Advantages and disadvantages of face validity

In discussing the advantages and disadvantages of face validity, we distinguish between those scenarios where (a) face validity is the main form of validity that you have used in your research, and where (b) face validity is used as a supplemental form of validity, supporting other types of validity (e.g., construct validity and/or content validity). We make this distinction because face validity is often discussed as though it is the main form of validity used during a piece of research, especially at the undergraduate and master's dissertation level. In such cases, face validity comes in for far more criticism than when used as a supplemental form of validity, where it can often help improve the measurement procedure being used. Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of face validity in turn:

Advantages of face validity

Disadvantages of face validity

If you are using face validity as a supplemental form of validity, you may also be interested in our introductory articles to construct validity [see the article: Construct validity] and content validity [see the article: Content validity].


Balance-related tests

Bohannon, R. W., Larkin, P. A., Cook, A. C., Gear, J., & Singer, J. (1984). Decrease in timed balance test scores with aging. Physical Therapy, 64(7): 1067-1070.

Olmsted, L. C., Carcia, C. R., Hertel, J., & Shultz, S. J. (2002). Efficacy of the Star Excursion Balance Tests in detecting reach deficits in subjects with chronic ankle instability. Journal of Athletic Training, 37(4): 501-506.

Emotional intelligence measurement

Boyatzis, R. E., Goleman, D., & Hay/McBer. (1999). Emotional Competence Inventory. Boston, MA: HayGroup.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2002). Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2000). Selecting a measure of emotional intelligence. In R. Bar-On & J.D.A. Parker (Eds.) The Handbook of Emotional Intelligence: Theory, Development, Assessment, and Application at Home, School, and in the Workplace. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mayer, J. D., & Geher, G. (1996). Emotional intelligence of emotional intelligence. Intelligence, 17: 433-422.

Anxiety-based measures

Beck, A. T., & Steer, R. A. (1990). Manual for the Beck Anxiety Inventory. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.

Kabacoff, R. I., Segal, D. L., Hersen, M., & Van Hasselt, V. B. (1997). Psychometric properties and diagnostic utility of the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory with older adult psychiatric outpatients. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 11(1): 33-47.

Spielberger, C. D. (1985). Assessment of state and trait anxiety: Conceptual and methodological issues. The Southern Psychologist, 2: 6-16.

Racial prejudice measures

Quillian, L. (2006). New approaches to understanding racial prejudice and discrimination. Annual Review of Sociology, 32: 299-328.

Wittenbrink, B., Judd, C. M., & Park, B. (1997). Evidence for racial prejudice at the implicit level and its relationship with questionnaire measures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(2): 262-274.

1 2