2 responses

  1. Jeromy Anglim
    April 20, 2010

    It’s interesting to think about the similarities and differences between cheating on a personality test and cheating in other contexts such as on an assignment.

    One thought I had:
    To what extent is cheating a binary variable?
    On personality tests there is certainly a spectrum from a mild-positive spin to complete fabrication.
    Likewise, on assignments there are borderline cases such as getting inspiration from reading another students code to extreme cases of submitting another student’s assignment as your own.

    When I’ve looked at some of my lab-based studies of within-subject change in personality test scores between honest and applicant conditions, a much larger percentage of participants showed a small increase in scores when in an applicant condition (approx 5 to 15% of participants), whereas only a few participants showed evidence of extreme faking (approx 1 to 3% of participants).

  2. Richard N. Landers
    April 21, 2010

    That’s actually an issue we had to address in that paper – it’s difficult to distinguish between outright cheating and other patterns of response distortion that are not necessarily dishonest – like responding in a socially desirable fashion. There’s definitely a psychological distinction, and I think that is definitely binary: people are either trying to “game” the test or they aren’t. Whether they are successful at it is another matter.

    The pattern we found in that field data set referenced was actually substantial enough that we could definitely see that some people were engaging in such a purposeful attempt to enhance their scores. But we also had 17000 cases. The problem was distinguishing between those engaging in the response distortion pattern (cheaters) and those naturally responding in that pattern. We also had the added benefit of having people re-taking – if the test-takers got a score they thought was too low, they were able to re-take the test, and the score changes between Test and Retest was substantial – about 1.4 SD – with a much higher base rate of cheating the second time around.

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