ANCHORS AWAY–THE STABILITY OF MEANING OF ANCHORS WHEN THEIR LOCATION IS CHANGED

GAIL H. IRONSON, PATRICIA C. SMITH

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Abstract

This study addresses three questions. (1) Does the meaning of the neutral anchor shift when its position is moved away from the middle of the series? The location of (psychological) zero in rating scales is crucial if they are to be used as multipliers (e.g., as weights or in functional equations). (2) Does moving the neutral anchor from a central position increase sensitivity (variance) of ratings? Such displacement has been used frequently without investigation of its effects. (3) Are any of the above effects general across types of anchors? Displacement had significant effects (N= 210) on meaning of the neutral anchor and on sensitivity. Stability of meaning of anchors, however, was greater when anchors were words rather than faces. Therefore verbal anchors should be used, with the neutral anchor located centrally, to establish zero; but displaced to increase sensitivity at one end of the scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-262
Number of pages14
JournalPersonnel Psychology
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1981

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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