Validating a new method for quantifying traits: *Response pattern and response latencies

Brian Joseph Corby, Fordham University


The present study investigated a new method of quantifying trait prominence, one that provides an empirical estimate of the uncertainty associated with a measured trait position in addition to a measure of central tendency. This method employed a trait continuum and used a participant's pattern of true and false responses and response latencies across that continuum to measure trait prominence and uncertainty. Two traits were investigated: extraversion and trait-anxiety. Each location along a continuum was assessed five times. In this manner the consistency of the response type at each location was assessed. As hypothesized, a significant relationship was established between consistency of response type and response latency, with more consistent responding being associated with briefer latencies. Correlations between scores obtained using the new method and scores obtained using established measures were positive and significant, suggesting the proposed method is valid for the traits assessed. In addition, the current method provides a measure of the uncertainty associated with a participant's score. This uncertainty is quantified by the width of the continuum a participant endorses. This is information which is unavailable using traditional methods of trait measurement. A powerful gender effect emerged, with male participants consistently producing briefer response latencies than females. This finding was interpreted in terms of previously established differences in male and female performance on visual-spatial tasks. Finally, the width of the continuum endorsed was independent of degree of trait prominence for both extraversion and trait-anxiety. A tentative hypothesis offers that the width of the continuum that a participant endorses may be related to a flexibility-rigidity dimension in personality. Additional research is planned to investigate this relationship.

Subject Area

Psychological tests|Personality

Recommended Citation

Corby, Brian Joseph, "Validating a new method for quantifying traits: *Response pattern and response latencies" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9964560.