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Discriminant validity where there should be none: positioning same-scale items in separated blocks of a questionnaire

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Abstract
In questionnaires, items can be presented in a grouped format (same-scale items are presented in the same block) or in a randomized format (items from one scale are mixed with items from other scales). Some researchers have advocated the grouped format because it enhances discriminant validity. The current study demonstrates that positioning items in separate blocks of a questionnaire may indeed lead to increased discriminant validity, but this can happen even in instances where discriminant validity should not be present. In particular, the authors show that splitting an established unidimensional scale into two arbitrary blocks of items separated by unrelated buffer items results in the emergence of two clearly identifiable but artificial factors that show discriminant validity.
Keywords
VARIABLES, FORMAT, STABILITY, RELIABILITY, ACQUIESCENCE, STYLE, CONVERGENT, confirmatory factor analysis, discriminant validity, grouping (survey) items, inter-item correlation, randomizing (survey) items, response styles, survey methods

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Weijters, Bert, Alain De Beuckelaer, and Hans Baumgartner. 2014. “Discriminant Validity Where There Should Be None: Positioning Same-scale Items in Separated Blocks of a Questionnaire.” Applied Psychological Measurement 38 (6): 450–463.
APA
Weijters, B., De Beuckelaer, A., & Baumgartner, H. (2014). Discriminant validity where there should be none: positioning same-scale items in separated blocks of a questionnaire. APPLIED PSYCHOLOGICAL MEASUREMENT, 38(6), 450–463.
Vancouver
1.
Weijters B, De Beuckelaer A, Baumgartner H. Discriminant validity where there should be none: positioning same-scale items in separated blocks of a questionnaire. APPLIED PSYCHOLOGICAL MEASUREMENT. 2014;38(6):450–63.
MLA
Weijters, Bert, Alain De Beuckelaer, and Hans Baumgartner. “Discriminant Validity Where There Should Be None: Positioning Same-scale Items in Separated Blocks of a Questionnaire.” APPLIED PSYCHOLOGICAL MEASUREMENT 38.6 (2014): 450–463. Print.
@article{5815423,
  abstract     = {In questionnaires, items can be presented in a grouped format (same-scale items are presented in the same block) or in a randomized format (items from one scale are mixed with items from other scales). Some researchers have advocated the grouped format because it enhances discriminant validity. The current study demonstrates that positioning items in separate blocks of a questionnaire may indeed lead to increased discriminant validity, but this can happen even in instances where discriminant validity should not be present. In particular, the authors show that splitting an established unidimensional scale into two arbitrary blocks of items separated by unrelated buffer items results in the emergence of two clearly identifiable but artificial factors that show discriminant validity.},
  author       = {Weijters, Bert and De Beuckelaer, Alain and Baumgartner, Hans},
  issn         = {0146-6216},
  journal      = {APPLIED PSYCHOLOGICAL MEASUREMENT},
  keyword      = {VARIABLES,FORMAT,STABILITY,RELIABILITY,ACQUIESCENCE,STYLE,CONVERGENT,confirmatory factor analysis,discriminant validity,grouping (survey) items,inter-item correlation,randomizing (survey) items,response styles,survey methods},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6},
  pages        = {450--463},
  title        = {Discriminant validity where there should be none: positioning same-scale items in separated blocks of a questionnaire},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146621614531850},
  volume       = {38},
  year         = {2014},
}

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