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 negatively
keyed will define a single factor. Although substantive
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 generated.
Recommendations for instrument development
and data editing are presented.
Schmitt, Neal & Stults, Daniel M. (1985). Factors defined by negatively keyed items: The result of careless respondents? Applied Psychological Measurement, 9, 367-373. doi:10.1177/014662168500900405
Schmitt, Neal; Stults, Daniel M..
Factors defined by negatively keyed items: The result of careless respondents?.
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