Measurement of alienation among adolescents: construct validity of three scales on powerlessness, meaninglessness and social isolation

Signe Boe Rayce, Svend Kreiner, Mogens Trab Damsgaard, Tine Nielsen, Bjørn Evald Holstein

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftsartikelForskningpeer review


Psychological alienation is an important concept in the study of adolescents’ health and behavior but no gold standard for measuring alienation among adolescents exists. There is a need for new scales with high validity for use in adolescent health and social research. The purpose of the present study was to develop and validate alienation scales in accordance with Seeman’s conceptualization of alienation focusing on three independent variants specifically relevant in adolescent health research: powerlessness, meaninglessness and social isolation.
Cross-sectional data from 3083 adolescents aged 13 to 15 years from the Danish contribution to the cross-national study Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) were used. We identified and developed items, addressed content and face validity through interviews, and examined the criterion-related construct validity of the scales using graphical loglinear Rasch models (GLLRM).
The three scales each comprised three to five face valid items. The powerlessness scale reflected the adolescent’s expectancy as to whether his/her behavior can determine the outcome or reinforcement he/she seeks. The meaninglessness scale reflected the expectancy as to whether satisfactory predictions regarding the effects of one’s behavior are possible. Finally, the social isolation scale reflected whether the adolescent had a low expectancy for inclusion and social acceptance. All scales contained some uniform local dependency and differential item functioning. However, only to a limited degree, which could be accounted for using GLLRM. Thus the scales fitted GLLRMs and can therefore be considered to be essentially construct valid and essentially objective.
The three alienation scales appear to be content and face valid and fulfill the psychometric properties of a good construct valid reflective scale. This suggests that the scales may be appropriate in future large-scale surveys to examine the relation between alienation and a range of adolescent health outcomes such as health, behavior and wellbeing.
TidsskriftJournal of Patient-Reported Outcomes
Sider (fra-til)1-12
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - 23 mar. 2018
Udgivet eksterntJa


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