ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (11): 1395-1404.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2015.01395

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Faking in Job Applicants' Responses in Personality Tests: #br# Evidence from A Eye-Tracking Study of Job Desirability

XU Jianping1; CHEN Jiyue1,2; ZHANG Wei1; LI Wenya1; SHENG Yu1   

  1. (1 School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing Key Lab for Applied Experimental Psychology, Beijing 100875, China)
    (2 Department of infrastructure business, China State Construction Engrg. Corp. LTD, Beijing 100044, China)
  • Received:2014-12-23 Published:2015-11-25 Online:2015-11-25
  • Contact: XU Jianping, E-mail:



One of the important concerns in personnel selection process has been job applicants’ faking behaviors in Personality tests (or measurement or evaluation). Although many studies have been done on faking behaviors in personality tests, no consensus has yet reached regarding the response processes of faking behaviors in personality tests. At present, researchers have proposed three mutually incompatible social–desirability–based response process models of faking in personality tests: the Self–Schema Model, the Sematic–Exercise Model and the Adopted–Schema Model. In the Adopted–Schema Model, test items are classified as social desirable and social undesirable, but items unrelated to social desirability are neglected. Besides, more and more researchers are inclined to consider faking in personnel selection as a job desirable behavior instead of a social desirable one. Therefore, this study tried to explore job applicants’ faking response in personality tests from the perspective of job desirability with the help of eye–tracking techniques.
First, fifty participants rated the job desirability of 44 items in Big Five Inventory (BFI-44). Based on the rating scores, BFI-44 items were classified into three categories: job desirable items, job undesirable items and items unrelated to job desirability. Second, in a within–subject simulation experiment design, another fifty participants completed the BFI-44 in two conditions – honest vs. faking in an eye–tracking laboratory. To eliminate order effect, these 50 participants were randomly assigned to the two groups. The first group went through the honest condition and then the faking condition. The second group followed the reversed order. The participants were instructed to complete six items from Mensa IQ test as a filler task between the two sessions. Item responses, response latencies, and eye movement index were recorded using Tobii 120.
The results showed that test scores on all of the five dimensions of the Big Five Inventory under the faking condition were significantly higher than the scores under the honest condition.The response latencies on items in the categories of job desirable and job undesirable were significantly shorter in the faking condition than the response latencies in both categories in the honest condition. The number of eye fixations was significantly lower on the question stems than on the extreme options of the categories of items on job desirable and job undesirable in the faking condition, when compared with the honest condition. In the category of items unrelated to job desirability, the number of eye fixations was significantly more in the faking condition than in the honest condition. The same pattern of eye fixations was found on the options in the middle. In the faking condition, the participants’ eyes fixed on extreme options (i.e., strongly disagree and strongly agree) more directly after reading the questions.
These findings support the idea that faking leads to semantic–exercise interpretations on job desirable and job undesirable items, as well as self–schema interpretations on items unrelated to job desirability. The response process in the faking condition seemed to be simpler than the response process in the honest condition, when answering the items in the categories of job desirability and job undesirability. Based on the findings, the job–desirability–based Mixed–Exercise Model has been proposed, in an attempt to explain faking response in personality tests.

Key words: faking, personality test, personnel selection, eye movement