Normative Tests

The most common questionnaires use normative questions. These questions are presented in the form of statements (for assessment) to which the test taker is required to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement on a scale of 1 to 5.

Unlike the 'ipsative' assessment, these types of questions are easy to interpret and therefore respond to as they do not require one to reason between or against other (equally attractive) statements. However, the questions are argued by some to be too transparent, in that, individuals may be tempted to distort their response in order to create a favourable impression - and will probably be able to do this easily. However, these questionnaires generally include a social desirability scale which assesses any distortion by a test taker providing a good indication of whether the individual has been presenting themselves overly favourably.

Avoiding the Social Desirability/Lie Scale Pitfall

Examples of questions that assess social desirability include:

  • "I never lied to my parents when growing up"
  • "I never gossip"

These scales are also 'Normed' (see 'norming' for more information) so it is apparent how favourable or critical one has been of themselves; this scale also indicates how one may be presenting themsleves (or their self-perception) in comparison to the rest of the population. Honesty in these questions pays off and does not flag you as someone who is distorting their responses.

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