Exploring Reliability and Validity

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2 March 2016

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The Values and Motives Questionnaire, also known as the Values and Motives Inventory, is designed to examine a person’s motivation in relation to his values and activities. In order to ensure a comprehensive understanding of values, the VMQ assess three distinct areas, including: interpersonal, intrinsic, and extrinsic. Interpersonal values, according to the VMQ refer to one’s relationships with others. Intrinsic values contain one’s personal beliefs and attitudes. Finally, extrinsic values are one’s motivating factors at the workplace. Each of these three areas contain twelve topics addressed during the test. While the VMQ can be used for a variety of reasons, it is typically used in the workplace as a guidance tool. When exploring the Values and Motives Questionnaire, it is important to understand its reliability and validity. This paper will address the measurement’s reliability and validity, including its coefficients, strengths, and weaknesses.

Type of Reliability and Validity

According to Whiston (2013), “reliability refers to the consistency of such measurements when the testing procedure is repeated on a population of individuals or groups” (pg. 40). In its simplest form, reliability refers examines the dependability of the scores. It also measures the standard error of measurement (SEM) within the instrument. The SEM is a hypothesis of what the scores would be if someone took the test more than once. Whiston (2013) continues on to explain the various types of reliability, including: test-retest, alternate or parallel forms, and internal consistency measures. The designers and authors of the Values and Motives Questionnaire explain that the measurement used internal consistency reliability with the sample (Values and Motives Questionnaire, n.d). Internal consistency of reliability simply means that the test is divided into different sections. The scores are than correlated. This form of reliability assess the measurement internally to determine its reliability (Whiston, 2013).

Another important area of the measurement to understand is validity. Whiston (2013) argues that validity addresses “what an instrument measures and how well it does that task” (pg. 58). Whiston (2013) explains that historically, validity has been separated into three distinct types: content-related validity, criterion-related validity, and construct validity. The first, content-related validity, addressed the degree to which the results of the test adequately represented the specific behavior. In order for a measurement to be valid, it must be appropriate for its intended use (Whiston, 2013). This form of validity is evident in the VMQ, because the data is comparable to other instruments that measure both motivational and values factors (Values and Motives Questionnaire, n.d). Next, criterion-related validity focuses mainly on the degree to which the measurement predicted the specific criterion (Whiston, 2013).

The correlations within the VMQ appear to be average and independent of one another (Values and Motives Questionnaire, n.d). Finally, construct validity is concerned with the degree to which the test measures the intended behavior or construct. This entails that the instrument is appropriate for the test taker (Whiston, 2013). The Values and Motives Questionnaire accurately measures motivating factors and values among individuals. It appears the test provides the validity for both content and construct but not for criterion-related validity (Values and Motives Questionnaire, n.d).

Areas of Strength and Concern

The Values and Motives Questionnaire gave us internal consistency reliability and SEM. The internal consistency of this measurement used the coefficient alpha. The coefficients were all over .5, but they each had various ranges. Because the scale had such varying ranges, one could wonder if this could indicate a problem with errors? The VMQ shows an overall internal dependability and a low level of SEM. The internal consistency does surpass the requirements for a reliable instrument. According to authors of the VMQ (n.d), “…the scales approximate or exceed acceptable levels of internal consistency” (pg. 16). However, it is important to note that the scores of this test are not normally distributed, which impacts the standard deviations of the scores. While the deviation of the scores is acceptable, the test results did not have an extremely high correlation.

The VMQ also demonstrated the validity scales having lower correlations (Values and Motives Questionnaire, n.d). One weakness of the reliability to consider is that the test was only compared to other tests that examined values. It did not compare values to those of other countries/cultures. Specific cultures and/or family systems have specific values that are instilled in them throughout the years. It would be beneficial to use this instrument in comparison to different demographic backgrounds. In doing this, one will be able to gain insight into how these differences can affect the results and ensure all persons are adequately represented. Sample Size and Nature of Population

The Values and Motives Questionnaire studied a specific population. It consisted of 159 MBA and psychology students (Values and Motives Questionnaire, n.d). While research does need to start somewhere, this limited population will not produce results that represent the population as a whole. Using this specific population may lead to skewed results, specifically in the areas of achievement considering the total population that was studied were all continuing their education. Clearly, not everyone in the general population has had the chance to pursue a college degree, let alone and MBA. This high level of achievement would certainly skew the results. It is important to note that the sample size was relatively small and well over one third of the small sample was psychology students. These variables need to be taken into consideration when assessing the results of the Values and Motives Questionnaire.

Personal Opinion

Overall, I found the Values and Motives Questionnaire to be very interesting. Assessing one’s subjective feelings and value systems is not easily empirically proven. However, the idea of the test seems beneficial. However, I do believe the designers of the VMQ would gain more insight if they were to compare the results to various cultures’ values. Using the results from varying cultures will have totally different results than a small group of 159 college students. I do believe further research is needed to provide more concrete information on the topics of the VMQ. Although the instrument proved to be both reliable and valid, it is pertinent that further research be conducted to find higher correlations.

Values and motive questionnaire: The technical manual. (n.d). Bedfordshire, UK: Psytech International. Whiston, S (2013). Principles and applications of assessment in counseling. (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

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