Management Department


Date of this Version



Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 102:4 (2012), pp. 874–888; doi: 10.1037/a0027403


Copyright © 2012 American Psychological Association. Used by permission.


Researchers often use very abbreviated (e.g., 1-item, 2-item) measures of personality traits due to their convenience and ease of use as well as the belief that such measures can adequately capture an individual’s personality. Using data from 2 samples (N = 437 employees, N = 355 college students), we show that this practice, particularly the use of single-item measures, can lead researchers to substantially underestimate the role that personality traits play in influencing important behaviors and thereby overestimate the role played by new constructs. That is, the use of very short measures of personality may substantially increase both the Type 1 and Type 2 error rates. We argue that even slightly longer measures can substantially increase the validity of research findings without significant inconvenience to the researcher or research participants.