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The psychometrics of a bipolar valence activation model of self-reported affect Carroll, James M.

Abstract

Since the 1950's, researchers have sought unsuccessfully to identify a consensual psychometric structure of self-reported affect. One unresolved question, central to any psychometric model, is whether the structure includes bipolar or unipolar dimensions. For example, are positive and negative affect two ends of the same bipolar dimension or are they better represented by separable unipolar dimensions? In contrast to what has been assumed in previous analyses, a bipolar model is presented that distinguishes between two forms of bipolarity, each with its own conceptual definition, operational definition, and statistical properties. It is shown both conceptually and empirically that the two forms of bipolarity lead to different results when examined by traditional psychometric methods such as exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and the linear correlation. Furthermore, when the bipolar model is applied to previous analyses, the psychometric evidence that has suggested unipolar dimensions can be interpreted as evidence suggesting bipolar dimensions. Two studies were conducted to examine specific predictions of the bipolar model. Study 1 examined judgements of the hypothesized opposites of hot-cold and happy-sad. Study 2 examined judgments of affect terms based on a circumplex model of affect characterized by orthogonal valence and activation dimensions. In both studies the bipolar model is strongly supported. Furthermore, the analyses highlighted specific problems with current methods that emphasize sophisticated techniques based on the correlation coefficient and demonstrated the utility of more simple descriptive statistics.

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