Measurement Levels

Making decisions about how concepts and variables are measured is vital to social scientific inquiry. Measurement also bears great importance to communication researchers. This entry discusses the tenets of social scientific measurement, the four measurement levels (nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio), and what statistics are commonly associated with each level of measurement.


In the physical sciences, measurement has been established as the process of assigning numbers to objects or observable events according to some formalized set of rules. This becomes troubling for communication researchers as they commonly seek to measure concepts and phenomena that are more abstract than objects and are not as easily observed as events. Many prominent communication phenomena fall into this troubling category, including media effects, nonverbal communication, media literacy, and health and ...

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