Short Scales for Assessing Psychological Characteristics

Social-scientific research is more and more in need of measurement instruments to assess psychological attributes. Among them are basic personality traits, willingness to taks risks, values, life satisfaction, attractiveness, optimism, or intelligence. Apart from psychological studies, these attributes are assessed in the health sciences, economics, and engineering with increasing frequency. Integrating these attributes into their models, scientists from various backgrounds rightfully expect a better description of scientific phenomena of all kinds as well as better predictive models for relevant social processes.

GESIS services support social-scientific research by developing and disseminating empirically tested, standardized assessment instruments of high quality. The development of short scales, which allow an economic and efficient assessment of attributes, is one specific goal. Until recently, there were no such instruments for the assessment of psychological attributes that would have been accepted across disciplines.

As a remedy, and in line with the aims of a third-party funded research project, we developed appropriate assessment tools for specific psychological characteristics. These instruments, their development, and their validation process are documented here and available for download by potential future users. Utilizing them in the field will strengthen the intersections between disciplines, while at the same time the comparability between scientific studies will increase. This is likely to improve both monitoring and predicting socially and scientifically relevant processes and phenomena. User-friendly access to all the instruments and their quality criteria is facilitated through the scale repository "CIS" – the Collection of Items and Scales for the Social Sciences.

It was the goal of a third-party funded project to develop short scales for psychological variables. We continually develop additional short scales as part of GESIS's general scale development processes. Please do not hesitate to inquire whether we currently develop short scales on a specific topic. In addition, and as part of our demand-oriented services on scale development, we invite you to contribute to our efforts to develop short scales, for instance, by sharing your ideas on future instruments with us.

Below we present project-specific short scales for measuring psychological attributes. They were developed and validated in a series of studies. You will find all relevant materials in CIS (see also the direct links to the scale documentations provided in Table 1). More detailed information on the development and psychometric quality of the short scales are also available from the GESIS working-papers. All project-specific publications, including journal articles, can be found in our overview of publications overview of publications.

Table 1: Newly Created Short Scales

Scale Name Rubric Author
KSA-3 Authoritarianism Personality Beierlein, Asbrock, Kauff & Schmidt
R-1 Willingness to take risks Personality Beierlein, Kovaleva, Kemper& Rammstedt
L-1 General Life Satisfaction Personality Beierlein, Kovaleva, László, Kemper & Rammstedt
NFC-K Need for Cognition Personality Beißert, Köhler, Rempel & Beierlein
I-8 Impulsive-Behavior-8 Personality Kovaleva, Beierlein, Kemper & Rammstedt
KUSIV3 Interpersonal Trust Personality Beierlein, Kemper, Kovaleva & Rammstedt
IE-4 Internal-External Locus of Control Personality Kovaleva, Beierlein, Kemper & Rammstedt
SOP2 Optimism-Pessimism-2 Personality Kemper, Beierlein, Kovaleva & Rammstedt
BFI-10 Big Five Inventory (10-item scale) Personality Rammstedt, Kemper, Klein, Beierlein & Kovaleva
PEKS Political Efficacy Political Attitudes and Behavior Beierlein, Kemper, Kovaleva & Rammstedt
ASKU Generalized Self-Efficacy  Personality Beierlein, Kovaleva, Kemper & Rammstedt
KSE-G Social Desirability-Gamma Personality Kemper, Beierlein, Bensch, Kovaleva & Rammstedt
USS-8 Justice Sensibility-Scales Social Problems Beierlein, Baumert, Schmitt, Kemper, Kovaleva & Rammstedt
AR-1 Attraktiveness-Rating Personality Kemper, Lutz, Margraf-Stiksrud, Beierlein, Kovaleva & Rammstedt
BEFKI GC-K Crystallized Intelligence Personality Schipolowski, Wilhelm, Schroeders, Kovaleva, Kemper & Rammstedt

Project-related short scales for measuring psychological characteristics were developed and validated in a series of studies. Three samples were drawn, building the foundation for the construction of scales and their empirical evaluation by means of test quality criteria. Details – also for smaller "ad-hoc samples" – can be found in the respective working papers.

All data were collected by independent commercial providers. All scale documentations include, besides the validated instrument itself, comprehensive socio-demographic background information and further psychological and social-scientific measures for scale validation:

  • Items for socio-demographic information were mainly taken from the demographic standards of the German Federal Statistical Office ("Statistisches Bundesamt", 2010).
  • For validation purposes, we employed standard instrumentsto capture, for instance, life satisfaction (SWLS, Diener, Emmons, Larsen & Griffin, 1985; only in sample 1), locus of control (Jakoby & Jacob, 1999; only in sample 1), optimism (LOT-R, Glaesmer, Hoyer, Klotsche & Herzberg, 2008; only in sample 1), the main dimensions of personality according to the five-factor-model (BFI-10, Rammstedt & John, 2007), self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1989; only in sample 2), impulsivity (UPPS, Kämpfe & Mitte, 2009; only in sample 2), general self-efficacy expectation (Schwarzer & Jerusalem, 1999; only in sample 1), as well as our instruments.
  • Of social-scientific relevance were the following measures, which we collected: network size, job strain at the workplace and Effort-Reward-Imbalance (Siegrist et al., 2004), general health, political party preference, income, assets, and deviance.

The quality of the constructed scales – especially reliability and validity criteria – were evaluated on the basis of three samples. The procedure is inspired by the conventional procedure for the validation of personality scales in psychological research (for details see Bühner, 2011; Lienert & Raatz, 1998).