Satisficing in mental health care patients: The effect of cognitive symptoms on self-report data quality

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Assessment (2017)




careless responding; cognitive psychopathology symptoms; response inconsistency; satisficing; validity indices


Respondents may use satisficing (i.e., nonoptimal) strategies when responding to self-report questionnaires. These
satisficing strategies become more likely with decreasing motivation and/or cognitive ability (Krosnick, 1991). Considering
that cognitive deficits are characteristic of depressive and anxiety disorders, depressed and anxious patients may be prone
to satisficing. Using data from the Netherland’s Study of Depression and Anxiety (N = 2,945), we studied the relationship
between depression and anxiety, cognitive symptoms, and satisficing strategies on the NEO Five-Factor Inventory. Results
showed that respondents with either an anxiety disorder or a comorbid anxiety and depression disorder used satisficing
strategies substantially more often than healthy respondents. Cognitive symptom severity partly mediated the effect of
anxiety disorder and comorbid anxiety disorder on satisficing. The results suggest that depressed and anxious patients
produce relatively low-quality self-report data—partly due to cognitive symptoms. Future research should investigate the
degree of satisficing across different mental health care assessment contexts.