Distinguishing Among Paranletric item Response Models for Polychotomous Ordered Data

Albert Maydeu-Olivares, Fritz Drasgow, Alan D. Mead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Several item response models have been proposed for fitting Likert-type data. Thissen & Steinberg (1986) classified most of these models into difference models and divide-by-total models. Although they have differ ent mathematical forms, divide-by-total and difference models with the same number of parameters seem to provide very similar fit to the data. The ideal observer method was used to compare two models with the same number of parameters—Samejima’s (1969) graded re sponse model (a difference model) and Thissen & Steinberg’s (1986) extension of Masters’ (1982) partial credit model (a divide-by-total model)—to investigate whether difference models or divide-by-total models should be preferred for fitting Likert-type data. The models were found to be very similar under the condi tions investigated, which included scale lengths from 5 to 25 items (five-option items were used) and calibra tion samples of 250 to 3,000. The results suggest that both models fit approximately equally well in most practical applications. Index terms: graded response model, IRT, Likert scales, partial credit model, poly chotomous models, psychometrics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-256
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Psychological Measurement
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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