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The research article under consideration for analysis is by Bacharach and Bamberger (2007) titled “9/11 and New York City firefighters’ post hoc unit support and control climates: A context theory of the consequences of involvement in traumatic work-related events.” The focus of this paper is on scales’ validity, measurements, anonymity, ambiguity and response sets. The paper will also characterize the DASS survey items and will analyze the sampling used to evaluate the sample strengths and weaknesses and offer recommendations.
The dependent variables depression, anxiety and stress were based on the DASS scale for measuring stress and psychological attributes. The scales ranged from 0 to 3 where 0 implied “did not apply to me at all,” 1 was interpreted as “applied to some degree or some of the time; 2 implied “applied to a considerable degree or a good part of the time,” while 3 implied “applied to the participant very much or most of the time” (Bacharach & Bamberger, 2007, p. 851).
The independent variables of intensity of critical incident involvement were based on a measurement scale of 0 or 1 for affirmative to the 15 modes of involvement while for the four involving self injury a scale of 2 to 5 was used where 2 represented a minor injury with no requirement of treatment and 5 representing severe injury requiring medical attention and being placed on light duty or leave.
The range for post traumatic distress was based on Weiss & Marmar (1997) Impact of Event Scale Revised (IES-R) which entailed a scale of 0 to 4 where 0 implied “not at all,” 1 meant “a little bit,” 2 implied “moderately,” 3 for “quite a bit” and 4 represented “frequently” (p. 56). The current unit control climate was measured on an input scale of 1 to 7 with 1 representing “little or no input” and 7 implying “a great deal of input” (Bacharach & Bamberger, 2007, p. 853).
The current supervisory support climate was to gauge the frequency of support within a scale of 1 representing not at all, to 4 representing very often. The social desirability bias was controlled and measured using the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR) scale.
Other critical incidents involvements were controlled and assessed using the measurement scale used for critical incident involvement with inclusion of the scale indicating the number of times a participant was involved in a critical incident ranging from 0 (implying zero or no times) to 7 (implying seven or even more times).
Face Validity and Measurement analysis
The measurement of psychological states such as depression, anxiety and stress has proven to be reliable especially with the use of the DASS 21 scale. The use of the scale to measure depression, anxiety, and stress is face valid (Miller, Cardinal & Glick, 1997). The critical incident involvement measure used to test the involvement in a critical incident using the 15 modes scale on the affirmative basis is valid.
The Impact of Event Scale-Revised used to measure the post traumatic distress is limited in validity due to the bias in the scales described as “a little bit”, “moderately” and “quite a bit.” The measure for current unit control climate used to test the level of input of the work is valid although it is limited by the use of survey method with the close correlation of the scale from 2 to 6 levels.
The measurement of supervisory climate to test for the frequency of support is valid with the responses clearly outlined. The use of Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding scale to assess and control for social desirability bias is valid although the scale dates back more than ten years from the research year (Johns, 2006).
The current unit control climate requires the input level of the participants in six major decision areas of their employer company while the current supervisory support climate requires information on the frequency of the support of the company to the participants.
On a personal level, I would not answer them truthfully since any negative response would create a bad image for the company and may affect my employment with the company.
Ambiguity and Response Sets Analysis
The current unit control climate measurement scale of the input level of the participants to the six major decisions of the company is ambiguous because input level is dependent on the organizational structure while the six decisions may not be of high significance for some companies.
The four modes scale for measuring the critical incident involvement in terms of the level of physical injury is also ambiguous since only physical injury is relied on while emotional, psychological and other injuries are not assessed.
The current unit control climate that makes use of input scale items is open to multiple responses due to the differences in the companies, current position of the participant of the participant in the company, expectations of the participant on how much they are supposed to be involved and the image this item poses for the company.
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The current supervisory control climate is also open to several interpretations of support from one participant to another since the interpretation of support may be in terms of counseling services, monetary benefits, leaves and so on with the frequency subject to influences of the expectations of the participants and company policy (Johns, 2006).
Classification of DASS Survey Items
|DASS 21 Statements||Depression||Anxiety||Stress|
|I found it hard to wind down||X|
|I was aware of dryness of my mouth||X|
|I couldn’t seem to experience any positive feeling at all||X|
|I experienced breathing difficulty (e.g., excessively rapid breathing, breathlessness in the absence of physical exertion)||X|
|I found it difficult to work up the initiative to do things||X|
|I tended to over-react to situations||X|
|I experienced trembling (e.g., in the hands)||X|
|I felt that I was using a lot of nervous energy||X|
|I was worried about situations in which I might panic and make a fool of myself||X|
|I felt that I had nothing to look forward to||X|
|I found myself getting agitated||X|
|I found it difficult to relax||X|
|I felt down-hearted and blue||X|
|I was intolerant of anything that kept me from getting on with what I was doing||X|
|I felt I was close to panic||X|
|I was unable to become enthusiastic about anything||X|
|I felt I wasn’t worth much as a person||X|
|I felt that I was rather touchy||X|
|I was aware of the action of my heart in the absence of physical exertion (e.g., sense of heart rate increase, heart missing a beat)||X|
|I felt scared without any good reason||X|
|I felt that life was meaningless||X|
The sample used in the analysis included those participants who specified the company they worked for as well as their gender narrowing down the sample to include those 101 companies that had at least five respondents. The final sample was of n= 1,110 with age ranging between 21 and 60 years and a mean age of 33 years.
The sample was not conclusive based on gender differences, while the issue of company specification limited the scope (Johns, 2006). The researchers used probabilistic sampling techniques namely random sampling and stratified random sampling which ensured the generalizability of the findings to similar companies.
The research article under consideration provides relevant scales for the variables under consideration but is faced with the limitations of response ambiguity due to the length of duration between the occurrence of the critical incident and the research which also limits the validity. Anonymity of the respondents was limited while the sample though limited to fit the research relevance does not conclusively cover gender aspects.
Bacharach, S., & Bamberger, P. (2007). 9/11 and New York City firefighters’ post hoc unit support and control climates: A context theory of the consequences of involvement in traumatic work-related events. The Academy of Management Journal, 50(4), 849-868.
Johns, G. (2006). The essential impact of context on organizational behavior. Academy of Management Review, 31, 396–408.
Miller, C., Cardinal, B., & Glick, H. (1997). Retrospective reports in organizational research: A reexamination of recent evidence. Academy of Management Journal, 40, 189–204.
Weiss, D., & Marmar, C. (1997). The Impact of Event Scale-Revised. New York: Guildford.