We illustrate the usefulness of person-fit methodology for personality assessment. For this purpose, we use person-fit methods from item response theory. First, we give a nontechnical introduction to existing person-fit statistics. Second, we analyze data from Harter's (1985)Self-Perception Profile for Children in a sample of children ranging from 8 to 12 years of age (N = 611) and argue that for some children, the scale scores should be interpreted with care and caution. Combined information from person-fit indexes and from observation, interviews, and self-concept theory showed that similar score profiles may have a different interpretation. For some children in the sample, item scores did not adequately reflect their trait level. Based on teacher interviews, this was found to be due most likely to a less developed self-concept and/or problems understanding the meaning of the questions. We recommend investigating the scalability of score patterns when using self-report inventories to help the researcher interpret respondents' behavior correctly.
Meijer, R. R., Egberink, I. J. L., Emons, W. H. M., & Sijtsma, K. (2008). Detection and validation of unscalable item score patterns using Item Response Theory: An illustration with Harter's Self-Perception Profile for Children. Journal of personality assessment, 90(3), 227-238. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223890701884921