What can be measured? This is a key question for measurement in general and particularly for the measurement of quantities related to human perception and interpretation. Very recently, the following measurability criterion has been proposed (Rossi G B, Measurement 40 (2007) 545-562). A general procedure for ensuring the measurability of a characteristic comprises the following steps:

  1. Define the class of objects that manifest the characteristic
  2. Identify the empirical properties that define the characteristic
  3. Construct a reference measurement scale, that is select a set of standard objects “representative” of the possible manifestations of the characteristic and assign to each of them a measure that complies with empirical relations
  4. Find at least one empirical procedure for assigning measures to elements not included in the reference scale that comply with empirical relations.

It is therefore suggested that a characteristic x is measurable if it is possible for the above procedure to be satisfactorily applied to it .

What do you think of this proposal? How does it compare with your current knowledge and understanding of this subject, with your professional experience and with your vision?
Feedback and comments are warmly encouraged.

Please leave a comment here.


One Response to TOPIC FOR DISCUSSION: Measurability

  1. Gregor Sočan says:

    Rossi’s proposal is not a solution for the unification of measurement theories in physical and behavioral sciences (which is what he attempts, as I understand his paper). Steps 1, 2 and 4 are OK, but step 3 does not apply to psychological measurement. Contrary to, say, Mohs’ hardness scale, it would be practically impossible to find a useful set of standard objects in psychology. So, point 4 should be something like “construct an objective rule that establishes correspondence between the size of the characteristic and the measured object”.

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