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Australian Journal of Psychology Vol. 32, No. 2, 1980, pp. 149-150.

ACQUIESCENCE AND COEFFICIENT ALPHA: A REPLY TO PORRITT



J. J. RAY

University of' New South Wales

In response to the demonstration in Ray and Pratt (1979) that the "Yeasaying" scores on the Wilson conservatism scale are fairly reliable in terms of coefficient "alpha", Porritt (1980) points to the well-known fact that if two parts of a scale are homogeneous within themselves but are not correlated between themselves, they will still generate moderate "alphas". Because the positively and negatively scored C-scale halves were in fact moderately homogeneous within themselves (alphas of .74 and .65 in the Ray and Pratt conscript study) and were yet poorly correlated between themselves (-.20), Porritt hypothesizes that all of the contribution to the "Yeasaying" alpha might be from this source alone -- from the "within halves" correlations.

This is not so. In the Ray and Pratt (1979) conscript study, 26% of the correlations between Radical and Conservative items were anomalous in terms of the theoretical expectation -- they were positive rather than negative in sign. A substantial proportion of the correlations making a positive contribution to the Yeasaying alpha did then come from the "between halves" correlations. These anomalous correlations are however not anomalous if we accept the view that the items of the scale were ambiguous and that the respondents were tending to say "Yes" to ambiguous stimuli. They are explained by the "acquiescence" hypothesis.

A rather more serious blow to Porritt's hypothesis, however, is the fact that it has now been shown (Ray, 1980a) that even on occasions when the correlation between the two halves of the C-scale is satisfactory, the Yeasaying alpha is still similar to that reported in Ray and Pratt (1979).

That the C-scale is an unusually strong measure of acquiescence is also supported if we compare its Yeasaying alpha with similar alphas for other scales. Ray (1979) shows that even a balanced F scale generates alphas ranging only between .32 to .43. This is in a rather different league to .60 and .61.

Porritt's espousal of Kerlinger's hypothesis (that radicalism and conservatism are intrinsically orthogonal) must also be questioned on two grounds: (1) The correlation between the two halves of the C-scale is normally high and negative (Ray, 1980a; Wilson, 1974); (2) Attempts to test Kerlinger's hypothesis while controlling for the effects of acquiescence cause the apparent orthogonality to vanish (Ray, 1980b).

REFERENCES

PORRITT, D. "Acquiescence" and the C-scale: A critical note on Ray and Pratt. Australian Journal of Psychology, 1980, 32, 147-148.

RAY, J.J. (1979) Is the acquiescent response style not so mythical after all? Some results from a successful balanced F scale. Journal of Personality Assessment 43, 638-643.

RAY, J.J. (1980a) Acquiescence and the Wilson Conservatism scale. Personality & Individual Differences, 1, 303-305.

RAY, J.J. (1980b) Orthogonality between liberalism and conservatism.Journal of Social Psychology, 112, 215-218.

RAY, J.J. & PRATT, G.J. (1979) Is the influence of acquiescence on "catchphrase" type attitude scale items not so mythical after all? "Australian Journal of Psychology 31, 73-78.

WILSON, G. D. Evaluation of the conservatism scale: A reply to Ray. New Zealand Psychologist, 1974, 3, 27.




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