Articles

Scaling Data on Inter-Nation Action

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Science  26 May 1967:
Vol. 156, Issue 3778, pp. 1054-1059
DOI: 10.1126/science.156.3778.1054

Abstract

We conclude (i) that the marker-card method is as reliable a measure as the ordinary Q-sort method; (ii) that Q and the marker-card score are measuring very nearly the same thing—in this case, presumably conflict; and (iii) that the use of marker cards permits comparison of judgments about a given quantity in the context of different situations and may even permit comparison of results obtained by different research teams if the different teams use the same marker decks.

A fundamental issue involved in scoring the entries on the cards in this study by either Q-sort or marker cards is the "judgability" of the items as indicators of conflict. We noted above that items with the highest variances in scoring, from judge to judge, were concentrated at the low-conflict end of the scale. A possible explanation is that judges are able to make finer distinctions concerning an attribute when it is present than when it is absent. Differences in scoring could also arise from a lack of unidimensionality in the attribute being scaled. If juidges find that conflict has several distinct aspects, the task of placing items in a single order becomes more difficult.

Difficulties in making judgments also arose from the fact that the actions were being judged out of context, or in contexts that varied from judge to judge, since no standard context was supplied. But these difficulties lie outside our problem, which was to find an alternative to Q-sorting which would permit intersituational comparisons. Our sLIccess in finding an alternative is apparent in our results, but problems of judgability remain with both techniques.

Beyond providing a standard for intersitLiational comparisons, the markercard technique has other advantages. It is possible that the use of marker decks will be of help in training judges to score such a variable as conflict. In our study it permitted identification of a judge inadequately trained to do so. Possibly the marker cards will be useful in assigning scale values to hatches of data too small for Q-sort, or even to individual items. It further appears that the marker cards should be useful in discriminating among highconflict items which heretofore would all have tended to appear in the top Q-sort category.

The marker-card technique has given us a reliable alternative to Q-sort for scaling conflict. The method should be capable of extension to dimensions other than conflict.