Psychometric analysis of Triandis' instruments of individualism and collectivism using modern item response theory

Year: 2001

Author: Snider, Paul, Styles, Irene

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Psychological research addressing cross-cultural issues is contemporary and prolific; however, much of the research explores cultural variables that are not adequately identified. Two examples are the concepts of individualism and collectivism. Although a popular research topic, these concepts are defined vaguely and often used in the literature in a self-evident manner. Further, there is little research using modem item response theory (IRT) to establish the psychometric properties of instruments frequently used to measure such concepts. This paper presents the findings of a study in which ethnic Chinese international students, and Australian and American university students were asked to respond to Triandis' Individualism and Collectivism scales (INDCOL), and scenarios. The psychometric properties of the scales were explored using Rasch's IRT measurement model. The composition of the respondents provided the opportunity to identify evidence of differential item functioning (DIF) amongst individuals sharing a common language but not a common culture. A method for accounting for the DIF is explained. To deepen our understanding of differences in functioning of some of the INDCOL items amongst respondents, qualitative data concerning the interpretation of items were collected from members of the groups. Additionally, comparisons between INDCOL scales and scenarios provides evidence of the importance of context when discussing cultural variables, and of taking account of contextual meaning of items when designing attitudinal instruments for crosscultural research.