratio) cMultiple differently weighted items added together, called a scale (ratio) cC = closed-ended, O = open-ended
8 Nominal Data: Gender Gender is a good example of a nominal variable. Sample item:1. Gender (Please check the option below that applies to you.)_____Male _____Female
9 Ordinal Data: Socioeconomic Status The categories below imply a hierarchy of status moving from a low of poverty level to a high of upper class.Sample Item:2. Socioeconomic status. (Please check the option below that applies to you.).___Poverty level ___Working class___Middle class ___Upper class
10 Ratio Data: AgeYears represent a series of measurement units that are equally distant from one another, and have a true zero point.Sample item:4. Age _____ (Please fill in your age in years.)
11 Multiple Item Continuous Data: The State Trait Anger Inventory (STAXI). Each item is individually scored by the participants, and then the individual scores are added together to produce a total score.Sample items:For each of the ten items below, please circle the number that corresponds to how you feel right now.Not at all Somewhat Moderately so Very much soI am furious6. I feel irritated7. I feel angry8. I feel like banging on the table9. I feel like hitting someone10. I feel like breaking things11. I feel like yelling at someone12. I am mad13. I am burned up14. I feel like swearing
12 Amount of Detail in the Data Four ways to measure age with varying amounts of detail._____Age in months (Please fill in the child’s age in months)_____Age in years (Please fill in your age in years)17. Age (Please check the category that applies to you.)_____ _____ _____ 40-49_____ _____ _____ 70-79Life Stage (Please check the category that applies to you.)___Adolescent ___Young Adult ___Adult ___Senior Citizen
13 Single Item Two Option Measure (Closed Format)Sample item:Please check the option that best fits your experience.19. I have been involved in a physically abusive relationship._____ Yes _____ No
14 Single-Item Multiple Option Measure (Closed Format)Sample item:Please check the option that best reflects your ethnic background.20. Ethnicity.___African American ___Asian American___Latino ___Euro American ___Native American___Other: Please specify________________________
15 Single-Item Multiple Ordinal ____ Never ____ 1 time ____ 2-5 times (Closed Format)Sample item:Please check the option that best fits your experience.How many times have you been involved in aphysically abusive romantic relationship?____ Never ____ 1 time ____ 2-5 times____6-9 times ____10 or more times
16 Single Item Likert Scale Measure (Closed Format)Sample item:Please circle the option that best fits your experience.22. I usually eat when I am sad or depressed.Never True Always True
17 Single Item Fill in the Blank Measure (Open Format)Sample items:What is your age in years? _______What is your ethnicity? ___________________Age in years is continuousEthnicity is nominal and discrete
18 Multiple Item Scale Score Sample items from the Sexual Permissiveness Scale (Bauman and Wilson 1976):Please check the option that best reflects your opinion.24. Sexual intercourse is acceptable for the male before marriage when he is in love._____ Agree _____ Disagree25. Sexual intercourse is acceptable for the male before marriage when he feels strong affection.26. Sexual intercourse is acceptable for the male before marriage even if he does not feel strong affection.27. Sexual intercourse is acceptable for the female before marriage when she is in love.28. Sexual intercourse is acceptable for the female before marriage when she feels strong affection.29. Sexual intercourse is acceptable for the female before marriage even if she does not feel strongaffection _____ Agree _____ Disagree
19 Scoring the Sexual Permissiveness Scale A yes on questions 1 and 4 count 1 point eachA yes on questions 2 and 5 count 2 point eachA yes on questions 3 and 6 count 3 points eachHere having sex before marriage when you are in love is less permissive than having sex before marriage when you really like some one; the most permissive scenario is to have sex before marriage with someone for whom you do not have strong feelings. These items are differently weighted according to the relative permissiveness of the item.
20 Bias in Questions Example: 1. Don’t you think that women should be stay-at-home moms?___ Yes ___ NoBe careful that the questions in your items do not contain the answer you hope to get.
21 Double Barreled Questions Example:Did you pay your state and federal taxes last year?___ Yes ___ NoThere are two questions contained in this item. It is possible that a participant paid federal but not state taxes or vice versa. Be sure that you separate out your questions so that there is only one per item.
22 Contingency Questions Are your parents currently married to one another? _____ yes _____ no IF NO, GO TO # 42. How many years have they been married? _____Do you think they have a happy marriage? _____ yes _____ no GO TO # 54. When did your parent’s marriage end? _____
23 Matrix ItemsA matrix format sometimes makes it easier for participants to respond to a set of items that all have the same options. The section of the State-Trait Anger inventory below is arranged in a matrix format.Not at all Somewhat Moderately so Very much so5. I am furious6. I feel irritated7. I feel angry8. I feel like banging on the table9. I feel like hitting someone10. I feel like breaking things11. I feel like yelling at someone12. I am mad13. I am burned up14. I feel like swearing
24 Steps in Constructing A Survey List all variables that you will measureDetermine which of the formats above you will use for each variable.Determine what level of data you will collect for each variable.Organize the items for presentation on a survey according to:formatmatrix or other clustering of itemscontingency seriesinfluence on each othervisual flowPretest the survey on several individuals who will not be participating in the survey forcomprehensionlogical consistencytimeRevise according to suggestion that enhance the survey’s effectiveness
25 Study Guide Survey Open-ended Operationalization Closed-ended Variable Fill in the blankValidity Multiple choiceLevel of Data Contingency itemsResearch goal Matrix formatAmount of detail Short answerExhaustiveness of items Composite/multiple item measuresClarity IndexQuestion/item format ScaleParticipant competence Biased questions/itemsNominal data Double-barreled questions/itemsOrdinal data Pretesting the surveyRatio dataDiscrete dataContinuous data