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An integrity test is a specific type of personality test designed to assess an applicant's tendency to be honest, trustworthy, and dependable. A lack of integrity is associated with such counterproductive behaviors as theft, violence, sabotage, disciplinary problems, and absenteeism. Integrity tests have been found to measure some of the same factors as standard personality tests, particularly conscientiousness, and perhaps some aspects of emotional stability and agreeableness.
Integrity tests can also be valid measures of overall job performance. This is not surprising because integrity is strongly related to conscientiousness, itself a strong predictor of overall job performance. Like other measures of personality traits, integrity tests can add a significant amount of validity to a selection process when administered in combination with a cognitive ability test. In addition, few, if any, integrity test performance differences are found between men and women or applicants of different races or ethnicities. Integrity tests will not eliminate dishonesty or theft at work, but the research does strongly suggest that individuals who score poorly on these tests tend to be less suitable and less productive employees.
Overt integrity tests (also referred to as clear-purpose tests) are designed to directly measure attitudes relating to dishonest behavior. They are distinguished from personality-based tests in that they make no attempt to disguise the purpose of the assessment. Overt tests often contain questions that ask directly about the applicant's own involvement in illegal behavior or wrongdoing (e.g., theft, illicit drug use). Such transparency can make guessing the correct answer obvious. Applicant faking is always a concern with overt integrity tests. The score results from such tests should be interpreted with caution.
(See Section VI for a summary of each article)
Cullen, M. J., & Sackett, P. R. (2004). Integrity testing in the workplace. In J. C. Thomas & M. Hersen (Eds.), Comprehensive handbook of psychological assessment, Volume 4: Industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 149-165). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Ones, D. S., Viswesvaran, C., & Schmidt, F. L. (1993). Comprehensive meta-analysis of integrity test validities: Findings and implications for personnel selection and theories of job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 679-703.
Sackett, P. R., & Wanek, J. E. (1996). New developments in the use of measures of honesty, integrity, conscientiousness, dependability, trustworthiness and reliability for personnel selection. Personnel Psychology, 49(4), 787-829.
The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) website contains information on Integrity/Honesty Tests.
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