The Construct Validity of Differential Response Latencies in Structured Personality Tests

Article excerpt

Abstract

This research demonstrates that differential latencies for responding to persona lity test items contain interpretable information. In particular, we show that differential res ponse latencies are a meaningful indicator of the presence of a trait. A total of 92 subjects respo nded to a series of microcomputerized personality test items reflecting four different traits on each of four occasions. Estimates of internal consistency, parallel forms reliability and te st - retest stability suggested that the reliability of the response latencies was modest. Nonetheles s, differential response latencies showed excellent convergent validity for corresponding trait level measures, such as scale scores, self - ratings and peer ratings, and excellent discriminan t validity for irrelevant trait level measures. Moreover, as predicted, the latencies for endo rsing trait relevant items were negatively related to trait level measures whereas the latencies for rejecting items were positively related. Differential response latencies had no tendency to gro up together as a method factor. Rather, the pattern of convergent and discriminant relationships generalized across all four retest sessions. These results support the interpretation of dif ferential latencies for responding to test items as a construct valid way of assessing the strength of a trait.

Resume

Cette recherche montre que les latences differentielles de reponse a des items d e tests de personnalite renferment de l'information interpretable. Plus precisement, no us demontrons que ces latences sont un indicateur important de la presence d'un tra it de personnalite. Au total, 92 sujets ont repondu a une serie d'items de tests de personnalite sur micro - ordinateur visant a faire ressortir quatre differents t raits a chacune des quatre seances de tests. Les estimations relatives a la constance i nterne, a la fiabilite des formes paralleles et a la stabilite de la technique tests - ret ests portent a croire que la fiabilite des latences de reponse est modeste. Pourtant, les la tences de reponse differentielles revelent une excellente validite convergente dans le cas des mesures quantitatives des traits pertinents, telles que les resultats obtenus d' apres echelle, les auto - evaluations et les evaluations parles pairs, et une excelle nte validite discriminante dans le cas des mesures quantitatives des traits non pert inents. Par ailleurs, comme predit, les latences dans le cas ou les sujets adherent a des it ems correspondant a des traits pertinents sont negativement reliees aux mesures quan titatives des traits, tandis que les latences dans le cas ou les sujets rejettent certains items sont positivement reliees. Les latences de reponse differentielles n'ont pas tendanc e a former un facteur de methode. Plutot, on remarque des liens generalises de convergence et de discrimination tout au long des quatre seances de retests. Ce s resultats confirment l'interpretation selon laquelle les latences differentielles de repon se a des items de tests constituent un moyen conceptuel valide d'evaluer la force d'un tr ait.

Anyone who has ever administered a structured personality test will know that so me respondents take an exceptionally long time to respond to certain test items. From a neomen talistic perspective, the latency associated with making judgements about the self has be en considered a behavioural representation of a cognitive process (Paivio, 1975). Test item r esponse latencies, thus, may be interpretable within a cognitive framework. With the advent of mic rocomputerized testing, collecting individuals' item response latencies is a small matter. Unf ortunately, response latencies constitute very messy data (Fazio, 1990). Whether response latencies to structured personality test items, in fact, can be interpreted as a meaningful individual d ifference variable is unclear from the existing literature. The purpose of this paper is: a) to de monstrate empirically that differential, as opposed to raw, latencies for responding to st ructured personality test items have construct validity for assessing the presence of a trait; and b) to argue that differential response latencies may indeed be understood within a cognitive psyc hological framework. …