A conceptual and psychometric framework for distinguishing categories and dimensions

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Title: A conceptual and psychometric framework for distinguishing categories and dimensions
Author: De Boeck, Paul; Leuven, K. U.; Wilson, Mark; Acton, G. Scott
Abstract: An important, sometimes controversial feature of all psychological phenomena is whether they are categorical or dimensional. A conceptual and psychometric framework is described for distinguishing whether the latent structure behind manifest categories (e.g., psychiatric diagnoses, attitude groups, or stages of development) is category-like or dimension-like. Being dimension-like requires (a) within-category heterogeneity and (b) between-category quantitative differences. Being category-like requires (a) within-category homogeneity and (b) between-category qualitative differences. The relation between this classification and abrupt versus smooth differences is discussed. Hybrid structures are possible. Being category-like is itself a matter of degree; the authors offer a formalized framework to determine this degree. Empirical applications to personality disorders, attitudes toward capital punishment, and stages of cognitive development illustrate the approach.
Description: RIT community members may access full-text via RIT Libraries licensed databases: http://library.rit.edu/databases/
Record URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1850/1131
Publishers URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.112.1.129
Date: 2005

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