Psy 401 - Personality Research Methods  Dr. John A. Johnson
Instructions for Third Lab Project: Due November 24, 1998



  1. To demonstrate an understanding of item-response dynamics by identifying both straightforward and subtle items for a new personality scale.
  2. To demonstrate knowledge that scale development and construct validation are forms of hypothesis testing by suggesting criteria for evaluating the new scale.
  3. To demonstrate an understanding of the five-factor model (FFM) by making predictions about relationships between the new scale and the FFM.


  1. Download and read the experimental personality inventory at .
  2. After examining the experimental inventory, think of a personality trait that you would like to measure using a set of the items from this inventory. You may choose any trait other than one of the five broad dimensions of the five-factor model (FFM) or "Big 5": Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, or Intellect/Openness. If you have trouble thinking of a personality trait that you would like to measure, you can browse through the personality journals we used in the first lab exercise and/or talk to other students about ideas. In any case, it may be useful to talk with others to get their reactions. Keep in mind that the trait you choose should be one on which you expect to find some individual differences in a relatively homogeneous group of Penn State psychology majors.
  3. After thinking and talking about personality traits and settling upon one, write a short paragraph that defines and describes the trait. Put some thought into this description, for it is the guide for identifying appropriate scale items. This trait description should be framed in terms of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of persons who are high and/or low on your trait dimension. See, for example, Snyder's description of a "high self-monitoring individual" on page 113 of the Briggs and Cheek article.
  4. Identify 24 items from the experimental inventory that you think might measure the personality trait you have chosen. At least 12 of these items should follow specific guidelines for item-writing that appear in Wolfe's (1993) chapter article. To complete your 24-item set, you should also identify between 1-12 items in accordance with Johnson's (1997) sociolinguistic model of item responding.

Information to Submit By Email

Send the requested information or answers to the questions to me,, by email.
  1. Submit the one-paragraph description of the trait you wish to measure.
  2. List separately the items following Wolfe's guidelines and the items following Johnson's guidelines. Explain why you think the items in the first set meet Wolfe's guidelines and why they would assess the trait you are interested in measuring. Explain what makes the second set of items sociolinguistic and explain why you think these items would assess the trait you are interested in measuring.
  3. Describe some hypotheses about the kinds of Life Event and Observer Rating data that you think your scale might predict. Describe the theory(ies) underlying your predictions.
  4. Hypothesize how scores on your scale will correlate with the Big 5. From what theory(ies) did you derive your hypotheses?