In Psychology

Michael Eid and Ed Diener We must measure what can be measured, and make measurable what cannot be measured.

—Galileo Galilei (1610)

The history of empirical psychology is one of making measurable what most laypeople think cannot be measured—emotions, cognitions, motivations, personality traits, and so forth. As in all other empirical and natural sciences, the progress of psychology is closely and inextricably linked to the development of new and more refined methods for measuring psychological concepts. New technical developments (e.g., modern methods of brain imaging or biochemical analyses) allow deeper insights into psychological processes than ever expected at the end of the 19th century when psychology began establishing itself as an empirical science. Modern computer technology enables traditional psychological methods (e.g., ability testing, behavior observation, text analysis, and reaction time measures) to come into full flower and makes it possible to realize old dreams like measuring individuals in their everyday lives far away from the anonymity and artificiality of the psychological laboratory. Modern communication tools like the Internet make it possible to conduct experiments around the world across borders closed to researchers.

Besides the rapid progress that technological revolutions cause throughout the sciences, each science has its classical standard measures that withstand the tide of technological progress, almost unchanged. Just as a medical doctor does not abandon listening to lung sounds with instruments that have not fundamentally changed over the years, virtually no psychologist discards the treasure chests of self- and informant-reports, even though the way he or she uses them also remains virtually unchanged.

And there are previously popular methods (e.g., unobtrusive and nonreactive measures), which must be preserved and revived as valuable measurement tools that offer insights not otherwise obtained.

Although each epoch has its own scientific paradigms and methods that fit better than other methods, it would be unwise to stake scientific insight on just one. A multimethod approach offers insights into scientific phenomena and can contribute to confirming psychological theories in a way a single-method approach cannot (Schmitt, this volume, chap. 2). There are at least two reasons why psychology research and applied work make a multimethod research necessary: the multicompo-nential structure of psychological phenomena and the validity of a research program.

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