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Development of a Validity Scale for the Dissociative Experience Scale-Revised: Atypicality, Structure, and Inconsistency

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Abstract

The Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES), the most commonly used scale for assessing dissociation across settings, lacks a validity scale. In this study, six methods of enhancing validity were utilized: vocabulary and duration screening, manipulation checks, inconsistency, atypicality, and structure (unlikely pattern of responses). Six reverse-worded DES questions were developed to assess inconsistency, six questions regarding extremely rare or unknown symptoms assessed atypicality, and the difference between taxon and absorption items assessed structure. Honest, feigning, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) groups completed the assessment (N = 345) via Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) or SurveyMonkey. All groups received a brief definition of dissociation. The honest/PTSD groups were asked to complete the survey honestly. The feigning group members were asked to pretend to be someone with dissociative symptoms. Failure of the vocabulary, duration, or manipulation check validations led to 72 exclusions. The three groups differed significantly on the inconsistent items, the atypical items, and structure items, F(2, 271) > 7.52, p < .001, with the feigning group consistently performing worse than the two honest groups. The DES with validity scale may be most useful for community survey studies in which there is a high risk of malingering or feigning.

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Correspondence to Constance Dalenberg.

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Abu-Rus, A., Thompson, K.J., Naish, B.L. et al. Development of a Validity Scale for the Dissociative Experience Scale-Revised: Atypicality, Structure, and Inconsistency. Psychol. Inj. and Law (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12207-019-09371-9

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Keywords

  • Dissociation
  • Trauma
  • Malingering
  • Forensic
  • DES
  • PTSD