Controlling Acquiescence Response Bias by Item Reversals: The Effect on Questionnaire Validity

Chester A. Schriesheim, Kenneth D. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


The prevailing conventional wisdom is that it is advisable to mix positively and negatively worded items in psychological measures to counteract acquiescence response bias. However, there has been virtually no unambiguous empirical evidence to support this recommendation. Thus, an experiment was conducted to evaluate the ability of subjects to respond accurately to both positive and reversed (negative) items on a questionnaire. Items from the LBDQ—XII Initiating Structure and Consideration subscales were used to create a written description of a fictitious manager. One hundred-fifty subjects, all upper-division business undergraduates, were given the written managerial description and then asked to complete a questionnaire containing the twenty Initiating Structure and Consideration items. The managerial descriptions were in two forms (to portray high and low Initiating Structure), and the questionnaires contained items in three forms (all positively worded, all negatively worded, and mixed). The data were evaluated using a one-way analysis of variance and post hoc t-tests. Significant differences in response accuracy were found between the item wording conditions. It was concluded that it may not be advisable to employ reversed (negatively-worded) items to control acquiescence response bias, as such changes may actually impair response accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1101-1114
Number of pages14
JournalEducational and Psychological Measurement
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Applied Mathematics


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