Psychology often makes use of self-reports to assess thousands of things: if you are happy with your life, if you have outstanding personality traits or if you’re in physical pain. We can find out a lot about ourselves, isn’t that cool? But sometimes we might wonder if these sheets of paper actually tell the truth. However, questioning a questionnaire appears to be far more boring than filling out one.
So why should you do research on the validity of, let’s say, a clinical questionnaire that assesses pain? Well, it just so happens that if no one would do this, we would very quickly not be able to use any of those fun questionnaires anymore. Let’s look at an example.
The Central Sensitization Inventory (CSI) is one of those questionnaires that is widely used in research on chronic pain. It assess if a person is high on central sensitization. Central sensitization is an overexcitation of neurons in the sensory nervous system leading to elevated perception of pain stimuli, pressure and other sensations.
Wouldn’t it be awesome (and super important) if this questionnaire actually reliably assesses if a person has this condition? Surely it would! Investigating whether every single item of the inventory measures the associated construct is one approach to assure validity. How terrific if one then would find it actually does!
Research Practical, group 26