Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 299–311 | Cite as

Detecting Insufficient Effort Responding with an Infrequency Scale: Evaluating Validity and Participant Reactions

  • Jason L. HuangEmail author
  • Nathan A. Bowling
  • Mengqiao Liu
  • Yuhui Li



Insufficient effort responding (IER), which occurs due to a lack of motivation to comply with survey instructions and to correctly interpret item content, represents a serious problem for researchers and practitioners who employ survey methodology (Huang et al. 2012). Extending prior research, we examine the validity of the infrequency approach to detecting IER and assess participant reactions to such an approach.


Two online surveys (Studies 1 and 2) completed by employed undergraduates were utilized to assess the validity of the infrequency approach. An on-line survey of paid participants (Study 3) and a paper-and-pencil survey in an organization (Study 4) were conducted to evaluate participant reactions, using random assignment into survey conditions that either did or did not contain infrequency items.


Studies 1 and 2 provided evidence for the reliability, unidimensionality, and criterion-related validity of the infrequency scales. Study 3 and Study 4 showed that surveys that contained infrequency items did not lead to more negative reactions than did surveys that did not contain such items.


The current findings provide evidence of the effectiveness and feasibility of the infrequency approach for detecting IER, supporting its application in low-stakes organizational survey contexts.


The current studies provide a more in-depth examination of the infrequency approach to IER detection than had been done in prior research. In particular, the evaluation of participant reactions to infrequency scales represents a novel contribution to the IER literature.


Insufficient effort responding Careless responding Random responding Inconsistent responding Data screening Online surveys 



We would like to thank Neal Schmitt, Fred Oswald, and Adam Meade for comments on earlier drafts of this paper, and Jessica Keeney and Paul Curran for suggestions during the early stages of this research. We also thank Travis Walker for assisting with data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason L. Huang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nathan A. Bowling
    • 2
  • Mengqiao Liu
    • 1
  • Yuhui Li
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyWright State UniversityDaytonUSA
  3. 3.School of Labor and Human ResourcesRenmin UniversityBeijingChina

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