Criminology: Scaling and Index Construction

Subject: Law
Pages: 2
Words: 557
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: Master

This paper is a review of chapter 10 – “Scaling and Index Construction.” The chapter’s objectives include describing how scales and indexes are applied in quantitative measurement, detailing the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) index as an arbitrary scale, and discussing the three major types of attitudes. The author starts by highlighting the four major levels through which variables can be measured – nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio. According to XXXX (Year), scaling procedures involve “attempts to increase the complexity of the level of measurement of variables from nominal to at least ordinal and hopefully interval/ratio” (p. 225). Arbitrary scales are also discussed together with their use, which is to provide a rough estimate of a concept. The UCR as an arbitrary scale is highlighted and some of the offenses, which are measured using this index, include homicide, larceny, forcible rape, car theft, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, and arson. According to the author, the three major attitude scales used in criminology and criminal justice are Thurstone scales, Likert scales, and Guttman scales.

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Other scaling procedures given in this chapter include Q Sort and Sherman et al.’s scientific methods scale. The author also discusses semantic differential before detailing crime seriousness scales, such as the Selling-Wolfgang index. Predictions scales, which attempt to forecast crime commission or success or failure of probation/parole, are also included in this chapter. Towards the end, the author highlights some career criminal programs, such as the Repeat Offender’s Project (ROP) – mainly used in Washington DC whereby Metropolitan police use criminal informants and other sources to identify those involved in crime. The author also gives the advantages and disadvantages of using scales in criminology before giving a summary of the entire chapter.

  1. A researcher is allowed to make arbitrary scales based on his or her judgment. The UCR is a good example of arbitrary scales.
  2. One major limitation of UCR is that it does not consider the relative seriousness of different crimes.
  3. The three major forms of attitude scales are Guttman, Likert, and Thurstone.
  4. The semantic differential scale was initially developed in linguistics, but it has increasingly been used in criminology whereby respondents are asked to give their perception of a given concept.
  5. One major advantage of using scales is that they give composite and exact measurements. Additionally, scales “lend themselves to longitudinal assessment and replication studies and force more rigorous thinking on the part of the investigator” (XXXX, year, p. 244).
  6. A great disadvantage of scales is that the measurements taken are superficial and the critical question as to whether people think in scale patterns.
  7. The author concludes that while scales are important in criminology and criminal justice, they should not substitute good theoretical and substantive understanding of the subject being investigated.

The chapter is well written using simple language that could be understood by a wide audience of readers even those not studying criminology. The author gives many examples of how the different scales are used in research. Additionally, the chapter is divided into clear sub-topics to allow the reader to follow the various arguments. Similarly, the author is objective in his analysis, which explains why he gives the advantages and disadvantages of using scales. However, the author does not reference the claims made throughout the chapter, which affects the credibility and reliability of the information presented.


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