Operationalization is the process by which a researcher defines how a concept is measured, observed, or manipulated within a particular study. This process translates the theoretical, conceptual variable of interest into a set of specific operations or procedures that define the variable's meaning in a specific study. In traditional models of science, operationalization provides the bridge between theoretically based hypotheses and the methods used to examine these predictions.

Examples of Operational Definitions

Imagine a researcher who is interested in helping curb aggression in schools by exploring if aggression is a response to frustration. To answer the question, the researcher must first define “aggression” and “frustration,” both conceptually and procedurally. In the example of frustration, the conceptual definition may be obstruction of goal-oriented behavior, but this definition is ...

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