What Are They?
Normative items are used mainly in personality questionnaires, and are important in psychometric testing as they can delve into the personality traits of candidates and compare them to others who have taken the test. This makes personality a measurable scale. The Normative style questionnaire involves a ‘Likert-type’ scale, in which the test taker has to rate how strongly they agree with a statement on a scale of 1-5 (strongly agree to strongly disagree).
There is no way for individuals taking the test to deviate from what is being asked of them, and is therefore a straight forward way of assessing and comparing peoples answers; ultimately making an index of ‘normal’ characteristics.
The main fault with this type of approach is that it lends itself to problems such as fatigue effect, meaning the test taker may become bored of the questionnaire and so just randomly tick boxes so as to get through the test quickly. The second is the social desirability bias, the test taker may answer questions in a way that make them appear in a good-light, rather than how they actually feel/behave. So, although the normative item approach is good for finding out the normal characteristics of a sample of people, it can be easily misused.
A better approach to personality questionnaires would be the ipsative approach, or a mixture of both ipsative and normative; meaning the consistency of the test taker’s answers can be compared for accuracy.