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Validity of Psychological Assessment: Validation of Inferences From Persons' Responses and Performances as Scientific Inquiry Into Score Meaning

Messick, Samuel J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Construct Validity, Measurement, Psychological Testing, Test Interpretation, Test Validity


The traditional conception of validity divides it into three separate and substitutable types -- namely, content, criterion, and construct validities. This view is fragmented and incomplete, especially in failing to take into account evidence of the value implications of score meaning as a basis for action and of the social consequences of score use. The new unified concept of validity interrelates these issues as fundamental aspects of a more comprehensive theory of construct validity addressing both score meaning and social values in both test interpretation and test use. That is, unified validity integrates considerations of content, criteria, and consequences into a construct framework for empirically testing rational hypotheses about score meaning and theoretically relevant relationships, including those of both an applied and a scientific nature. Six distinguishable aspects of construct validity are highlighted as a means of addressing central issues implicit in the notion of validity as a unified concept. These are content, substantive, structural, generalizability, external, and consequential aspects of construct validity. In effect, these six aspects function as general validity criteria or standards for all educational and psychological measurement, including performance assessments, which are discussed in some detail because of their increasing emphasis in educational and employment settings. (31pp.)

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