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A construct validation study : verbal, behavioral and personality components of assertion and aggression MacIsaac, Helen Marian

Abstract

Within the theoretical and experimental literature, there is a lack of agreement among professionals as to how assertion should be conceptualized, defined, measured, and as to the actual components comprising assertion. The same is true for the construct of aggression. This study addressed the issue of identification of the components of assertion and aggression in order to provide construct clarification. The first objective of the study was to identify the verbal, behavioral and personality components of each hypothetical construct. To address this, a sample of Canadian assertiveness trainers/researchers was first identified, then surveyed. A scale was constructed which contained descriptors intended to represent assertion and aggression, presented without situational contexts. The final version of the scale consisted of 104 items clustered in four facets: Verbal Behavior Behavioral Components, Personality Traits and Verbal Statements. Several unassertive items were added to each facet to serve as markers. Two hundred and ninety-three assertiveness trainers/researchers were sent the final scale, and asked to judge each descriptor as to its degree of construct representation. The second objective of this study was to provide evidence of construct validity for assertion and aggression. Validity evidence for the scale and the constructs was provided from several sources. First, items for the scale were derived from a review of the theoretical and experimental literature on assertion and aggression, providing necessary content validity. Second, a group of assertiveness trainers/researchers knowledgeable of the constructs, judged each scale item as to its degree of construct representation. Strong evidence of construct validity was provided by Hotellings T² statistics, which showed that 93 of 98 items functioned as expected and were significant at the .05 level of significance. The results of multidimensional scaling confirmed that items which differentiated assertion and aggression could also he meaningfully represented spatially. The third objective of the study was to contribute information as to the nature of relationship between assertion and aggression. The Hotellings T² analysis indicated that trainers/researchers perceived the components comprising assertion very differently from those constituting aggression. That the items representing each construct clustered in meaningful groups within each facet leads to the conclusion that the constructs were perceived as being substantially different from each other. The results suggested that both constructs are seen as encompassing a variety of verbal and behavioral components, as well as associated personality traits. The constructs are not entirely independent, however, as indicated by the correlations between Assertion and Aggression dimensions derived from multidimensional scaling. The fourth objective of the study concerned the validation of the operational definitions proposed for each construct. The obtained results provided strong validity evidence for these definitions. The fifth objective concerned the development of a self-report scale based on those components which were shown to empirically distinguish the constructs. A stable and broad base for constructing such an instrument was provided.

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