Relevance, representativeness, and content validity

This leads us to two of the core aspects of content validity; that is, the fact that content validity is the extent to which the elements within a measurement procedure are relevant and representative of the construct that they will be used to measure. Each of these is discussed in turn:

Relevance and content validity

Relevance simply means that you have to make sure that the elements within your measurement procedure reflect the construct you are interested in studying. We can think about relevance in terms of: (a) the purpose of the study; (b) the application of theory and judgement; and (c) the appropriateness of the elements included. Each of these is discussed in turn:

This leads us onto the representativeness of elements within a measurement procedure.

Representativeness and content validity

Representativeness reflects the extent to which your measurement procedure over-represents, under-represents or excludes the elements required to measure the construct you are interested in: (a) over- and under-representing elements, and (b) excluding elements. Each of these is discussed in turn:

As you may have gathered from this article, content validity and construct validity are strongly related. If you are still trying to get you head around how content validity may affect your dissertation, we would recommend you learn more about concepts, constructs and variables. A good starting point is the section on Concepts, constructs and variables. However, if you are comfortable with the idea of content validity, you may want to start thinking about how you can quantitatively assess different aspects of the content validity of your measurement procedure, using statistical tests such as principal component analysis (PCA) and factor analysis [see the Data Analysis section of Lærd Dissertation to find out what these statistical tests are and how to run, interpret and write them up].


Buysse, D. J., Reynolds, C. F. III., Monk, T. H, Berman, S. R., & Kupfer, D. J. (1989). The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index: A new instrument for psychiatric practice and research. Psychiatry Research, 28(2), 193-213.

Haynes, S. N., Richard, D. C. S., & Kubany, E. S. (1995). Content validity in psychological assessment: A functional approach to concepts and methods. Psychological Assessment, 7(3), 238-247.

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