In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Markus Eronen (University of Groningen) will give a talk on “Causal complexity and psychological measurement“.

The seminar takes place in hybrid format in person and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 27th of February 2023. To join the seminar, please contact for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.


First, I will defend a causal approach to measurement: valid measurement involves establishing a causal relationship between the property that is measured (e.g., temperature) and the measurement outcome (e.g., thermometer readings). Next, I will argue that this leads to formidable obstacles to the valid measurement of psychological attributes (e.g., happiness, emotions): (1) The causal structure of psychology is extremely complex, which makes establishing the required causal relationships very difficult, (2) psychological constructs are usually not sufficiently clearly conceptualized, and (3) psychological states are difficult to directly intervene on, and effects of interventions are hard to reliably track. One upshot of this is that in order to improve the validity of psychological measurement, psychologists and psychometricians need to pay more attention to causal modeling and conceptual issues.

Author bio:

​​​​​​​Markus Eronen is an assistant professor in the Department of Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Groningen. He received his PhD at the University of Osnabrück (Germany) in 2010, and his previous positions include a postdoctoral fellowship of the Research Council Flanders (FWO), a visiting scholarship at UC Davis, and assistant professor at the department of Theory and History of Psychology at the University of Groningen. His research is focused on causal discovery and downward causation, levels and the nature of hierarchical organization, and the role of theory in psychology. For more, see