The notion of validity: external vs. internal

Theodore Anderson's picture
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
The notion of validity: external vs. internal

The notion of validity has interested me for quite awhile now. The reason why validity has interested me is because I am intrigued by human behavior, and why people act the way they do. In this post, I will explain the notions of external vs. internal validity, the underlying reasons for the two notions, and the great significance and ramifications of living your life based on indulging in these types of validity.

Internal validity in terms of social psychology is an underlying principle which says that one derives validity through ones own accomplishments, self-esteem, self-worth, and self-concept. Through all of these, one begins to build his self-created schema, and ultimately develops a durable identity that is hard to shake. Internal validity is important to one's success and outlook on life, and is necessary to create individuality and character within the man or woman.

External validity in terms of social psychology is an underlying principle which says that one derives validity through external sources, such as friends, family, or superficial or materialistic goods and complements. External validity then, is not dealing with true, authentic self-esteem, but rather false and superficial self-esteem and self-concept. What I mean to say is that external validity is a way of pumping up your ego through external sources, and is often a very temporal solution to your problem.

Let's look at some examples. A woman goes out to a bar, dressed up, makeup and all, and gets lots of looks (external validation) from men around her. However, before she went out to the bar, she gave herself internal validation through self-coaching and self-analyzing her looks, confidence, and personality. Thus, we can deduce here that external validation is extremely redundant, and can lead to disappointing and pernicious consequences. A guy goes up to a girl, strikes up conversation, and she quickly tells him that she is not interested, or that she has a boyfriend. A mature man responds in such a way that is calm, cool, and collected (Alright, cool, nice to meet you), whereas a man that is not mature, and gets all of his validation externally, will take the rejection personally, and see it as an attack on his character. And this is absolutely crazy! Think about you. You just met this girl ten minutes ago, and before that, you did not care one bit what she thought about you, and now, after the rejection, you are destroyed and completely sunk emotionally. Once you begin to think logically, and can self-analyze prior situations, you will begin to see that by acquiring internal validity, you will know that it was not a personal attack on your character, but rather, a simple numbers game and nothing more. 

Now, let's wrap things up. Ultimately, we have talked about the two different ideas of validity, and now after having read this article, one can start to apply these ideas and philosophies to his or her lifestyle. The notion of external vs. internal validity is one in which I hope you begin to really internalize and examine your own character and personality, and begin to be less and less affected and concerned with how others see you. 

I will leave you with a quote that I think is very relevant to this post, and may it guide you in the right direction.


"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."-Eleanor Roosevelt