Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Nomological Nets

  • Franzis PreckelEmail author
  • Martin Brunner
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1334-1


The term “nomological net” has been coined in the seminal paper by Cronbach and Meehl (1955) on construct validity (see also American Psychological Association 1954). Cronbach and Meehl introduced the idea of construct validity to validate theoretical attributes or qualities (i.e., constructs) for which there is no adequate criterion or which cannot be defined operationally, for example, personality traits or intelligence. The concept of construct validity as defined by Cronbach and Meehl did not only refer to measures of constructs, as did the earlier validity concepts of content validity or predictive validity, but intertwined the construct validation of measures with theory testing. According to construct validity theory, a construct is implicitly defined by its position in a network of other constructs that is deduced from theory and based on scientific laws – the “nomological net” (Cronbach and Meehl 1955). The laws in the nomological net or network (nomological:...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. American Psychological Association. (1954). Technical recommendations for psychological tests and diagnostic techniques. Psychological Bulletin, 51(2, Suppl.).Google Scholar
  2. Borsboom, D., Mellenbergh, G. J., & van Heerden, J. (2004). The concept of validity. Psychological Review, 111, 1061–1071. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.111.4.1061.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Brennan, L. R. (2013). Commentary on “Validating the Interpretations and Uses of Test Scores”. Journal of Educational Measurement (Special Issue: Validity), 50, 74–83. doi:10.1111/jedm.12001.Google Scholar
  4. Campbell, D. T., & Fiske, D. W. (1959). Convergent and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix. Psychological Bulletin, 56, 81–105. doi:10.1037/h0046016.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Colliver, J. A., Conlee, M. J., & Verhulst, S. J. (2012). From test validity to construct validity … and back? Medical Education in Review , 46, 366371. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2011.04194.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cronbach, L. J. (1988). Five perspectives on the validity argument. In H. Wainer & H. I. Braun (Eds.), Test validity (pp. 3–17). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  7. Cronbach, L. J., & Meehl, P. E. (1955). Construct validity in psychological tests. Psychological Bulletin, 52, 281–302. doi:10.1037/h0040957.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Embretson, S. E. (1983). Construct validity: Construct representation versus nomothetic span. Psychological Bulletin, 93(1), 179–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Embretson, S. E. (2007). Construct validity: A universal validity system or just another test evaluation procedure? Educational Researcher, 36, 449–455. doi:10.3102/0013189X07311600.Google Scholar
  10. Epskamp, S., Cramer, A. O. J., Waldorp, L. J., Schmittmann, V. D., & Borsboom, D. (2012). qgraph: Network visualizations of relationships in psychometric data. Journal of Statistical Software, 48, 1–18. doi:10.18637/jss.v048.i04.Google Scholar
  11. Kane, M. (2001). Current concerns in validity theory. Journal of Educational Measurement, 38, 319–342. doi:10.1111/j.1745-3984.2001.tb01130.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kane, M. (2013). Validating the interpretations and uses of test scores. Journal of Educational Measurement, 50, 1–73. doi:10.1111/jedm.12000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Messick, S. (1995). Validity of psychological assessment: Validation of inferences from persons’ responses and performances as scientific inquiry into score meaning. American Psychologist, 50, 741–749. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.50.9.741.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Newton, P. E., & Shaw, S. D. (2013). Standards for talking and thinking about validity. Psychological Methods, 18, 301–319. doi:10.1037/a0032969.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2012). Sources of method bias in social science research and recommendations on how to control it. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 539–569. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2016). Recommendations for creating better concept definitions in the organizational, behavioral, and social sciences. Organizational Research Methods. doi:10.1177/1094428115624965. Published online before print.Google Scholar
  17. Schweizer, K. (2012). On issues on validity and especially on the misery of convergent validity. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 28, 249–254. doi:10.1027/1015-5759/a000156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Shaffer, J. A., DeGeest, D., & Li, A. (2015). Tackling the problem of construct proliferation: A guide to assessing the discriminant validity of conceptually related constructs. Organizational Research Methods. doi:10.1177/1094428115598239. Published online before print.Google Scholar
  19. Strauss, M. E., & Smith, G. T. (2009). Construct validity: advances in theory and methodology. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology , 5, 1–25. doi:10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.032408.153639.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Westen, D., & Rosenthal, R. (2003). Quantifying construct validity: Two simple measures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 608–618. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.3.608.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Ziegler, M., Booth, T., & Bensch, D. (2013). Getting entangled in the nomological net. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 29, 157–161. doi:10.1027/1015-5759/a000173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Chair of Giftedness Research and EducationUniversity of TrierTrierGermany
  2. 2.Berlin-Brandenburg Institute for School QualityFree University of BerlinBerlinGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Matthias Ziegler
    • 1
  1. 1.Humboldt University, GermanyBerlinGermany