A psychometric modeling approach to fuzzy rating data

02/08/2021 ∙ by Antonio Calcagnì, et al. ∙ 0

Modeling fuzziness and imprecision in human rating data is a crucial problem in many research areas, including applied statistics, behavioral, social, and health sciences. Because of the interplay between cognitive, affective, and contextual factors, the process of answering survey questions is a complex task, which can barely be captured by standard (crisp) rating responses. Fuzzy rating scales have progressively been adopted to overcome some of the limitations of standard rating scales, including their inability to disentangle decision uncertainty from individual responses. The aim of this article is to provide a novel fuzzy scaling procedure which uses Item Response Theory trees (IRTrees) as a psychometric model for the stage-wise latent response process. In so doing, fuzziness of rating data is modeled using the overall rater's pattern of responses instead of being computed using a single-item based approach. This offers a consistent system for interpreting fuzziness in terms of individual-based decision uncertainty. A simulation study and two empirical applications are adopted to assess the characteristics of the proposed model and provide converging results about its effectiveness in modeling fuzziness and imprecision in rating data.

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