Item-trait association, scale multidimensionality, and differential item functioning identification in personality assessment

John T. Kulas, Jenny Merriam, Yuko Onama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


This report documents relationships between differential item functioning (DIF) identification and: (1) item-trait association, and (2) scale multidimensionality in personality assessment. Applying [Zumbo, B. D. (1999). A handbook on the theory and methods of differential item functioning (DIF): Logistic regression modeling as a unitary framework for binary and Likert-type (ordinal) item scores. Ottawa, ON: Directorate of Human Resources Research and Evaluation, Department of National Defense.] logistic regression model, DIF effect size is found to become increasingly inflated as investigated item associations with trait scores decrease. Similar patterns were noted for the influence of scale multidimensionality on DIF identification. Individuals who investigate DIF in personality assessment applications are provided with estimates regarding the impact of the magnitude of item and trait association and scale multidimensionality on DIF occurrence and effect size. The results emphasize the importance of excluding investigated items in focal trait identification prior to conducting DIF analyses and reporting item and scale psychometric properties in DIF reports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1102-1108
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008



  • DIF
  • Differential item functioning
  • FFM
  • Five factor model
  • IPIP
  • Logistic regression

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