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How do you fake a personality test? An investigation of cognitive models of impression-managed responding


  • Shoss, Mindy K.
  • Strube, Michael J


Because faking poses a threat to the validity of personality measures, research has focused on ways of detecting faking, including the use of response times. However, the applicability and validity of these approaches are dependent upon the actual cognitive process underlying faking. This study tested three competing cognitive models in order to identify the process underlying faking and to determine whether response time patterns are a viable method of detecting faking. Specifically, we used a within-subjects manipulation of instructions (respond honestly, make a good impression, make a specific impression) to examine whether the distribution of response times across response scale options (e.g., disagree, agree) could be used to identify faking on the NEO PI-R. Our results suggest that individuals reference a schema of an ideal respondent when faking. As a result, response time patterns such as the well-known inverted-U cannot be used to identify faking.

Suggested Citation

  • Shoss, Mindy K. & Strube, Michael J, 2011. "How do you fake a personality test? An investigation of cognitive models of impression-managed responding," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 116(1), pages 163-171, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:116:y:2011:i:1:p:163-171

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Browne, Glenn J. & Curley, Shawn P. & Benson, P. George, 1999. "The Effects of Subject-Defined Categories on Judgmental Accuracy in Confidence Assessment Tasks, , , , , , , , ," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 134-154, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sweldens, Steven & Puntoni, Stefano & Paolacci, Gabriele & Vissers, Maarten, 2014. "The bias in the bias: Comparative optimism as a function of event social undesirability," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 229-244.
    2. Hauenstein, Neil M.A. & Bradley, Kevin M. & O’Shea, Patrick Gavan & Shah, Yashna J. & Magill, Douglas P., 2017. "Interactions between motivation to fake and personality item characteristics: Clarifying the process," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 74-92.


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