Operational definition of variables

I have been seeing a lot of the second question examples with something like “Provide an example of the operational definition of variables in the study.”

What does this mean and how should we answer that question?

here is an easy worksheet that can help practice defining:

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You want to give a quantifiable description. For example, if you were evaluating an ADHD drug, you would need to describe what hyperactivity would look like. Often the study needs to be replicated (repeated), so you want to be specific. For example, maybe you have the subjects sitting down in desks. You operationally define “hyperactivity” for your study is “getting up three times in an hour.”.

Operational definitions are very important! Researchers use very precisely-worded definitions of each of their variables to prevent confusion and allow other researchers to follow the exact same steps in order to replicate the study.

If your hypothesis is “sleep causes happiness…” how would another group of researchers replicate this? How much sleep did you mean? Were you measuring increases to sleep, or decreases to sleep? What EXACTLY did you mean by happinness? Were you measuring heart-rate? Did you have subjects self-report how happy they felt? If so, what scale did you score them on?

That’s a lot of hypothetical questions, but hopefully it helps get the point across!

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