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The European Journal of Psychiatry

Print version ISSN 0213-6163


JONGE, Peter de  and  SLAETS, Joris PJ. Response sets in self-report data and their associations with personality traits. Eur. J. Psychiat. [online]. 2005, vol.19, n.4, pp.209-214. ISSN 0213-6163.

Objective: With a strong reliance on the use of self-report questionnaires in psychiatric research, appropriate attention should be given to the existence and correlates of response sets. We studied the presence of response tendencies by using an old research paradigm from psychology. Methods: We administered response options without questions to a sample of 91 second-year medical students, together with two personality questionnaires. Results: The scores of the respondents demonstrated the willingness of respondents to fill in a content-free questionnaire and revealed the presence of a general tendency towards positive responses. In psychometric theory, this would be referred to as a 'constant error'. More importantly, positive answers were significantly related to low neuroticism, high extraversion and high well-being. In psychometric theory, this would imply 'response bias' in which the self-reports are confounded by personality features. Conclusions: In the development and evaluation of questionnaires, researchers should be aware of the potential for this bias, particularly when asking questions about subjective health status.

Keywords : Self-report; Questionnaire; Bias; Confounding; Neuroticism.

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