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Eliminating Defense and Agreement Bias from Measures of the Sense of Control: A 2 X 2 Index

John Mirowsky and Catherine E. Ross
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 54, No. 2 (Jun., 1991), pp. 127-145
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786931
Page Count: 19
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Eliminating Defense and Agreement Bias from Measures of the Sense of Control: A 2 X 2 Index
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Abstract

Defensiveness and a tendency to agree bias findings based on unbalanced measures of the sense of control. A comprehensive model shows the defense bias introduced by not balancing the number of statements about good and bad outcomes and the agreement bias introduced by not balancing the number of internal (instrumental) and external (fatalistic) statements. Notably, indexes that are composed only of external statements have spuriously larger variances, reliabilities, and correlations than do those that are composed solely of internal statements. Thus study develops and evaluates a balanced 2 X 2 measure of the sense of control over one's own life. The measure has three properties: (1) it is not biased by self-defense and self-blame or by the tendency to agree with statements regardless of content; (2) it has construct validity for community survey research on income, education, minority status, aging, or well-being; and (3) its form and length are suitable for community surveys. The index is validated using data from 225 students and from 713 residents of Illinois.

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