Fitting Item Response Theory Models to Two Personality Inventories: Issues and Insights

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The present study compared the fit of several IRT models to two personality assessment instruments. Data from 13,059 individuals responding to the US-English version of the Fifth Edition of the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) and 1,770 individuals responding to Goldberg's 50 item Big Five Personality measure were analyzed. Various issues pertaining to the fit of the IRT models to personality data were considered. We examined two of the most popular parametric models designed for dichotomously scored items (i.e., the two- and three-parameter logistic models) and a parametric model for polytomous items (Samejima's graded response model). Also examined were Levine's nonparametric maximum likelihood formula scoring models for dichotomous and polytomous data, which were previously found to provide good fits to several cognitive ability tests (Drasgow, Levine, Tsien, Williams, & Mead, 1995). The two- and three-parameter logistic models fit some scales reasonably well but not others; the graded response model generally did not fit well. The nonparametric formula scoring models provided the best fit of the models considered. Several implications of these findings for personality measurement and personnel selection were described.

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Multivariate Behavioral Research, v. 36, issue 4, p. 523-562