Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Stockdale, Margaret

Abstract

Personality tests are often utilized in employment selection. Their wide use may be attributed to various studies which suggest that personality is related to job performance. Although personality is widely utilized in various assessment contexts including but not limited to personnel selection settings, both researcher and practitioners continue to criticize the use of measures due to faking behavior or response distortion. Furthermore, these criticisms are warranted because laboratory studies have consistently found that when instructed, respondents are able to alter their scores in order to appear more desirable. Additionally, there is also conforming evidence from field studies which suggest that 20 - 30% of real-world applicants fake in order to gain a competitive advantage in being hired. Faking studies generally define successful faking as the obtainment of the highest scores possible. This study used a recent and alternative conceptualization of successful faking. More specifically, faking is defined as successful if an applicant is able to match his or her responses on a personality test to the perception of what subject matter experts would consider critical traits for success to that job. Psychology and Business students were assigned to an `honest' or `faking' condition and asked to complete a personality test. Students in the honest condition were instructed to describe themselves honest, while students in the faking condition were instructed to describe themselves in the context of applying for a fictional customer service representative position. Additionally, all students completed a measure of emotional intelligence and cognitive ability. Subject matter experts were then surveyed on what they thought was the ideal characteristics for the fictitious position. This study found that business students who were given instructions to fake were able to fake better (obtain a greater match) than psychology students instructed to fake. Furthermore, individual characteristics such as job familiarity, cognitive ability, and emotional intelligence were examined in relation to faking success. Results indicated that only emotional intelligence was predictive of similarity. Moreover, the subscales of use of emotions and regulation of emotions were predicative of similarity. Finally, the limitations of the study and implications of results are presented and discussed further.

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