Intentional Response Distortion on Personality Tests: Using Eye-Tracking to Understand Response Processes When Faking

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Intentional response distortion or faking among job applicants completing measures such as personality and integrity tests is a concern in personnel selection. The present study aimed to investigate whether eye-tracking technology can improve our understanding of the response process when faking. In an experimental within-participants design, a Big Five personality test and an integrity measure were administered to 129 university students in 2 conditions: a respond honestly and a faking good instruction. Item responses, response latencies, and eye movements were measured. Results demonstrated that all personality dimensions were fakeable. In support of the theoretical position that faking involves a less cognitively demanding process than responding honestly, we found that response times were on average 0.25 s slower and participants had less eye fixations in the fake good condition. However, in the fake good condition, participants had more fixations on the 2 extreme response options of the 5-point answering scale, and they fixated on these more directly after having read the question. These findings support the idea that faking leads to semantic rather than self-referenced item interpretations. Eye-tracking was demonstrated to be potentially useful in detecting faking behavior, improving detecting rates over and beyond response extremity and latency metrics.

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