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    TitleA Reflection on the Usage of Difference Scores: The Discussion on Reliability, Interpretation, Construct Meaning, and Measurement Equivalence
    Issue No.10
    Publish Date2001-10
    Author NameHsin-Hua Hsiung
    AbstractDifference scores are widely used in social science researches and are aimed to evaluate the consistency between constructs. However, there are some methodological controversies regarding the usage of this research method. These controversies are categorized in four aspects: reliability, interpretation, construct meaning, and the measurement equivalence of the differ ence scores. This study attempts to show that the degrees of urgency of the problems encountered in these four aspects are not the same. It varies in different kinds of difference scores. For instance, if the study is focused on measuring change by time, then the researcher should focus on the aspect of reliability. Fortunately, this problem is not very serious. On the other hand, if the study is meant to measure different subjects and different constructs, then the researcher must deal with the problems in all four aspects. Although problems as to the usage of difference scores exist, it is still imperative for some studies. This paper tries to provide some ways to lessen the amount of difficulties involved and evaluates them. There do possess, however, other alternatives that researchers may avail of, such as “ latent growth modeling",“differential item functioning",“direct comparison", and “ response surface model". These methods have their unique application contexts. Thus, researchers may think twice on difference scores in order to apply them properly in studies.
    Keywordsdifference scores; reliability; measurement equivalence; latent growth modeling; response surface model
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