A jingle-jangle of Labels


A jingle-jangle of labels
Some measures actually quantify different things, but share similar labels (or even identical ones: In APA PsycTests, no less than 19 different tests go by “theory of planned behavior ques- tionnaire”, 15 by “job satisfaction scale”, and 11 by “self-efficacy scale”). Other measures quantify the same thing as existing measures but under a different label. Known as the Jingle and Jangle fallacies, these are common and well-documented threats to the replicability and validity of psychological research, e.g. in studies on emotion . They involve a nominal fallacy: that a measure’s name tells you about its contents or what it measures.

Undisclosed flexibility
Even when authors profess using the same measure of the same construct, all is not yet well because disclosed and undisclosed measurement flexibility, i.e. changes to a measure with known or unknown psychometric consequences, is common. Dropping, adding, and altering items in self-report scales, aggregating total scores in various ways in laboratory tasks, or varying stimuli and trial durations all occur while researchers not only refer to the same construct, but actually to the same nominal instrument. Even when all decisions are disclosed, only a methodological literature review will reveal that many studies used, for instance, unique aggregation algorithms, scoring strategies, or items, often with unknown psychometric consequences.

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