Construct Validity of the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS) Among University Students: A Multitrait–Multimethod Approach

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Abstract

There is considerable debate about the underlying factor structure of the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS) in the literature. An established view is that it reflects a unitary or bidimensional construct in nonclinical samples. There are, however, reasons to reconsider this conceptualization. Based on previous factor analytic findings from both clinical and nonclinical studies, the aim of the present study was to compare 16 competing models of the BHS in a large university student sample (N = 1, 733). Sixteen distinct factor models were specified and tested using conventional confirmatory factor analytic techniques, along with confirmatory bifactor modeling. A 3-factor solution with 2 method effects (i.e., a multitrait–multimethod model) provided the best fit to the data. The reliability of this conceptualization was supported by McDonald’s coefficient omega and the differential relationships exhibited between the 3 hopelessness factors (“feelings about the future,” “loss of motivation,” and “future expectations”) and measures of goal disengagement, brooding rumination, suicide ideation, and suicide attempt history. The results provide statistical support for a 3-trait and 2-method factor model, and hence the 3 dimensions of hopelessness theorized by Beck. The theoretical and methodological implications of these findings are discussed.

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