Measuring the world of social phenomena | 1/21/2020 | Staff
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Economists working with Professor Marko Sarstedt from Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg are demanding that the same scientific standards be applied to economics and the behavioral sciences in general as are used in the natural sciences. They believe that the inherent uncertainties in measured values must be described and quantified in order to enhance the reproducibility of measurement series. Only in this way can the sources of errors be identified and eliminated.

In a recently published study, the economists investigated why so much research work in the behavioral sciences is not reproducible—or only to a limited extent. They argue that established checklists that are intended to make important aspects of the studies transparent are inadequate. According to the economist and co-author, Professor Marko Sarstedt, in physics no study would pass muster without stating the accuracy of the measurements used. "Although providing corresponding calibration data for the measurement of social phenomena is difficult to conceive of, it is not impossible." In the study the economists advocate transferring concepts from the natural sciences to the behavioral sciences and show, using a sample calculation, what major consequences the allowance for measurement uncertainty can have for a seemingly statistically significant result.

Researchers - Sciences - Impact - Interference - Factors

Researchers in the behavioral sciences need to try to incorporate the impact of interference factors directly and fully into their results. "Physicists, engineers, physicians and biologists do this by stating the measurement inaccuracy of their instruments, for example of a thermometer or scale," explains Sarstedt. "Behavioral scientists such as economists and psychologists must do the same when measuring unobservable concepts such as satisfaction and happiness—even if it is...
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