Avoid items that are likely to be answered the same way by everybody

In rating scales we should avoid statements that are likely to be endorsed by almost everyone or almost no one. In most cases these items are not informative and they are certainly difficult if not impossible to process statistically. Here is a recent example from my own research (Dôrnyei & Clément, 2001): A questionnaire item asked students to rate the international role/importance of six countries, including the United States. As can be imagined, most respondents gave the U.S. the top score. However, as we found out in the analyses, this did not provide enough variance to compute certain statistical results involving this item, and in some cases - when in a particular subgroup (e.g., a school) every single person gave the top score - the computer treated the responses as missing data because of the total lack of variance.

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