Application of item response theory to tests of substance-related associative memory

Yusuke Shono*, Jerry L. Grenard, Susan L. Ames, Alan W. Stacy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A substance-related word-association test (WAT) is one of the commonly used indirect tests of substance-related implicit associative memory and has been shown to predict substance use. This study applied an item response theory (IRT) modeling approach to evaluate psychometric properties of the alcohol-and marijuana-related WATs and their items among 775 ethnically diverse at-risk adolescents. After examining the IRT assumptions, item fit, and differential item functioning (DIF) across gender and age groups, the original 18 WAT items were reduced to 14 and 15 items in the alcohol-and marijuanarelated WAT, respectively. Thereafter, unidimensional one-and two-parameter logistic models (1PL and 2PL models) were fitted to the revised WAT items. The results demonstrated that both alcohol-and marijuana-related WATs have good psychometric properties. These results were discussed in light of the framework of a unified concept of construct validity (Messick, 1975, 1989, 1995).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)852-862
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Construct validity
  • Item response theory
  • Substance use
  • Word-association test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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