Does cognitive ability influence responses to the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale?

Ian J Deary, Roger Watson, Thomas Booth, Catharine R Gale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

It has been suggested that how individuals respond to self-report items relies on cognitive processing. We hypothesized that an individual's level of cognitive ability may influence these processes such that, if there is a hierarchy of items within a particular questionnaire, as demonstrated by Mokken scaling, the strength of that hierarchy will vary according to cognitive ability. Using data on 8,643 men and women from the National Child Development Survey (1958 birth cohort; Power, & Elliott, 2006), we investigated, using Mokken scaling, whether the 14 items that make up the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (Tennant et al., 2007)-completed when the participants were 50 years of age-form a hierarchy and whether that hierarchy varied according to cognitive ability at age 11 years. Among the sample as a whole, we found a moderately strong unidimensional hierarchy of items (Loevinger's coefficient [H] = 0.48). We split participants into 3 groups according to cognitive ability and analyzed the Mokken scaling properties of each group. Only the medium and high cognitive ability groups had acceptable (≥0.3) invariant item ordering (assessed using the HT statistic). This pattern was also found when the 3 cognitive ability groups were assessed within men and women separately. Greater attention should be paid to the content validity of questionnaires to ensure they are applicable across the spectrum of mental ability. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-318
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological assessment
Issue number2
Early online date10 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Mokken scaling
  • hierarchical scales
  • item response theory
  • cognitive ability
  • mental well-being


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