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Factors Defined By Negatively Keyed Items: The Result Of Careless Respondents?

N. Schmitt, Daniel M. Stuits
Published 1985 · Psychology

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A frequently occurring phenomenon in factor and cluster analysis of personality or attitude scale items is that all or nearly all questionnaire items that are nega tively keyed will define a single factor. Although sub stantive interpretations of these negative factors are usually attempted, this study demonstrates that the negative factor could be produced by a relatively small portion of the respondents who fail to attend to the negative-positive wording of the items. Data were generated using three different correlation matrices, which demonstrated that regardless of data source, when only 10% of the respondents are careless in this fashion, a clearly definable negative factor is gener ated. Recommendations for instrument development and data editing are presented.
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