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Instrumental measurements in social affairs



Menarik apa yang disampai Campbell

Campbell (1969)

Measurements involve processes which must be specified in terms of many theoretical
parameters. For any specific measurement process, we know on theoretical grounds that it is
a joint function of many scientific laws. Thus, we know on scientific grounds that the measurements
resulting cannot purely reflect a single parameter of our scientific theory . . . Let us
consider in detail . . . a single meter, the galvanometer. The amount of needle displacement
is certainly a strong function of the electrical current in the attached wire. But, it is also a
function of the friction in the needle bearings, of inertia due to the weight of the needle, of
fluctuations in the earth’s and other magnetic and electrical fields, of the strong and weak
nuclear interactions in adjacent matter, of photon bombardment, etc. We know on theoretical
grounds that the needle pointer movements cannot be independent of all of these, i.e., that
the pointer movements cannot be definitional of a single parameter . . . Analogously, for a
tally mark on a census-taker’s protocol indicating family income, or rent paid, or number
of children, we know on theoretical grounds that it is only in part a function of the state of
the referents of the question. It is also a function of the social interaction of the interview of the interviewer’s appearance, of the respondent’s fear of similar strangers, such as bill collectors,
welfare investigators, and the law, etc., etc. A manifest anxiety questionnaire response
may in part be a function of anxiety, but it is also a function of vocabulary comprehension,
or individual and social class differences in the use of euphoric and dysphoric adjectives, or
idiosyncratic definitions of key terms frequently repeated, of respondent expectations as to
the personal consequences of describing himself sick or well, etc