What is it about?

I present a theory and method for measuring trait constructs that avoids the need for either deception or introspective self-report. This theory proposes that the higher a person’s standing on any mentally held construct, the more sensitive the person will be to distinctions in phenomena associated with that construct. It may, therefore, be possible to measure standing on any construct by observing the person’s sensitivity to distinctions in construct-relevant phenomena. Treating trait-descriptive adjectives and statements as the phenomena, I used a signal detection model to estimate people’s trait-descriptive sensitivity which was associated with independent measures of trait standing.

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Why is it important?

General acuity theory offers the possibility of measuring a person’s standing on non-cognitive constructs in a way that requires no introspective self-report and thus may obviate the response distortion problem that has encumbered such measurement from the beginning. I show that construct-relevant statements/adjectives may be treated as emitting construct-relevant signals. When paired to offer construct-relevant signal contrasts, these contrasts are differentially detectable depending on the person’s construct-relevant sensitivity (acuity). This model shifts the response demand from introspective self-report to that of signal detection and my findings indicate that such construct-relevant signal sensitivity is related to standing on the construct.

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This page is a summary of: The theory of general acuity: A psychophysical application to noncognitive measurement free from introspective self-report., Journal of Neuroscience Psychology and Economics, June 2020, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/npe0000116.
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