Role Conflict and Ambiguity


This measure was developed by House, Schuler, and Levanoni (1983) to address criticisms that other measures for role conflict and ambiguity were possibly confounded with stress and comfort. That is, other role conflict measures used items that were “stress worded,” whereas other role ambigu­ ity measures used items that were “comfort worded.” In developing this measure of role conflict and ambiguity, House and colleagues (1983) devel­ oped and tested scales for both constructs using a pool of 43 items. These items loaded on two factors with ambiguity items containing a mix of stress/ comfort and self/other worded statements. The conflict factor contained items worded in terms of stress caused by other parties.


Coefficient alpha values for the role conflict and role ambiguity scales ranged from .79 to .86 (O’Driscoll & Beehr, 1994; Westman, 1992).


Role ambiguity correlated positively with role conflict, employee uncertainty, psychological strain, turnover intentions, job dissatisfaction, job decision latitude, and employee psychological distress (O’Driscoll & Beehr, 1994; Westman, 1992). Role ambiguity and conflict correlated negatively with job satisfaction (O’Driscoll & Beehr, 1994). Harris (1991) found evi­ dence that employee role conflict and ambiguity may result only when the sources are perceived as external. Employees may categorize internal sources of role conflict and ambiguity differently.


House, R. J., Schuler, R. S., & Levanoni, E. (1983). Role conflict and am­ biguity scales: Reality or artifacts? Journal of Applied Psychology, 68(2), 334-337. Items were taken from Table 1, p. 336. Copyright© 1983 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted with permission.


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

Role ambiguity items:

  1. My authority matches the responsibilities assigned to me (R)
  2. I don’t know what is expected of me
  3. My responsibilities are clearly defined (R)
  4. I feel certain about how much authority I have (R)
  5. I know what my responsibilities are (R)
  6. I have clear planned goals and objectives for my job (R)
  7. The planned goals and objectives are not clear
  8. I don’t know how I will be evaluated for a raise or promotion
  9. I know what is expected of me (R)
  10. Explanations are clear of what has to be done (R)
  11. My boss makes it clear how he will evaluate my performance (R)

Role conflict items:

  1. I often get myself involved in situations in which there are conflicting requirements.
  2. There are unreasonable pressures for better performance
  3. I am often asked to do things that are against my better judgment
  4. I receive an assignment without adequate resources and materials to execute it
  5. I have to buck a rule or policy in order to carry out an assignment
  6. I receive incompatible requests from two or more people
  7. I have to do things that should be done differently under different conditions.

Items denoted with (R) are reverse scored.

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