ERIC Number: EJ787687
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Effects of Estimation Methods on Making Trait-Level Inferences from Ordered Categorical Items for Assessing Psychopathology
Dumenci, Levent; Achenbach, Thomas M.
Psychological Assessment, v20 n1 p55-62 Mar 2008
In assessments of attitudes, personality, and psychopathology, unidimensional scale scores are commonly obtained from Likert scale items to make inferences about individuals' trait levels. This study approached the issue of how best to combine Likert scale items to estimate test scores from the practitioner's perspective: Does it really matter which method is used to estimate a trait? Analyses of 3 data sets indicated that commonly used methods could be classified into 2 groups: methods that explicitly take account of the ordered categorical item distributions (i.e., partial credit and graded response models of item response theory, factor analysis using an asymptotically distribution-free estimator) and methods that do not distinguish Likert-type items from continuously distributed items (i.e., total score, principal component analysis, maximum-likelihood factor analysis). Differences in trait estimates were found to be trivial within each group. Yet the results suggested that inferences about individuals' trait levels differ considerably between the 2 groups. One should therefore choose a method that explicitly takes account of item distributions in estimating unidimensional traits from ordered categorical response formats. Consequences of violating distributional assumptions were discussed.
Descriptors: Psychopathology, Likert Scales, Measures (Individuals), Factor Analysis, Inferences, Item Response Theory, Evaluation Methods, Scores, Tests, Personality Measures, Attitude Measures
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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