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Scale Development

Scale Development
Theory and Applications

Fourth Edition

April 2016 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
In the Fourth Edition of Scale Development, Robert F. DeVellis demystifies measurement by emphasizing a logical rather than strictly mathematical understanding of concepts. The text supports readers in comprehending newer approaches to measurement, comparing them to classical approaches, and grasping more clearly the relative merits of each. This edition addresses new topics pertinent to modern measurement approaches and includes additional exercises and topics for class discussion.

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1. Overview
General Perspectives on Measurement  
Historical Origins of Measurement in Social Science  
Later Developments in Measurement  
The Role of Measurement in the Social Sciences  
Summary and Preview  
2. Understanding the Latent Variable
Constructs versus Measures  
Latent Variable as the Presumed Cause of Item Values  
Path Diagrams  
Further Elaboration of the Measurement Model  
Parallel Tests  
Alternative Models  
3. Reliability
Methods Based on the Analysis of Variance  
Continuous versus Dichotomous Items  
Internal Consistency  
Reliability Based on Correlations Between Scale Scores  
Reliability and Statistical Power  
Generalizability Theory  
4. Validity
Content Validity  
Criterion-Related Validity  
Construct Validity  
5. Guidelines in Scale Development
Step 1: Determine Clearly What it is You Want to Measure  
Step 2: Generate an Item Pool  
Step 3: Determine the Format for Measurement  
Step 4: Have Initial Item Pool Reviewed by Experts  
Step 5: Consider Inclusion of Validation Items  
Step 6: Administer Items to a Development Sample  
Step 7: Evaluate the Items  
Step 8: Optimize Scale Length  
6. Factor Analysis
Overview of Factor Analysis  
Conceptual Description of Factor Analysis  
Bifactor and Hierarchical Factor Models  
Interpreting Factors  
Principle Components versus Common Factors  
Confirmatory Factor Analysis  
Using Factor Analysis in Scale Development  
Sample Size  
7. An Overview of Item Response Theory
Item Difficulty  
Item Discrimination  
Guessing, or False Positives  
Item-Characteristic Curves  
IRT Applied to Multiresponse Items  
8. Measurement in the Broader Research Context
Before Scale Development  
After Scale Administration  
Final Thoughts  

“This is the foremost text on scale development for both the experienced and novice researcher alike.”

Richard Conti
Kean University

“The Fourth Edition captures the recent development in measurement (e.g., alternatives to Alpha, bifactor model, hierarchical factor model, and available tools in R) by explaining concepts using accessible languages and examples.”

Shuyan Sun
University of Maryland

“The Fourth Edition of Scale Development incorporates practical examples and exercises to aid in student learning and understanding the fundamentals of measurement. The text continues to be a go-to resource for scholars and students alike.” 

Stephen W. Dittmore
University of Arkansas


“The key strength of this text is its ability to present the basic and necessary background on scale construction and measurement for the subsequent material, either in the context of the same first-year graduate course or in future courses during a masters and PhD program.”

René Bautista
University of Nebraska – Lincoln

“This book does an excellent job in explaining complicated topics in test construction at a level that students can understand. The use of specific examples that demonstrate key points is very effective.”

Jonathan Feldman, Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University
Key features


  • Coverage of new and advanced topics includes limitations of and alternatives to coefficient alpha, alternative factor analytic approaches (e.g., bifactor model) that may help in achieving unidimensionality for complex sets of items, an overview of coefficient omega, as well as strategies for offering readers a more comprehensive view of content validity.
  • Exercises for self-assessment and class discussion have been added throughout, allowing students to identify knowledge gaps, actively learn the material through engagement, and ultimately better retain what they learn.
  • Expanded material on the history of measurement includes a discussion of the classification of mental disorders.
  • More in-depth examination of construct validity with emphasis on the importance of defining and operationalizing variables allows readers to establish real working knowledge at an appropriate level of specificity for the intended research.
  • Additional content on Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) and its relationship to item response theory gives readers a well-rounded grasp on this commonly utilized methodology.
  • Thorough discussion of mechanisms actively guides students’ comprehension of the nature of the causal relationship between an underlying variable and a measure designed to assess it.


  • Analogies, figures, and examples present complex material conceptually and aid in overall comprehension.
  • Practical guidance for developing new scales allows readers with little prior knowledge to follow a series of guided steps toward the conceptualization, development, and evaluation of a new measurement instrument.
  • Topic discussions structured to maximize continuity build on more basic material to focus on conceptual understanding rather than computational mastery. 

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 6

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