Whenever I start a new research project, I typically have to find questions and scales that have proven validity in measuring constructs of interest (e.g., psychological / political science / social science scales). This can often be quite time consuming, and often there are issues of cost and copyright to consider.


  • What are general tips for efficiently and cost effectively locating measures for a given construct?
  • Are there any databases that make it easy to locate such measures?
  • Is there anything like a StackOverflow/PatternLibrary/Best Practices compendium of measures or advice on locating measures?
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    $\begingroup$ I think there is an interesting question in here, but I think it needs major clarification: psychological measures exist on all sorts of scales; and there are plenty that pertain to issues other than mental illness; are you searching for existing tests, desired response format, or advice on developing your own tests? What do you mean by a pattern library in relation to all of this? $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2012 at 10:52
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    $\begingroup$ I hope you don't mind; As I hadn't heard from you for a day, I've applied a few edits to your question. Hopefully it still reflects what you were asking. I also think that after this tweaking, the question could be a useful resource for the site. $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2012 at 2:46
  • $\begingroup$ One of the simplest places to start is the Wikipedia category of Psychometrics $\endgroup$
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 19, 2012 at 3:21

1 Answer 1


The APA has a general tutorial on finding psychological tests with a range of tips.

Finding measures

  • PsychTESTS is a new product by the APA that aims to make it easier to find psychological tests. It is a subscription service. Thus, you would probably have to pay for it yourself or get it through a university or other body that subscribes to it
  • Read the method sections of the articles that you are incorporating in your introduction and literature review. If you are going to do research you'll need to familiarise yourself with existing research. See what measures have been used in the past.
  • Ask a question on cogsci.se: Well formulated questions asking for recommendations for measuring particular psychological constructs are welcome on this site.

Measures on a budget

  • Some tests are free to use. Academics and others often make such tests available on their website (e.g., the IPIP).
  • For tests developed by academics, you can often just contact the academic by email and ask for permission to use the test. Be clear, be polite, be professional. In some cases they might ask that you share any data from the test with them.
  • For commercial tests, you may wish to contact the publishers to find out whether they permit free or discounted use for research purposes.

Whether to create your own test

Also as a general point, there is often a decision between whether to buy a test or build your own. Sometimes, the construct being measured is sufficiently novel, that there is no existing measure. However, if the construct does have an established and validated measure, there are strong arguments to use it. Building a well validated psychological test takes substantial time and resources.


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