Send to

Choose Destination
Psychol Methods. 2003 Jun;8(2):206-24.

Beyond alpha: an empirical examination of the effects of different sources of measurement error on reliability estimates for measures of individual differences constructs.

Author information

Department of Management and Organizations, Henry B Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


On the basis of an empirical study of measures of constructs from the cognitive domain, the personality domain, and the domain of affective traits, the authors of this study examine the implications of transient measurement error for the measurement of frequently studied individual differences variables. The authors clarify relevant reliability concepts as they relate to transient error and present a procedure for estimating the coefficient of equivalence and stability (L. J. Cronbach, 1947), the only classical reliability coefficient that assesses all 3 major sources of measurement error (random response, transient, and specific factor errors). The authors conclude that transient error exists in all 3 trait domains and is especially large in the domain of affective traits. Their findings indicate that the nearly universal use of the coefficient of equivalence (Cronbach's alpha; L. J. Cronbach, 1951), which fails to assess transient error, leads to overestimates of reliability and undercorrections for biases due to measurement error.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association
Loading ...
Support Center