Shedding the Quantitative Imperative

David Philip Arthur Craig*

Shedding the Quantitative Imperative.

In 1940, a group of physicists assembled the Ferguson Committee in order to evaluate whether or not the measurement attempts of psychometricians constituted a new field of science. They did not decide in the psychometricians’ favor, and the reason psychology was officially rejected as a scientific field by the greater scientific community was largely due to the quantitative imperative. Despite the modern widespread treatment of Likert or Item Response Theory scales as being quantitative, the psychometrician’s measurement is not of continuous ratios of real numbers, does not use physical units, and thus departs from the historical definition of measurement that has been the scientific standard since Euclid.

However, it is the density property that is critical for a scale to be not just additive, but also continuous. It was the density property that drew Stevens’ focus when he redefined measurement to be the assignment of numbers to properties according to a rule after the Ferguson Committee rejected psychology’s measurement as science.

The psychometricians selected a third, and rather damning option: to partially reject the quantitative imperative by performing false quantitative measurement, and then reaping the benefits of allegedly performing quantitative measurement. With poor measurement came poor data, and the resulting small effects required further elucidation and innovation.

However, quantum theory and Planck units complicate our understanding of continuity due to the density property. The density property requires a scale have a supposedly infinite number of divisions, but only measures of space-time can be classified as continuous with this criterion at the macro level.

Soc Behav Res Pract Open J. 2016; 1(1): 10-12. doi: 10.17140/SBRPOJ-1-102