Development of the Paranormal and Supernatural Beliefs Scale using classical and modern test theory
Dean, Charlotte E
Gale, Tim M
Laws, Keith R
Background: This study describes the construction and validation of a new scale for measuring belief in paranormal phenomena. The work aims to address psychometric and conceptual shortcomings associated with existing measures of paranormal belief. The study also compares the use of classic test theory and modern test theory as methods for scale development. Method: We combined novel items and amended items taken from existing scales, to produce an initial corpus of 29 items. Two hundred and thirty-one adult participants rated their level of agreement with each item using a seven-point Likert scale. Results: Classical test theory methods (including exploratory factor analysis and principal components analysis) reduced the scale to 14 items and one overarching factor: Supernatural Beliefs. The factor demonstrated high internal reliability, with an excellent test–retest reliability for the total scale. Modern test theory methods (Rasch analysis using a rating scale model) reduced the scale to 13 items with a four-point response format. The Rasch scale was found to be most effective at differentiating between individuals with moderate-high levels of paranormal beliefs, and differential item functioning analysis indicated that the Rasch scale represents a valid measure of belief in paranormal phenomena. Conclusions: The scale developed using modern test theory is identified as the final scale as this model allowed for in-depth analyses and refinement of the scale that was not possible using classical test theory. Results support the psychometric reliability of this new scale for assessing belief in paranormal phenomena, particularly when differentiating between individuals with higher levels of belief.