The last ten years have seen a dramatic increase in the active testing of theories in Economics and Behavioural Science informed policy through field trials and specially designed surveys. Along with this has come an appreciation of the difficulties of directly measuring economic concepts. In this presentation, I draw from work at Stirling and the wider literature to illustrate some of the key challenges for measurement in economic and evaluation contexts, including: how do we account for the fact that people have different standards and expectations when interpreting self-report questions?; how do we measure well-being and what are the implications of different determinants of alternative well-being measures?; how do we measure risk, time and ambiguity preferences and why might these measures be useful in the context of field trials?; how do we link economic preferences to psychometric measures of personality and self-control?; what problems arise when we measure expenditure, consumption and other "objective" economic indicators and how might these be addressed?; what role should biomarkers play in studies of decisions and health?; how might day reconstruction methods aid in the process of understanding mechanisms of action in field trials and other contexts? On a more basic level, the presentation will also address some fundamental measurement problems such as the potential for measurement to change behaviour; the possibility of publication bias arising from multiple measures being employed; and the wider consequences of measurement responding to agency pressures rather than priorities of truth and importance. The presentation aims to give a broad overview of key measurement contexts and to point to potentially useful material for people grappling with these issues.Also here are some other links I promised to send various people. I am thinking and researching a lot in this broad area at the moment and welcome opportunities to discuss this with people online and offline.
1. Details of our ESRC Seminar series on Behavioural Science and Measurement are available on this link. We have run sessions on well-being, cohort studies, personality/preferences and novel data collections methods. We will run one this coming Friday (27th February 2015) on biomarkers in social science. We are also in the process of writing various follow-ups to the grant that funded this series and welcome suggestions for collaboration.
2. Here is a detailed reading list on measurement from a previous session I ran on this a few years ago. This includes readings on topics such as: threshold effects in self-reporting; measuring personality and economic preferences; measuring subjective well-being and health; and a variety of other topics that might be of interest.
Upcoming (Please email if you want further details).
ESRC/Stirling Workshop on Biomarkers in Behavioural Science Friday 27th February.
Stirling MSc Group: Tuesday 3rd March 11am
Stirling MSc Group: Tuesday 10th March 11am
BIT lunchtime session Friday 20th March
Sydney Economics Department (x 2) in May. Dates TBA.