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Short Assessment of the Big Five: Robust Across Survey Methods Except Telephone Interviewing


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  • Lang, Frieder R.
  • John, Dennis
  • Lüdtke, Oliver
  • Schupp, Jürgen
  • Wagner, Gert G.


We examined measurement invariance and age-related robustness of a short 15-item Big Five Inventory (BFI–S) of personality dimensions, which is well suited for applications in large-scale multidisciplinary surveys. The BFI–S was assessed in three different interviewing conditions: computer-assisted or paper-assisted face-to-face interviewing, computer-assisted telephone interviewing, and a self-administered questionnaire. Randomized probability samples from a large-scale German panel survey and a related probability telephone study were used in order to test method effects on self-report measures of personality characteristics across early, middle, and late adulthood. Exploratory structural equation modeling was used in order to test for measurement invariance of the five-factor model of personality trait domains across different assessment methods. For the short inventory, findings suggest strong robustness of self-report measures of personality dimensions among young and middle-aged adults. In old age, telephone interviewing was associated with greater distortions in reliable personality assessment. It is concluded that the greater mental workload of telephone interviewing limits the reliability of self-report personality assessment. Face-to-face surveys and self-administrated questionnaire completion are clearly better suited than phone surveys when personality traits in age-heterogeneous samples are assessed. --

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by ZBW - German National Library of Economics in its journal EconStor Open Access Articles.

Volume (Year): (2011-06)
Issue (Month): ()
Pages: 548-567

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Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:71760

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Keywords: Big Five; Personality; Survey method; Face-to-face; Telephone interview; Self-administrated questionnaire; Exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM);


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  1. Ledyard Tucker & Charles Lewis, 1973. "A reliability coefficient for maximum likelihood factor analysis," Psychometrika, Springer, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 1-10, March.
  2. Frieder R. Lang & Paul B. Baltes & Gert G. Wagner, 2007. "Desired Lifetime and End-of-Life Desires Across Adulthood From 20 to 90: A Dual-Source Information Model," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 62(5), pages P268-P276.
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Cited by:
  1. Hille, Adrian & Schupp, Jürgen, 2013. "How learning a musical instrument affects the development of skills," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79801, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  2. Marco Caliendo & Frank M. Fossen & Alexander S. Kritikos, 2011. "Personality Characteristics and the Decision to Become and Stay Self-Employed," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 369, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Santi Budria & Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2013. "Income Comparisons and Non-Cognitive Skills," Working Papers 733, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  4. Marco Caliendo & Frank Fossen & Alexander Kritikos & Miriam Wetter, 2014. "The Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship: Not Just a Matter of Personality," CESifo Working Paper Series 4803, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Blaufus, Kay & Zinowsky, Tim, 2013. "Investigating the determinants of experts' tax aggressiveness: Experience and personality traits," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 151, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  6. Beatrice Rammstedt & Frank M. Spinath & David Richter & Jürgen Schupp, 2013. "Personality Changes in Couples: Partnership Longevity and Personality Congruence in Couples," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 585, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  7. Santi Budria & Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2012. "Income Comparisons and Non-cognitive Skills," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 441, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  8. Rammstedt, Beatrice & Spinath, Frank M. & Richter, David & Schupp, Jürgen, 2013. "Partnership Longevity and Personality Congruence in Couples," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 832-835.
  9. Simone Schneider & Jürgen Schupp, 2014. "Individual Differences in Social Comparison and its Consequences for Life Satisfaction: Introducing a Short Scale of the Iowa–Netherlands Comparison Orientation Measure," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 767-789, January.
  10. Till Kaiser, 2012. "Haben gebildetere Mütter gewissenhaftere Kinder?: Soziale Herkunft und Persönlichkeitsentwicklung im frühkindlichen Alter," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 509, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  11. Jule Specht & Boris Egloff & Stefan C. Schmukle, 2011. "Stability and Change of Personality across the Life Course: The Impact of Age and Major Life Events on Mean-Level and Rank-Order Stability of the Big Five," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 377, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).


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