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Update for Users of the JDI: New National Norms for the Job Descriptive Index

Jenifer A. Kihm Patricia C. Smith Jennifer L. Irwin

Bowling Green State University


The Job Descriptive Index (JDI), the most widely used measure of job satisfaction in the U.S. (DeMeuse, 1985) has recently been modified and renormed. The JDI measures five facets of employee satisfaction: satisfaction with the work itself, satisfaction with pay, satisfaction with opportunities for promotion, satisfaction with supervision, and satisfaction with co-workers. The JDI, introduced almost 30 years ago (Smith, Kendall, & Hulin, 1969), was modified in 1985 by the JDI Research Group. The 1985 revision resulted in 11 of the original 72 items being replaced. The original JDI norms were also updated at that time. A national sample was not collected for the 1985 renorming; the old norms were transformed using equipercentile equating (Smith et al., 1987).

In 1996, the JDI Research Group initiated another renorming effort with the goals of developing current norms for the JDI, and developing initial norms for the Job in General scale (JIG), which measures overall job satisfaction. Questionnaires containing the JDI and JIG were mailed to employed persons within the U.S. between 18 and 70 years of age. The recipients’ names were acquired from the U.S. Social Security and Census databases using a random sampling procedure that incorporated stratification by state. The survey response rate was approximately 23%, which resulted in over 1,600 cases containing data on job satisfaction, trust in management, intention to quit, and numerous demographic variables.

Despite efforts to collect bias-free data, which included follow-up mailings, multiple survey administrations, and monetary incentives for participation, some difference in response rates among subgroups occurred. Certain subgroups were slightly over-represented (i.e., persons over the age of 50) while others were slightly under-represented (i.e., persons under the age of 30). Therefore, overall norms for the U.S. work force were not developed. Rather, norms were created by demographic category. Only those categories with significant and meaningful differences in satisfaction among the category levels are published in the Users’ Manual (Balzer et al., 1997). These categories are: (a) job level, (b) organization type (i.e., government, non-profit, for-profit, and self-employed), (c) management status, (d) job tenure, and (e) age.1

In addition to establishing new national norms, the collected data allowed for scale refinement. In recent years, factor analyses of the work subscale have yielded a pattern of results suggesting that the subscale was not unidimensional. Four items consistently "split" from the other 14 items. This second factor appeared to represent a stress component; it correlated highly (r =.56, n =296, p<.0001) with the Stress in General Scale (SIG; Smith et al., 1992). Given that stress and work satisfaction have been viewed as distinct concepts, it was apparent that the work scale needed revision. Nine test items were added to the work subscale on the National Norming Survey. These items were generated by JDI Research Group members who are familiar with the job satisfaction literature. From the 27 items on the survey, 18 items were selected to compose the revised work subscale. The criteria for selecting the final 18 items were: (a) high factor loadings on the first principal factor, and (b) high item-total correlations. As a result of the revision, the coefficient alpha value for the work subscale improved from .82 to .90. In addition, the correlation of the work subscale with the SIG dropped from .38 to .21 in a separate test sample.

The new JDI (1997 revision) and the updated national norms are now available. For more information regarding the JDI, JIG, and the national norms, please contact the JDI Research Group by mail at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403; by phone at (419) 372-8247; or by e-mail at jdi@bgnet.bgsu.edu.



Balzer, W. K., Kihm, J. A., Smith, P.C., Irwin, J. L., Bachiochi, P. D., Robie, C., Sinar, E. F., & Parra, L. F. (1997). Users’ manual for the Job Descriptive Index (JDI; 1997 Revision) and the Job in General (JIG) Scales. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University.

DeMeuse, K. P. (1985). A compendium of frequently used measures in industrial/organizational psychology. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 23, 53-59.

Smith, P. C., Balzer, W. K., Brannick, M. , Chia, W., Eggleston, S., Gibson, W., Johnson, B., Josephson, H., Paul, K., Reilly, C., & Whalen, M. (1987). The revised JDI: A facelift for an old friend. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 24, 31-33.

Smith, P. C., Balzer, W. K., Ironson, G. H., Paul, K. B. Hayes, B., Moore-Hirschl, S., & Parra, L. F. (1992, May). Development and validations of the Stress in General (SIG) scale. Paper presented at the 7th annual Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology convention, Montreal, Canada.

Smith, P. C., Kendall, L. M., & Hulin, C. L. (1969). The measurement of satisfaction in work and retirement. Chicago: Rand McNally.