The Classification Device

  • Robert A. Wicklund


This is the point at which the technical-psychological skills of the theoristinvestigator must come to the fore. Two groups of people need to be created, thus two categories, with the one category always showing the one batch of tendencies (e.g., tending to think; enjoying thinking) while the other category always shows the opposite (i.e., not thinking, not enjoying thinking). One method of doing this is to seek out various obvious physical markers, until something is found—age, nationality, religious affiliation, sex, race, or physiognomy—on which one can build the two desired categories. Such a procedure has been followed in psychology and sociology, drawing on such demarcation criteria as geographical aspects or climate associated with a culture, not to mention race and religion (Hilgard, 1987; Sorokin, 1928).1 These kinds of classification devices are called “empirical” (see Broughton, l984), because their relationship to the behaviors of interest is an empirical question. That is, the leap from category criterion (race; geographical origin) to the behavior or thought patterns of interest is indirect. Similarly, the contents of certain well-known tests, such as the MMPI, the Strong Vocational Interest Blank, and the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scales, bear no obvious semantic relation to what the investigator would like to explain. The relationship between test content and the symptoms to be examined is established empirically (Meehl, 1945).


Behavioral Tendency Demarcation Criterion Geographical Aspect Crossword Puzzle Total Test Score 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert A. Wicklund
    • 1
  1. 1.Abteilung PsychologieUniversität BielefeldFederal Republic of Germany

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