Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
S. Kim MacGregor
An operational definition articulates the operations, processes, or actions of a concept that are necessary to identify examples of it. As a starting point, a construct or variable may be defined with a dictionary-type constitutive definition in which the term is defined in relationship to other concepts. From this, more extensive definitions can be generated, including those of the operational, descriptive, programmatic, and normative types. While the notion of operational definitions emerged from the field of physical science, it became clear that operational definitions could enhance inquiry in all fields. The goal of an operational definition is to provide a framework for the development and selection of instruments to measure a particular concept or variable. For example, creativity might be defined constitutively as a fluent, vivid imagination, which can be used in accomplishing tasks. An operational definition of creativity might be “as measured by how original a picture and how ...