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Definitions, Measurements, and Classifications of Stimuli, Situations, and Environments

Pervin, Lawrence A.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Classification, Interaction, Perception, Psychophysiology, Responses, Social Psychology, Testing Problems


A review of issues relevant to the definition, measurement, and classification of stimuli, situations, and environments. Problems such as the lack of adequate definitions of concepts, error and bias in measurement procedures, confusion between measurement of a concept and measurement of its behavioral effects, and the lack of agreement among alternative measurement are emphasized. It is suggested that concepts be defined in terms of objective characteristics while allowing for the study of the transactional relationship between organism and environment. The work of the ethologists in defining stimuli while studying their relationship to different organismic states and situational contexts is emphasized in this regard. Following Brunswik, it is also suggested that wherever possible there be a representative sampling of variables in natural settings. (68pp.)

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