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Breaking Free from the Limitations of Classical Test Theory: Developing and Measuring Information Systems Scales Using Item Response Theory

Rusch, Thomas and Lowry, Paul Benjamin and Mair, Patrick and Treiblmaier, Horst (2016) Breaking Free from the Limitations of Classical Test Theory: Developing and Measuring Information Systems Scales Using Item Response Theory. Information & Management. pp. 1-15. ISSN 0378-7206

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Information systems (IS) research frequently uses survey data to measure the interplay between technological systems and human beings. Researchers have developed sophisticated procedures to build and validate multi-item scales that measure latent constructs. The vast majority of IS studies uses classical test theory (CTT), but this approach suffers from three major theoretical shortcomings: (1) it assumes a linear relationship between the latent variable and observed scores, which rarely represents the empirical reality of behavioral constructs; (2) the true score can either not be estimated directly or only by making assumptions that are difficult to be met; and (3) parameters such as reliability, discrimination, location, or factor loadings depend on the sample being used. To address these issues, we present item response theory (IRT) as a collection of viable alternatives for measuring continuous latent variables by means of categorical indicators (i.e., measurement variables). IRT offers several advantages: (1) it assumes nonlinear relationships; (2) it allows more appropriate estimation of the true score; (3) it can estimate item parameters independently of the sample being used; (4) it allows the researcher to select items that are in accordance with a desired model; and (5) it applies and generalizes concepts such as reliability and internal consistency, and thus allows researchers to derive more information about the measurement process. We use a CTT approach as well as Rasch models (a special class of IRT models) to demonstrate how a scale for measuring hedonic aspects of websites is developed under both approaches. The results illustrate how IRT can be successfully applied in IS research and provide better scale results than CTT. We conclude by explaining the most appropriate circumstances for applying IRT, as well as the limitations of IRT.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is in press, a corrected proof. To see the final version of this paper please visit the publisher's website. Access to the published version requires a subscription.
Keywords: Item response theory; Classical test theory; Scale development; Rasch model; Measurement; Measures; Hedonism; Reliability; Hedonic IS
Divisions: Kompetenzzentren > Empirische Forschungsmethoden
Version of the Document: Accepted for Publication
Depositing User: ePub Administrator
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2016 11:20
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2016 14:24
Related URLs:
FIDES Link: https://bach.wu.ac.at/d/research/results/77330/
URI: http://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/5356


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