Measuring Personality Traits of Young Children— Results From a NEPS Pilot Study
Measuring the Big Five personality traits is part of the research program in different starting cohorts of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). The Big Five are usually measured through self-ratings via self-administered questionnaires. However, children of preschool age cannot easily report on their self-concept in a sufficient way, even when more extensive research settings are applied. Studies using parental and teacher ratings show that the Big Five can capture individual differences in the behavioral tendencies of children (Digman, 1990; Mervielde, 2005; Weinert, Asendorpf, Beelmann, Doil, & Frevert, 2007), but there are no short survey versions of the Big Five for parental ratings that are done via telephone interviewing. In order to obtain data on the Big Five of five-year-old children in the NEPS, we used a bipolar 10-item scale and asked parents and Kindergarten teachers to rate the children. Since the parents answered questions in computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI), we adapted the items to this mode of surveying. In order to gather information on measuring the Big Five in this bipolar rating scale via telephone interviews, we conducted cognitive interviews with n = 15 parents and then tested two different versions within a split-half design in a pilot study (with total n = 89 parents). This paper presents results from cognitive interviews on parents’ abilities to rate their children’s behavior in this way. We compare the results of the two versions applied in the pilot study as well as the ratings of Kindergarten teachers and parents. Finally, our paper draws conclusions on the measurement of personality traits of young children within the NEPS.
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