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Types of Validity in Research- Definitions & Examples

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Considering the validity, as well as the reliability of your research methods and measurements, matters more than ever while conducting quantitative research

Validity is used for examining how accurately something gets measured by a method. If a particular method actually measures all that it claims and the generated results closely align with the real-world values, the method is considered to be valid. 

Research validity is categorized into four main types which involve:  

  1. Construct validity
  2. Content validity
  3. Face validity
  4. Criterion validity

This article focuses on the different types of test validity that play a key role in determining the accuracy of a measure’s actual components. However, in conducting experimental research, it’s essential to consider internal and external validity that handles the experimental design as well as the generalization of results.

Let’s discuss each of the different types of validity in detail. 

Types of validity1

Construct Validity

With the help of construct validity, it becomes easy to evaluate if a particular measurement tool actually represents the thing that we want to measure. It plays a key role in signifying the overall validity of a specific method.

What is a construct?

A construct can be defined as a characteristic or concept that you cannot observe directly. However, you can measure it by observing the indicators that are related to it.

The constructs may constitute characteristics seen in individuals like happiness, intelligence, satisfaction, fitness, depression, etc. Although, these may comprise wider concepts too that are applied to social groups or bigger organizations, such as social responsibilities, freedom of choice, gender equality, freedom of speech, etc. 

What does construct validity mean?

Construct validity is a great way of ensuring that the measurement method aligns well with the construct that you aim to measure. Suppose you plan to build a questionnaire for the diagnosis of depression, it’s essential for you to know: is your questionnaire really able to measure the construct for depression? Or does it measure the respondent’s behavior, level of happiness, or some different construct? 

For attaining construct validity, it’s imperative to make sure that the indicators you use are cautiously developed on the relevant existing knowledge. So, the questionnaire should include only the relevant questions that can effectively gauge the popular indicators of depression.

Construct validity examples:

Emotions don’t have any unit that can help us measure them directly. We can only measure emotions based on a collection of indicators. 

Happiness can be measured by the indicators such as high energy, positivity, frequency of laughing, and smiling.

Anxiety can be measured by symptoms such as restlessness, edginess, difficulty concentrating, and others. 

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Content Validity

Content validity is used for evaluating if a test can represent the different aspects of a specific construct. In order to generate valid results, it’s essential that the content of the survey, test, or any measurement method you use must cover the relevant & necessary areas of the subject it intends to measure. 

In case there are some missing aspects from the measurement or you included irrelevant aspects, the validity is at stake.

Content validity examples:

A mobile phone company wants to conduct a customer satisfaction survey about a specific cell phone model they recently launched. The survey should have questions about the product such as – features, quality, performance, color, design, price, etc. 

If some questions are left out then the survey result may not be an accurate indication of customers’ satisfaction with the product. However, if the surveys have questions unrelated to the product, the results will again be invalid. 

This means that to protect the validity of the result, the content of the survey must cover all relevant questions about the product.

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Face Validity

Face validity is used for considering how appropriate the content of a particular test looks on the surface. It seems quite similar to the content validity, but it is considered to be a more subjective and informal type of assessment.

Face validity examples:

A teacher wants to understand his students’ mental capacity. He creates surveys that ask questions about how much time they spend studying. 

On the surface, the survey seems to represent what he wants to test. The teacher considers it to have high face validity. Face validity is considered to be the weakest form among all types of validity.

Being a subjective measure, face validity is usually referred to as the weakest type of validity. Although, it can play a key role in the foundational stages of creating a method.

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Criterion Validity

Criterion validity plays a crucial role in evaluating the relativity of your test results, i.e. how closely a test’s results correspond to another test’s results.

What is a criterion?

A criterion can be defined as an external measurement of a similar thing. In other words, it is a widely popular and established test that has been considered valid already.

What does criterion validity mean?

To seamlessly assess criterion validity, you should begin with calculating the correlation that exists between your measurement’s results and the criterion measurement’s results. In case you get a high correlation, this will indicate that your test is actually measuring what it is supposed to measure. 

Criterion validity examples:

The hiring manager of an ad agency creates a test to measure the capability of job applicants for creating ads. The manager finds another test that is considered a standard to measure the applicant’s capability of creating ads. 

The manager used the result for the standard test as a criterion for judgment. She then compares the results of both the tests taken by the job applicant to assess their capability. 

She finds that the result for both tests is similar. This means the test created by the hiring manager has high criterion validity.

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FAQs

Criterion validity is used to measure/calculate the correlation between the outcome of the criterion measurement against that of your measurement.

Face validity is a subjective assessment. It shows the validity of your research/ survey result based on how they look. 

Face validity is the weakest & least scientific type amongst other types of validity.

Content validity is an indicator of whether the research questions all the content about the subject you are trying to measure. 

While content validity is also a subjective assessment, unlike face validity you can understand whether the content for measurement covers all aspects of the content or not.

Your survey/ research is deemed to be valid in terms of construct validity when the mode of measurement is suitable to the construct you want to measure.

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Join 500 + global clients across 40+ countries