Fitting Measurement Models to Vocational Interest Data: Are Dominance Models Ideal?

Louis Tay, Fritz Drasgow, James Rounds, Bruce A. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, the authors examined the item response process underlying 3 vocational interest inventories: the Occupational Preference Inventory (C.-P. Deng, P. I. Armstrong, & J. Rounds, 2007), the Interest Profiler (J. Rounds, T. Smith, L. Hubert, P. Lewis, & D. Rivkin, 1999; J. Rounds, C. M. Walker, et al., 1999), and the Interest Finder (J. E. Wall & H. E. Baker, 1997; J. E. Wall, L. L. Wise, & H. E. Baker, 1996). Item response theory (IRT) dominance models, such as the 2-parameter and 3-parameter logistic models, assume that item response functions (IRFs) are monotonically increasing as the latent trait increases. In contrast, IRT ideal point models, such as the generalized graded unfolding model, have IRFs that peak where the latent trait matches the item. Ideal point models are expected to fit better because vocational interest inventories ask about typical behavior, as opposed to requiring maximal performance. Results show that across all 3 interest inventories, the ideal point model provided better descriptions of the response process. The importance of specifying the correct item response model for precise measurement is discussed. In particular, scores computed by a dominance model were shown to be sometimes illogical: Individuals endorsing mostly realistic or mostly social items were given similar scores, whereas scores based on an ideal point model were sensitive to which type of items respondents endorsed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1287-1304
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • ideal point model
  • interest measurement and scoring
  • item response theory
  • maximal behavior
  • self-reported typical behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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