The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 147–156 | Cite as

Trends in the Measurement of Social Validity

  • Craig H. Kennedy


Since its inception in the mid-1970s, social validity has provided applied behavior analysts with a critical measure of the social impact and importance of their interventions. Recent discussion, however, has questioned the use of this construct in regard to the frequency and types of social validity measures employed in research. Despite the ensuing discussion, virtually no quantitative information has been made available to frame various perspectives and opinions. The purpose of this report is to present a content analysis of social validity measures used over the previous 20 years. Social validity was assessed along three dimensions: (a) type of assessment, (b) focus of assessment, and (c) time of assessment. Articles published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (1968–1990) and Behavior Modification (1977–1990) were surveyed. The results of the content analysis indicate that current applications of social validation procedures are presented in 20% of the articles surveyed, The majority of articles used subjective evaluation of outcomes following intervention to assess social validity. In addition, the data indicated that normative comparison was a rarely used method of social validation and that its use has been decreasing over time.

Key words

social validity applied behavior analysis assessment measurement subjective evaluation normative comparison 


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig H. Kennedy
    • 1
  1. 1.College of EducationUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA

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