Psicothema was founded in Asturias (northern Spain) in 1989, and is published jointly by the Psychology Faculty of the University of Oviedo and the Psychological Association of the Principality of Asturias (Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos del Principado de Asturias).
We currently publish four issues per year, which accounts for some 100 articles annually. We admit work from both the basic and applied research fields, and from all areas of Psychology, all manuscripts being anonymously reviewed prior to publication.

  • Director: Laura E. Gómez Sánchez
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  • ISSN: 0214-9915
  • Digital Edition:: 1886-144X
  • Address: Ildelfonso Sánchez del Río, 4, 1º B
    33001 Oviedo (Spain)
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The dilemma of combining positive and negative items in scales

Martín Solís Salazar

Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica

Background: This study analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of combining negative and positive items in scales in a Spanish-speaking context. Method: Three telephone surveys of 233 people each were carried out. In one survey, 15 items from the Keyes Social Well-Being Scale were worded in a positive fashion; another survey presented 8 items in a positive fashion and 7 items in terms of direct denial; and in the third survey, 7 items were worded positively, 5 were worded in negative terms using polar opposites, and 3 terms were presented in terms of direct denial. Results: The results show a greater tendency for the items in the Positive questionnaire to show results associated with the directionality of the items. However, this questionnaire shows higher values of the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient, and better fit of the theoretical factor structure. Conclusions: In the survey that included only positive items, findings indicated the existence of acquiescence bias. However, a remedy to this situation only made matters worse, as the combination of positive and negative items seriously affected the internal consistency of the scales.

El dilema de combinar ítems positivos y negativos en escalas. Antecedentes: se analizó en un contexto hispano hablante las ventajas y desventajas de combinar ítems negativos y positivos en las escalas. Método: se aplicaron tres encuestas telefónicas de 233 personas cada una. En una encuesta se redactaron 15 ítems de la escala de bienestar social de Keyes de forma positiva; otra contó con 8 ítems redactados de manera positiva y 7 de negación directa; en la última hubo 7 ítems positivos, 5 de negación usando el polo opuesto y 3 de negación directa. Resultados: los resultados revelan una mayor tendencia de los ítems del cuestionario positivo a presentar respuestas asociadas a la direccionalidad del ítem. Sin embargo, este cuestionario muestra valores más altos del coeficiente alfa de Cronbach y un mejor ajuste de la estructura factorial teórica. Conclusiones: se prevé mayor presencia  del sesgo de aceptación en el cuestionario que solo posee ítems positivos. Sin embargo, el remedio empeoró las cosas, la combinación de ítems positivos y negativos afectó seriamente la consistencia interna de las escalas.


Impact factor 2022:  JCR WOS 2022:  FI = 3.6 (Q2);  JCI = 1.21 (Q1) / SCOPUS 2022:  SJR = 1.097;  CiteScore = 6.4 (Q1)