The loneliness questionnaire-short version: An evaluation of reverse-worded and non-reverse-worded items via item response theory

Chad Ebesutani, Christopher Drescher, Steven P. Reise, Laurie Heiden, Terry L. Hight, John D. Damon, John Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Although reverse-worded items have often been incorporated in scale construction to minimize the effects of acquiescent reporting biases, some researchers have more recently begun questioning this approach and wondering whether the advantages associated with incorporating reverse-worded items is worth the complexities that they bring to measures (e.g., Brown, 2003; Marsh, 1996). In this study, we used item response theory (IRT) to determine whether there is statistical justification to eliminate the reverse-worded items (e.g., I have lots of friends) from the Loneliness Questionnaire (LQ; Asher, Hymel, & Renshaw, 1984) and retain only the non-reverse-worded items (e.g., Im lonely) to inform the provision of a shortened LQ version. Using a large sample of children (Grades 2-7; n = 6,784) and adolescents (Grades 8-12; n = 4,941), we examined the psychometric properties of the 24-item LQ and found support for retaining the 9 non-reverse-worded LQ items to make up a shortened measure of loneliness in youth. We found that the non-reverse-worded items were associated with superior psychometric properties relative to the reverse-worded items with respect to reliability and IRT parameters (e.g., discrimination and item information). A 3-point Likert-type scale was also found to be more suitable for measuring loneliness across both children and adolescents compared to the original 5-point scale. The relative contributions of reverse-worded and non-reverse-worded items in scale development for youth instruments are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-437
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality Assessment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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