Validity refers to the degree to which a test measures what it promises to measure. A test needs to be valid if the results are to be applied and interpreted appropriately.1
Definition: Face validity
Face validity refers to whether or not a test seems to measure what it is intended to measure. This sort of validity examines if a measure appears relevant and suitable for what it is assessing.
The subsequent forms of measurement validity are:2
|Construct validity||Is the test able to measure the notion it is designed to measure accurately?|
|Content validity||Is the test's content a true reflection of the constructs it seeks to measure?|
|Criterion validity||Do the outcomes accurately assess the measurable outcome for which they were designed?|
Importance of face validity
Face validity only indicates that the test appears to be effective. It does not imply that the test’s efficacy has been demonstrated. Nonetheless, if the measure is valid at this time, researchers may conduct additional research to assess if the test is genuine and should be utilized in the future.
A measure has good validity if anybody who reviews it concludes that it appears to measure what it is intended to measure. If your measure has poor validity, a potential reviewer may be confused as to what you’re trying to quantify and why you’re employing this particular approach.
To achieve validity, your measurement should be:
- Applicable to what is being measured.
- Suitable for the participants.
- Relevant to its function.
Example: Good vs. poor face validity
In a health study, you wish to determine the participants’ ages. There are two ways to record age:
- Requesting participants’ self-reported birthdates and then determining their ages.
- Participants’ ages were estimated by counting the number of gray hairs on their heads and extrapolating from there.
These two techniques have radically different levels of validity:
- Face validity is high for the first method since it directly measures age.
- The second method has a low validity since it does not measure age in a meaningful or acceptable way.
Face validity does not guarantee good overall validity or reliability of measurement. It is a weak type of validity because it is evaluated subjectively, without rigorous testing or statistical analysis.
However, verifying the test’s face validity is a crucial initial step in evaluating its validity as it allows you to evaluate more advanced types of validity, such as criterion or content validity.
Assessment of face validity
You can test the validity of your measurement method and items by asking others to check and determine if they are appropriate for measuring your target variable.
Pose the following questions:
- Are the measure’s components pertinent to what is being measured?
- Does the measurement technique appear appropriate for determining the value of the variable?
- Does the measure appear suitable for capturing the variable?
You can send your test reviewers a short questionnaire, or you can ask them informally if the test appears to measure what it is intended to.
Who should assess face validity?
It is essential to pick qualified individuals to evaluate a test. For instance, persons who take the test would be in the best position to evaluate its validity.
Also, others who work with the test, such as university administrators, could provide feedback. Lastly, the researcher could utilize members of the general public who have an interest in the test, such as parents of test subjects or teachers.
A test’s face validity can only be regarded as a robust construct if raters exhibit a sufficient level of agreement.
Example: Assessing face validity
You discover a questionnaire that analyzes the emotional states of adolescents and intends to use it in a study. Before beginning the study, you distribute the questionnaire to both fellow researchers and possible participants.
Your fellow researchers provide you with positive feedback, stating that it has good face validity. However, potential participants report that they are unsure of the purpose of specific questions due to the usage of jargon. Additionally, they inform you that some queries appear obsolete and make no sense. From their standpoint, the inventory has poor validity.3
When face validity is best tested
Obtaining an early indicator of the test’s validity is critical, whether you’re conducting a new study or using an established test in a new context.
Here are three instances where (re)evaluating facial validity is crucial:
Developing a brand new measure or test
Using an existing test for a population the test wasn’t designed for
Using an existing test in a context it wasn’t designed for
It refers to whether or not a test seems to measure what it is intended to measure. This sort of validity examines if a measure appears to be superficially relevant and acceptable for what it is examining.
This sort of validity is essential since it is a straightforward initial step in determining the overall validity of a test or technique. It’s a reasonably straightforward, speedy, and simple method for determining whether a new metric appears valuable at first glance.
To ensure that your measurements are accurate, it’s a good idea to consult a range of people. Researchers and laypeople alike can assess a test’s validity.
Experts have a profound understanding of research procedures, but the individuals you’re researching can give you crucial insights that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
1 verywell mind “Why Validity Is Important in Psychological Tests.” October, 19, 2021. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-validity-2795788.
2 voxco. “Types of Validity in Research- Definitions & Examples.” August, 31, 2021. https://www.voxco.com/blog/types-of-validity.
3 SimplyPsychology. “Validity in Research: Definitions, Types, & Examples.” Accessed on October, 18, 2022. https://www.simplypsychology.org/validity.html.