A New Weapon in the Fight Against Faking on Personality Tests (IO Psychology)
Topic: Faking, Personality, Selection
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Testing the efficacy of a new procedure for reducing faking on personality tests within selection contexts
Authors: Fan, J. Gao., D., Carroll, S.A., Lopez, F.J., Tian, T.S., & Meng, H.
Reviewer: Neil Morelli
Has your organization ever used, or ever considered using a personality test as part of their selection battery? Due to personality tests’ predictive validity and relatively low subgroup differences, you’re not alone. However, one controversial issue still plagues the use of personality tests in selecting applicants: faking. Faking is defined as the intentional distortion of responses to portray a more positive image, and it can negatively affect the validity of the selection device. Fortunately, Fan et al. have recently tested a new method for identifying and reducing faking on personality tests that uses a computer-based warning system.
Fan et al. admits that there’s nothing new about warning applicants about faking, but the novel component of Fan et al.’s system is how the warning is provided. Instead of a reactive system for reducing faking via statistical controls, the Fan et al. method proactively mitigates faking by first testing for the likelihood of faking on an “initial item block” (this block consists of impression management items, a bogus scale, and a subset of items from the actual personality test). After comparing the scores from this block to a cutoff level for faking, the computer provides “a polite warning” to respondents flagged as potential fakers while non-flagged applicants are given a control message. All respondents are then given the “main item block” (a second testing of the faking items and the full personality measure).
This method’s utility rests in combining best practices from the faking literature: using a proactive mitigation strategy, only providing a warning to potential fakers, and allowing an opportunity for retest. In an organizational quasi-experiment, and a student-based true experiment, Fan et al. was able to demonstrate that flagged applicants lowered their scores after the warning was provided. Another benefit was that the perception of the test was not significantly affected. Admittedly, some of the kinks still need to be
ironed out, but as selection methods become more technologically advanced, new opportunities for reducing faking, such as the Fan et al. method, will be recommended.
Fan, J. Gao., D., Carroll, S.A., Lopez, F.J., Tian, T.S., & Meng, H. (2011). Testing the efficacy of a new procedure for reducing faking on personality tests within selection contexts. Journal of Applied Psychology.
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
To Fake or Not to Fake: Employee Differences in Displaying Emotions
Topic: Faking, Work Environment
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Willing and able to fake emotions: A closer examination of the link between emotional dissonance and employee well-being
Authors: S.D. Pugh, M. Groth & T. Hennig-Thurau
Reviewed By: Benjamin Lee Overstreet
Think about it: If you’re having a bad day, the last thing you want to do at work is put on a smile and say “How can I help you today?” When you have to fake a persona that is in direct conflict with your real emotions, you are experiencing what is called emotional dissonance.
Research shows that emotional dissonance is a stressor to employees; negatively affecting both employee performance and well-being. On the other hand, sometimes the ability to fake positive emotions (surface acting) leads to feelings of personal accomplishment and job satisfaction. So which is it? A study by Pugh et al. suggests that it largely depends on the person.
Pugh et al.’s recent study suggests that while some employees don’t mind faking their emotions, others find it necessary to display their true emotions. In other words, employees differ in their self-concepts for surface acting. Furthermore, their study suggests that some employees are confident in their surface acting abilities, while others are very unsure. Thus, employees also differ in their surface acting self-efficacy.
Results indicate that surface acting self-concept and self-efficacy strongly affect the relationship between surface acting and the outcomes such as job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion.
What Makes a “Good Faker”? And Do We Want Them?
Topic: Faking, Personality Assessment
Publication: Human PerformanceArticle: Individual differences in the ability to fake on personality measures.
Author: P.H. Raymark, T.L. Tafero
Featured by: Benjamin Granger
One common criticism of personality testing is its susceptibility to faking. Faking (i.e., response distortion) occurs when job applicants intentionally misrepresent themselves (e.g., respond in ways that present themselves as more attractive job candidates).
In a recent study, Raymark and Tafero (2009) investigated the role of several individual differences thought to explain why certain job applicants are more able to fake on personality measures than others. Specifically, the authors investigated:
(1) Openness to ideas (individuals high in openness are described as being curious, intelligent, and having a high need for cognition)
(2) Self-monitoring (the extent to which individuals actively monitor their self-presentation and behavior – social chameleons)
(3) Prior knowledge of the personality factors being measured
(4) Prior knowledge of the job an applicant is applying for
Raymark and Tafero utilized a sample of 342 students from a university in the U.S., roughly half of which were instructed to fake their personality in a generally “good” direction and the other half to fake “good” for a specific job – accountant. In addition to completing the personality test while faking, all participants were also instructed to complete the test by responding honestly at a different time during the study.
As expected, the results of the study suggest that certain individual differences are related to the ability to fake. While self-monitoring was not related to faking, individuals who reported being more open to ideas and having more prior knowledge of the personality characteristics being measured tended to have increased scores on the personality measure when to instructed to fake “good” in general. Moreover, openness to ideas predicted faking for the specific job (accountant).
BUT…It is unknown whether this type of faking is actually a “bad” thing (reduces the validity and usefulness of the personality tests) or “good” (actually relates to job performance). Now wait a second… How can faking be “good?”
Consider this: Although we may assume that faking is always a “bad” thing, it is plausible (and some have argued this) that the ability to fake personality tests is actually predictive of job performance. That is, perhaps it is beneficial from a performance point of view to have curious, intelligent and open applicants who are able to fake! So, which is it? According to Raymark and Tafero the answer is still up for debate.