Role Conflict and Ambiguity scale


This measure, developed by Rizzo, House, and Lirtzman (1970), was one of the first measures of role ambiguity and role conflict. A lack of necessary information regarding role expectation for a given organizational position has been defined as role ambiguity. Role conflict was defined as a condition of when employees have incompatible roles defined by supervisors or other members of an organization. This measure includes intrarole,  interrole, and intersender conflict, as well as ambiguity due to lack of role predictabil­ity, role clarity, and role certainty (Bedeian, Mossholder, Kemery, & Armenakis, 1990).


Coefficient alpha values for role conflict ranged from .71 to .87, and alpha values for role ambiguity ranged from .71 to .95 (Adkins, 1995; Bauer & Green 1994; Dobbins, Cardy, & Platz-Vieno, 1990; Fisher & Shaw, 1994; Fortunato, Jex, & Heinish, 1999; Fried, 1998; Fried & Tiegs, 1995; Gregersen & Black, 1992; Hemingway, 1999; Jex, 1999; Morrison, 1997; Netemeyer et al., 1995; Pearson, 1992; Schaubroeck et al., 1993; Siegall, 1992; Zellars, Perrewe, & Hochwarter, 1999).


Though the role conflict and role ambiguity measures have been used exten­sively, some scholars have raised concerns about the content validity, sus­ceptibility to wording biases and factor structure of this measures (King & King, 1990; Smith, Tisak, & Schmieder, 1993). Netemeyer and colleagues (1995) evaluated alternative structural models and showed that role conflict and role ambiguity are distinct constructs (Netemeyer et al., 1995; Netemeyer, Johnston, & Burton, 1990). Harris and Bladen (1994) also found that role conflict and ambiguity were empirically distinct from role over­ load, job satisfaction, and job tension. Smith et al. (1993) also found that role conflict and ambiguity were empirically distinct in three samples.

Role conflict had direct effects on job tension and job satisfaction. Role ambiguity did not directly affect job tension or satisfaction. Neither role conflict nor role ambiguity directly affected propensity to leave (Netemeyer et al., 1990). In Fried (1998), both role conflict and ambiguity correlated negatively with job performance. Williams, Podsakoff, and Huber (1992) found that the role conflict measure distinguished between different groups of university administrators experiencing distinct levels of role stress.


Rizzo, J., House, R. J., & Lirtzman, S. I. (1970). Role conflict and role ambi­guity in complex organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 15, 150- 163 , Items were taken from Table 1, p. 156. Copyright© 1970. Reproduced with permission.


Responses are obtained on a 7-point Likert-type scale where 1 = strongly disagree and 7 = strongly agree.

Role conflict items:

  1. I have to do things that should be done differently
  2. I have to buck a rule of a policy in order to carry out an assignment
  3. I receive incompatible requests from two or more people
  4. I do things that are apt to be accepted by one person and not accepted by others
  5. I work on unnecessary things
  6. I work with two or more groups who operate quite differently
  7. I receive assignments without the manpower to complete them
  8. I receive assignments without adequate resources and material to execute them

Role ambiguity items:

  1. I know exactly what is expected of me (R)
  2. I know that I have divided my time properly (R)
  3. Explanation is clear of what has to be done (R)
  4. I feel certain about how much authority I have (R)
  5. I know what my responsibilities are (R)
  6. Clear, planned goals and objectives exist for my job (R)

Items denoted by (R) are reverse scored.

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Mohammed Looti, PSYCHOLOGICAL SCALES (2023) Role Conflict and Ambiguity scale. Retrieved from DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.31575.96163