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Encyclopedia Entry

Face Validity

Robert F. Bornstein

Face validity is an estimate of the degree to which a measure is clearly and unambiguously tapping the construct it purports to assess. Thus, face validity refers to the “obviousness” of a test—the degree to which the purpose of the test is apparent to those taking it. Tests wherein the purpose is clear, even to naïve respondents, are said to have high face validity ; tests wherein the purpose is unclear have low face validity (Nevo, 1985). The concept of face validity is similar to item subtlety , but there are important differences as well. Whereas face validity describes the transparency of an entire test, item subtlety describes the transparency of individual test items (Bornstein, Rossner, Hill, & Stepanian, 1994). ...

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