Date of Award

5-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Major Professor

David J. Woehr

Committee Members

M. Lane Morris, Joan Rentsch, Eric Sundstrom

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the utility of frequency-based measurement as an alternative method for examining the stability of psychological capital, a higher-order construct introduced by Luthans and colleagues (2007), consisting of self-efficacy, hope, resilience, and optimism. Frequency-based measurement is a new approach based on the distributional assessment model (Kane, 1986; 2000) that provides information on the relative frequency of occurrence for specific behaviors over a given period of time, and offers a distribution that depicts the scope of an individual’s behavior. One advantage of this approach is that it can provide information on a person’s behavior over time in a single administration, allowing researchers to examine the temporal stability of constructs without having to conduct longitudinal studies (e.g., personality, Edwards & Woehr, 2007).

To investigate the usefulness of this new approach, a series of studies was conducted using a sample of students from a large southeastern university. The first study compared a frequency-based measure of psychological capital to the more traditional Likert-type measure. Results indicated that the two are equivalent measures of the central tendency of psychological capital. The frequency-based measure was also compared to the Likert-type measure given across three contexts (family, school, and social settings) in a second study. Results indicated that the two approaches offered similar information in terms of consistency, with both approaches demonstrating some variability in responses over time or across contexts. Thus, this study provided further evidence that frequency-based measurement offers additional information not available in a single administration using a Likert-type measure. The last study investigated agreement between an individual’s self-reported psychological capital and ratings of their psychological capital given by an acquaintance. Contrary to my expectations, within-item consistency did not moderate self/other agreement. The implications of these findings are outlined, in addition to suggestions for future research.

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