Addressing the Problem of Acquiescence Bias in Career Anchor Measurement

By Mengfei Cai, Jared R. Chapman and Bruce Brown.

Published by Organizational Cultures: An International Journal

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Feldman and Bolino (1996) suggested that statistical work should be done to identify the underlying factor structure of career anchors to better understand their complementary and mutually exclusive relationships. While several attempts have been made to evaluate the factor structure of career anchors in a variety of populations, fitting a model to the data has been problematic. So far, a satisfactory universal model has not been identified (Barclay, Chapman, and Brown 2012; Cai, Chapman, and Brown 2016). Barclay, Chapman, and Brown (2012) suggest that the difficulty in identifying the underlying factor structure of career anchors may be partially due to the psychometric properties of the Career Orientation Inventory (COI),which consists of forty questions addressing eight anchors (DeLong 1982) using a Likert-scale format. Likert scale data can be distorted due to acquiescence bias, the tendency of respondents to indicate a positive response to prompts (Baron 1996). The COI may be especially vulnerable to acquiescence bias because participants may identify with a wide variety of prompts and give themselves high marks for many or most items. If this is the case, there would be insufficient variability in the data and true latent variables would be masked, limiting the power of factor analysis. This study attempts to address acquiescence bias while assessing career anchors using an economic exchange version of the COI. We found that the economic exchange version of the COI creates greater within-person standard deviation and lower average scores as predicted, indicating lower acquiescence bias. However, the resulting correlation coefficients are higher rather than lower and more negative as predicted. This is possibly due to a new type of bias introduced by the economic exchange format. In its present form the economic exchange COI is not superior to the traditional COI.

Keywords: Career Anchor, Measurement Methods

Organizational Cultures: An International Journal, Volume 16, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.13-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 981.271KB).

Mengfei Cai

Assistant Professor, Psychology, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, West Virginia, USA

Dr. Jared R. Chapman

Assistant Professor, Woodbury School of Business, Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah, USA

Bruce Brown

Professor, Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA

I was born and raised in American Fork, Utah. My missionary service was in the Western Canadian Mission. I attended the University of Utah, graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.S. degree and an M.S. degree, and obtained my PhD in psychology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. I did post-doctoral work in mathematical psychology at University of Michigan.