Normative Items


What Are They?

Normative items are used mainly in personality questionnaires, and are important in psychometric testing as they can delve into the personality traits of candidates and compare them to others who have taken the test. This makes personality a measurable scale, which is easier to look at when having to go through the recruitment of many people. The Normative style questionnaire involves a ‘Likert-type’ scale, in which the test candidate has to rate how strongly they agree with a statement on a scale of 1-5 (strongly agree to strongly disagree).

The Pros

There is no way for individuals taking the test to deviate from what is being asked of them, and is therefore a straight forward way of assessing and comparing peoples answers; ultimately making an index of ‘normal’ characteristics from which an employer could pick the most suited or desirable individuals.

The Cons

The main fault with this type of approach is that it lends itself to problems such as fatigue effect, meaning the candidate may become bored of the questionnaire and so just randomly tick boxes so as to get through the test quickly. The second is the social desirability bias, the candidate may answer questions in a way that make them appear in a good-light to the employer, rather than how they actually feel/behave. So, although the normative item approach is good for finding out the normal characteristics of a sample of people, it can be easily misused. This is not ideal for employers as they could end up employing someone who they believe would fit in perfectly with their company role, but is in fact very different from the answers they have given.

The Solution

A better approach to personality questionnaires would be the ipsative approach, or a mixture of both ipsative and normative; meaning the consistency of the candidates answers can be compared for accuracy.

Leave a Reply