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J Pers Assess. 2002 Jun;78(3):461-83.

Response styles in affect ratings: making a mountain out of a molehill.

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Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Erindale College, Mississauga Ontario, Canada.


Ratings of affect words are the most commonly used method to assess pleasant affect (PA) and unpleasant affect (UA). The reliance on self-reports would be problematic if affect ratings were heavily influenced by response styles. Several recent publications have indeed suggested (a) that the influence of response styles on affect ratings is pervasive, (b) that this influence can be controlled by variations of the response format using multitrait-multimethod models, and (c) the discriminant validity of PA and UA is spurious. In this article, we examined the evidence for these claims. We demonstrate that (a) response styles have a negligible effect on affect ratings, (b) multiple response formats produce the same results as a single response format, and (c) the discriminant validity of PA and UA is not a method artifact. Rather, evidence against discriminant validity is due to the use of inappropriate response formats that respondents interpreted as bipolar scales.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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