Construct Validity: The Importance of Understanding the Nature of the Intervention Under Study

  • John S. Goldkamp


In field research, construct validity generally translates into asking questions about whether a given sample employing certain measures offers a fair test of a particular intervention under given circumstances. However, construct validity involves “explication” as well as “measurement.” In an effort to keep up with the pace of an evolving policy reform, evaluative research can overlook the logically prior question of whether the example of an intervention under study really captures the nature of the intervention, which is the focus of the research. This chapter illustrates the potentially fundamental impact of this problem of adequately capturing a fair example of an intervention of interest, using the example of drug court research. The issues discussed could easily be applied to other bodies of research examining important justice reforms with significant policy implications. This chapter challenges favorable inferences drawn from the drug court research regarding what has turned out to be a very popular and widely disseminated policy reform. In addition to illustrating the questions raised by these considerations of construct validity, it also describes an approach taken to face such concerns about whether evaluative studies reasonably capture the nature of a potentially significant policy reform and contribute evidence permitting sound inferences to be drawn about its impact.


Construct Validity Drug Court Criminal Court Underlying Construct Crime Reduction 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • John S. Goldkamp
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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