Surveys commonly suffer from insufficient effort responding (IER). If not accounted for, IER can cause biases and lead to false conclusions. In particular, Cronbach’s alpha has been empirically observed to either deflate or inflate due to IER. This paper will elucidate how IER impacts Cronbach’s alpha in a variety of situations. Previous results concerning internal consistency under mixture models are extended to obtain a characterization of Cronbach’s alpha in terms of item validities, average variances, and average covariances. The characterization is then applied to contaminating distributions representing various types of IER. The discussion will provide commentary on previous simulation-based investigations, confirming some previous hypotheses for the common types of IER, but also revealing possibilities from newly considered responding patterns. Specifically, it is possible that the bias can change from negative to positive (and vice versa) as the proportion of contamination increases.
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