Cronbach’s α, Revelle’s β, and Mcdonald’s ω_{H} : their relations with each other and two alternative conceptualizations of reliability Richard E. Zinbarg Email author William Revelle Iftah Yovel Wen Li Article

First Online: 02 April 2005 DOI :
10.1007/s11336-003-0974-7

Cite this article as: Zinbarg, R.E., Revelle, W., Yovel, I. et al. Psychometrika (2005) 70: 123. doi:10.1007/s11336-003-0974-7
Abstract We make theoretical comparisons among five coefficients—Cronbach’s α, Revelle’s β, McDonald’s ω_{h} , and two alternative conceptualizations of reliability. Though many end users and psychometricians alike may not distinguish among these five coefficients, we demonstrate formally their nonequivalence. Specifically, whereas there are conditions under which α, β, and ω_{h} are equivalent to each other and to one of the two conceptualizations of reliability considered here, we show that equality with this conceptualization of reliability and between α and ω_{h} holds only under a highly restrictive set of conditions and that the conditions under which β equals ω_{h} are only somewhat more general. The nonequivalence of α, β, and ω_{h} suggests that important information about the psychometric properties of a scale may be missing when scale developers and users only report α as is almost always the case

Preparation of this article was supported by the Patricia M Nielsen Research Chair of the Family Institute at Northwestern University

We thank Lewis R. Goldberg, Win Hill, Dan McAdams, Tony Z. Tang and especially Roderick P. McDonald for their comments on earlier drafts of portions of this article

This revised article was published online in August 2005 with the PDF paginated correctly.

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Authors and Affiliations Richard E. Zinbarg Email author William Revelle Iftah Yovel Wen Li 1. Northwestern University, the Family Institute at Northwestern University USA 2. Northwestern University USA 3. Northwestern University USA 4. Northwestern University USA 5. Northwestern University Evanston USA