Face Validity…

Yesterday, I briefly discussed face validity in the context of a student creating an instrument to measure a latent variable (e.g., usefulness, intention). Someone read my post and sent me an email asking “How would I measure face validity?” Well, face validity can’t be measured. Face validity answers the question – “Does this test, on the face, measure what is says to measures?” In other words, face validity is the perception that the test is appropriate or valid.

Why is face validity important? Rogers (1995) posited that if test takers believe a test does not have face validity, they would take it less seriously and hurry through; conversely, if they believe the test of have face validity, the test takers would make a conscientious effort to answer honestly.

I advise students (and faculty) to impanel a few experts in the domain under study and get their thoughts on whether the pool of items in the test appear to measure what is under study. If they agree, the first hurdle is passed. The next hurdle is to perform an exploratory factor analysis.

I emphasized the word pool in the prior paragraph for a reason. Developing a valid survey instrument takes time. One of the most time-consuming tasks is creating a pool of items that appear to form a measurable dimension. The reason why one has to create a pool is that until the survey instrument is distributed, feedback is received, and exploratory factor analysis is performed, there is no way to confirm which items strongly form a construct. For example, to get the 36-item Job Satisfaction Survey, Spector (1985) reported he started with 74 items.


Rogers, T. B. (1995). The psychological testing enterprise: An introduction. Brooks-Cole.

Spector, P. E. (1985). Measurement of human service staff satisfaction: Development of the Job Satisfaction Survey. American Journal of Community Psychology, 13(6), 693-713. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00929796