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Dissociating indifferent, directional, and extreme responding in personality data: Applying the three-process model to self- and observer reports

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Ingo Zettler, Jonas W B Lang, Ute R Hülsheger, Benjamin E Hilbig

OBJECTIVE: Research suggests that respondents vary in their tendency to use the response scale of typical (Likert-style) questionnaires. We study the nature of the response process by applying a recently introduced item response theory modeling procedure, the three-process model, to data of self- and observer reports of personality traits. The three-process model captures indifferent, directional, and extreme responding. Substantively, we hypothesize that, and test whether, trait Honesty-Humility is negatively linked to extreme responding.

METHOD: We applied the three-process model to personality data of N = 577 dyads (self- and observer reports of the HEXACO Personality Inventory-Revised) of Dutch and German respondents.

RESULTS: First, we provide evidence that indifferent, directional, and extreme responding can be separated from each other in personality data through the use of the three-process model. Second, we show that the various response processes show a pattern of correlations across traits and rating sources which is in line with the idea that indifferent and extreme responding are person-specific tendencies, whereas directional responding is content-specific. Third, we report findings supporting the hypothesis that Honesty-Humility is negatively linked to extreme responding.

CONCLUSION: In Likert-based personality data, applying the three-process model can unveil individual differences in the response process. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)461-472
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2015

ID: 132584796