On standardized measurement in behavioral science


  • John R. Nesselroade The University of Virginia
  • Peter C. M. Molenaar The Pennsylvania State University




idiographic filter, measurement, P-technique, intraindividual variability


That standardized measurement procedures are a sine qua non of “good” science is generally not questioned. Here we examine the meaning and use of standardized measurement in behavioral science. Procedures and methods of measurement that have served the physical sciences so well should not blindly be assumed to work in the same manner and with the same effectiveness in behavioral science. There seems to be general agreement that social/behavioral science is “different” among the sciences. Problems arising from how behavioral science is “different” begin, we believe, with measurement. We put forward the argument that the source of the difference is unique to animate objects and is first evident at the stage of measuring the behavioral attributes of interest. It is at that point in conducting scientific inquiry that the matters raised might be resolved by developing and applying alternatives to standardized measurement. One such alternative discussed is the idiographic filter (Nesselroade, Gerstorf, Hardy, & Ram, 2007).