Identifying Invalid Responders in a Campus Climate Survey: Types, Impact on Data, and Best Indicators

Caihong R. Li, Diane R. Follingstad, Margaret I. Campe, Jaspreet K. Chahal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Self-report surveys that are online, lengthy, and contain sensitive material greatly increase the probability of invalid responding (IR) on the instrument. Most research to inform our identification of invalid responders have not been able to test their methodologies where all these conditions are present. This study systematically adopted 10 IR indicators based on direct, archival, and statistic strategies to identify IR providing answers on a lengthy survey collecting campus climate/violence information that college students (N = 6,995) accessed online. Exploratory factor analysis indicated two internal factors (i.e., careless and extreme responding) underlying these IR indicators. Latent class analysis identified 4.8% of the sample as being invalid responders. Compared with honest responders, invalid responders were significantly more likely to report forms of victimization and a greater negative impact from physical abuse or sexual assault. Of importance, mean scores on victimization scales were significantly higher for invalid responders, illustrating the potential for IR data to skew prevalence rates. IR indicators differentially identified honest and invalid responders. The findings of this study contribute to the systematic investigation of IR with college students completing online and lengthy surveys that address sensitive material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)NP878-NP902
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the Office of the President at the University of Kentucky for financial support of the project as well for institutional support.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • college surveys
  • invalid responding
  • statistical strategies for invalid responding
  • survey measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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