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J Psychopathol Behav Assess. 2015 Jun;37(2):306-317. Epub 2014 Sep 5.

Assessing the Straightforwardly-Worded Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale for Differential Item Functioning Across Gender and Ethnicity.

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Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA.
Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA.
Department of Psychology, Ohio University, Athens, OH, USA.
Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA.


The Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (BFNE; Leary Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 9, 371-375, 1983) assesses fear and worry about receiving negative evaluation from others. Rodebaugh et al. Psychological Assessment, 16, 169-181, (2004) found that the BFNE is composed of a reverse-worded factor (BFNE-R) and straightforwardly-worded factor (BFNE-S). Further, they found the BFNE-S to have better psychometric properties and provide more information than the BFNE-R. Currently there is a lack of research regarding the measurement invariance of the BFNE-S across gender and ethnicity with respect to item thresholds. The present study uses item response theory (IRT) to test the BFNE-S for differential item functioning (DIF) related to gender and ethnicity (White, Asian, and Black). Six data sets consisting of clinical, community, and undergraduate participants were utilized (N=2,109). The factor structure of the BFNE-S was confirmed using categorical confirmatory factor analysis, IRT model assumptions were tested, and the BFNE-S was evaluated for DIF. Item nine demonstrated significant non-uniform DIF between White and Black participants. No other items showed significant uniform or non-uniform DIF across gender or ethnicity. Results suggest the BFNE-S can be used reliably with men and women and Asian and White participants. More research is needed to understand the implications of using the BFNE-S with Black participants.


Differential item functioning; Fear of negative evaluation; Item response theory; Measurement invariance; Social anxiety disorder

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