Operational Definition

By Renée Grinnell

Identifies one or more specific, observable events or conditions such that any other researcher can independently measure and/or test for them.

Example: A researcher measuring happiness and depression in college students decides to use a ten-question happiness scale to measure positive outlook in her subjects. In other words, her operational definition of happiness in this case is a given subject’s score on the test.

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Mar 2009