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01-09-2012 | Uitgave 3/2012

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 3/2012

Age-neutrality of the NEO-PI-R: Potential Differential Item Functioning in Older Versus Younger Adults

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment > Uitgave 3/2012
Joke Van den Broeck, Gina Rossi, Eva Dierckx, Barbara De Clercq
Belangrijke opmerkingen
This research is part of the first author’s doctoral dissertation, and preliminary results were partly presented at the 15th European Conference on Personality in July, 2010.


Geriatric researchers and clinicians often have to deal with a lack of valid personality measures for older age groups (e.g., Mroczek, Hurt, & Berman, 1999; Zweig 2008), which hampers a reliable assessment of personality in later life. An age-neutral measurement system is one of the basic conditions for an accurate personality assessment across the lifespan, both longitudinally and cross-sectionally. In the present study, we empirically investigate the age-neutrality of one of the most widely used personality measures (i.e., the NEO PI-R (Costa & McCrae, 1992)), by examining potential Differential Item Functioning (DIF). Overall, results indicate that the vast majority (92.9 % at domain-level and 95 % at facet-level) of the NEO PI-R items was similarly endorsed by younger and older age groups with the same position on the personality trait of interest, corroborating the NEO PI-R’s age neutrality. However, Differential Test Functioning (DTF) analyses revealed large DTF for Extraversion, and facet A6 (Tender-Mindedness). Results are discussed in terms of their implications for using the current format of the NEO PI-R in older aged samples.

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