5. Dimensions, sub-dimensions, and indicators

What are dimensions and sub-dimensions of concepts?

Specific areas related to the main concept but having an emphasis on some specific quality differentiating it from the main concept. For example, progressiveness or conservatism can hold social, cultural, or political dimensions. Sub-dimensions are a further refining into related but specific areas of a dimension of a concept. Social progressiveness/conservatism: progressive/conservative parenting styles.

Why is it important for survey design to discern dimensions and sub-dimensions of concepts?

So as to properly identify the relevant components of a concept associated with the research leading to accurate question construction and valid and reliable data.

After identifying a number of dimensions and sub-dimensions of concepts relevant to your research, would you use all of them in designing a survey? Why or why not?

After considering the theory, context, and purpose of the research, you then make a decision on which dimensions and sub-dimensions are relevant. Quite often not all dimensions or sub-dimensions will be relevant. Also surveys need to be kept to a length that does not overly burden the respondent so some dimensions and sub-dimensions could be cut for this reason also.

What is an indicator?

An indicator is a question or a measure in a survey.

What is the process of converting concepts into indicators called?


What are the two main concerns associated with indicator development? Why are they important?

Validity and reliability. Validity is important because a survey question needs to measure exactly what it is supposed to measure, and reliability is important so that the measure can be assessed as valid over time.

What are other key concerns with indicator development for a survey?

Double/triple-barrel questions, ambiguity, verbosity, recall and knowledge, leading questions.