March 30, 2021
Assessment, Ahead of Print. The current research challenges the received view that misresponses to reversed items are the result of participants’ irrational behavior. On the contrary, for participants at a midpoint level of a trait, it is perfectly logical to agree and disagree with seemingly equivalent statements (e.g., I’m not tall, but neither am I short). For this reason, regular and reversed items for a unidimensional construct were predicted to load on separate factors. Two types of reversed items—polar opposites and negated regular items—were also predicted to load on separate factors, as they are qualitatively different. An empirical study supported this explanation. Differential responding was found to be highest for participants at the mid-level of a trait and diminished toward the ends, revealing a quadratic relationship and a trait × method interaction. Thus, our findings demonstrate that the logical response pattern of individuals at the mid-level of a trait is another previously unrecognized explanation for why the inclusion of regular and reverse-keyed items can contribute to the apparent bi-dimensionality of unidimensional constructs (for data analysis results, see
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Author: Chester Chun Seng Kam