Preference Assessments – Face Validity

In our continuing focus on preference assessments we’re taking a look at face validity.  Previous posts include Preference Assessments – What Are The Measuring and Preference Assessments – Test Retest Reliability

Face validity is one form of preference assessment validity that is relatively subjective and therefore an easy target for those wanting to criticize these types of instruments.  From a research perspective it is typically seen as the least important measurement due to this subjectivity.  For those of us that use preference assessments it tends to be the most important measurement.  Good face validity means participants accept the assessment and the data it produces to an extent that enables them to move forward in actually using the data for some purpose.

What is important about the subjectivity of face validity is that this subjectivity is socially constructed.  Our acceptance of a specific preference assessment at a personal level will be the result of countless interactions in the past, as well as how well the data may fit into how we may use the data to act on our intentions for future interactions.  Both the left and right hand loops of our interaction diagram below are involved.



What is often not discussed in criticisms of face validity as it applies to preference assessments is the socially constructed and subjective assumptions the criticism is based on.  One example of this is illustrated in the article noted in the post PA – Test Retest regarding validity.  The statement is made – ‘The MBTI also has much intuitive appeal. The descriptions of each type are generally flattering and sufficiently vague so that most people will accept the statements as true of themselves.’ – To me this is an assumption just as subjective as face validity is yet it is positioned as fact and a generalized criticism.

If we find more of a balance between psychology and social construction, we can accept that much of the value people find in preference assessments is socially constructed, just as the preferences they measure are.  At that point criticism of face validity can be let go and we can spend our time acting as best we can on the face validity that does exist.

Author – Tom

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