, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 637-642
Date: 23 Oct 2012

The reliability of a two-item scale: Pearson, Cronbach, or Spearman-Brown?

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Introduction

To obtain reliable measures researchers prefer multiple-item questionnaires rather than single-item tests. Multiple-item questionnaires may be costly however and time-consuming for participants to complete. They therefore frequently administer two-item measures, the reliability of which is commonly assessed by computing a reliability coefficient. There is some disagreement, however, what the most appropriate indicator of scale reliability is when a measure is composed of two items. The most frequently reported reliability statistic for multiple-item scales is Cronbach’s coefficient alpha and many researchers report this coefficient for their two-item measure (Cuijpers et al. 2009; Löwe et al. 2005; Michal et al. 2010; Young et al. 2009). Others however claim that coefficient alpha is inappropriate and meaningless for two-item scales (Sainfort and Booske 2000; Verhoef 2003; Cramer et al. 2006; O’Brien et al. 2008). Instead, they recommend using the Pearson correlation coeffi