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Response Style and Content Measures From Personality Inventories

Messick, Samuel J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Acquiescence, Factor Structure, Personality Measures, Response Style (Tests), Social Desirability, Test Reliability


In order to evaluate the respective contributions to personality inventory scales of consistent responses to item content on one hand and of the response styles of acquiescence and desirability on the other, factor analysis was applied to intercorrelations among content scales and stylistic measures as a potential means of separating distinct, but possibly correlated, dimensions of content and style. "True" and "false" items were scored separately for ten relatively homogeneous content scales and a measure of defensiveness. A factor analysis of intercorrelations among these 22 scores yielded eight factors -- three large ones, together accounting for about two-thirds of the common variance, and five small ones. Two measures each of the tendencies to acquiesce and to respond desirably were subsequently projected into the factor space by extension, in order to identify stylistic dimensions. Of the three large factors, two were attributable to the response styles of desirability and acquiescence, and the third, which appeared to represent a second-order content dimension of impulsive unconventionality vs. controlled conventionality, was also related to desirability variables. Some of the smaller factors were attributed to specific content dimensions, since "true" and "false" parts of single content scales dominated the loadings.

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