Using a Combination of Self Reports and Other Methods for Construct Validation Purposes

The most frequent examples of studies that use different methods to assess different aspects of one and the same construct are those that combine observational or physiological measures (described in Stone & Litcher-Kelly, chap. 5, this volume and Mehl, chap. 11, this volume, respectively) with self-report measures or studies that combine proxy ratings (Neyer, chap. 4, this volume) with self-ratings in assessing a construct. The assessment of physio logical indicators or observational data in combination with social and psychological variables may allow a researcher to overcome the limitations of self-report measures by combining it with methods that more objectively quantify the construct in question (e.g., blood pressure, heart rate, serum cholesterol, Cortisol, lipids, or insulin function).

The most prominent examples for using different methodologies to assess one and the same construct can be found in the area of stress research (see Hurrell et al., 1998). In fact, they point out that this is an increasing trend, particularly in job stress studies. A typical example is a study by Car-rere, Evans, Palsane, and Rivas (1991), who investigated the relationship between job strain (excess of job demands over job decision latitude) and physiological and psychological stress in urban public transit operators. Various physiological indicators of stress were assessed including blood pressure (before and after the work shift) and urinary catecholamine assays. In addition, observers recorded nonverbal indicators of stress. These include automanipulative behaviors such as scratching or repetitive play with objects such as tapping one's fingers on the steering wheel. Finally, self-reports of stressors and strains were also utilized. The results showed that enhanced job strain was related to elevated catecholamine levels, more unobtrusive behavioral indexes of stress, and higher self-reported occupational strain.

Another typical example is a study by Lundberg and colleagues (Lundberg et al., 1999), who investigated psychophysiological stress responses, muscle tension, and neck and shoulder pain among female supermarket cashiers, measuring stress using self-reports and physiological indicators (catecholamines, blood pressure, heart rate, and electromyographic [EMG] activity). Results showed that women who reported more musculoskeletal pain reported more work stress and were also found to have higher blood pressure. These physiological measures validated the self-reported stress levels of the cashiers.

Illustrative of studies using multiple methodological strategies for assessing a construct from a different area is a study by Tinsley and colleagues (Tinsley, HoltgrÃĪve, Erdley, & Reise, 1997). The authors compared self, peer, and teacher ratings of youth's risk propensity and explored the relationships of these measures to the self-reported frequency of risk behaviors in children. The analyses showed low congruence between the three types of assessments of risk propensity. Specifically, peers and teachers tended to agree more with each other than either of them agreed with the self-reports provided by the children. The authors concluded from these results that the construct of risk propensity is qualitatively assessed in different ways by the three types of raters, resulting in varying predictive utility of the measures for risk behavior. Although peer and teacher assessments were found to be valid predictors of children's self-reported risk behaviors, the children's own ratings of their risk propensity seemed to tap a somewhat different dimension of the construct.

These studies are excellent examples of how the understanding of construct relationships and the prediction of health behaviors and health outcomes can benefit from using multiple indicators for assessing a theoretical construct.

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