A procedural note on the measurement of broad dispositions


  • The preparation of this manuscript and the research reported in it were supported by National Institute of Mental Health Research Grant MH-01293. I wish to express my appreciation to Peter Schmolck, who drew my attention to a self-contradictory statement that I had made and that provided the impetus for writing this note, and to Ronald Hambleton and James Averill for their helpful comments on an earlier draft. Requests for reprints should be sent to Seymour Epstein, Psychology Department, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003


This article deals with the selection of items in a self-report test that measures a broad trait. There is an inherent conflict between selecting items that maximize internal consistency and ones that contribute to breadth. Alternative procedures, including criterion keying, combining homogeneous subscales, and construction of scales with divergent items with modest relations to the whole scale scores, were discussed. Although not included among recommended procedures by modern test theory, the latter approach has much to recommend it under appropriate circumstances. The discussion of psychometric principles was generalized to the person-situation debate.