A Within-Person Examination of the Ideal-Point Response Process

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Ideal-point processes assume that individuals engage in introspective comparisons when responding to self-reported typical traits such as personality, affect, and attitudes. Although this type of response process is fundamentally a within-person phenomenon, past research has relied on between-person data using item response theory (IRT) model comparisons to draw inferences about the appropriateness of ideal-point response processes. However, between-person data may not necessarily be indicative of within-person processes. Across 2 studies, the authors used a paired comparison paradigm to examine whether within-person responses conform to an ideal-point response process (vs. a dominance response process). The authors found that an ideal-point response process more accurately describes within-person responses to personality, attitude, and affect constructs compared to a dominance response process. They additionally found that verbal ability and conscientiousness moderate both ideal and dominance response processes; individuals high on conscientiousness or high on verbal ability are more likely to engage in more precise introspective comparisons.

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