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Integrity/Honesty Tests

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.


  • Validity - Integrity tests have been shown to be valid predictors of overall job performance as well as many counterproductive behaviors such as absenteeism, illicit drug use, and theft; The use of integrity tests in combination with cognitive ability tests can substantially enhance the prediction of overall job performance (i.e., high degree of incremental validity)
  • Face Validity/Applicant Reactions - May contain items that do not appear to be job related (i.e., low face validity) or seem to reveal applicant's private thoughts and feelings; Applicants may react to integrity tests as being unnecessarily invasive, but strong negative reactions have been found to be rare; Some item types may be highly transparent making it easy for applicants to fake or distort test scores in their favor
  • Administration Method - Can be administered via paper and pencil or electronically
  • Subgroup Differences - Generally, few, if any, average score differences are found between men and women or applicants of different races or ethnicities, therefore it is beneficial to use an integrity measure when another measure with greater potential for adverse impact (e.g., a cognitive test) is included in the selection process; Both overt and personality-based integrity test scores seem to be correlated with age indicating younger individuals have the potential to be more counterproductive employees, possibly because of a youthful tendency towards drug experimentation and other social deviance
  • Development Costs - The cost of purchasing an integrity test is typically less expensive than developing a customized test
  • Administration Costs - Generally inexpensive, requires few resources for administration, and does not require skilled administrators
  • Utility/ROI - High return on investment in settings where counterproductive behaviors (e.g., theft of valuable property or sensitive information, absenteeism) are highly disruptive to organizational functioning
  • Common Uses - Typically used to measure whether applicants have the potential to be successful in jobs where performance requires a high level of honesty and dependability; Frequently administered to large groups of applicants as a screen-out measure


(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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