The Effect of Intentional Response Distortion on Personality Factor Structure

Date of Completion

January 2011


Psychology, Personality




The field of personality research has a long history in the American workplace. Personality measures have been used in selection since the 1930's. Along with benefits, such as reducing adverse impact and selecting the right individual for the job, there are potential drawbacks when using personality measures for selection. One of the potential drawbacks is that candidates may intentionally distort their responses in the pursuit of the goal of being selected for a job. This motivated response distortion is referred to as intentional response distortion (IRD). The current study seeks to shed some light on to when and how respondents to a personality measure engage in IRD. ^ Previous research used various methodologies do provide some insight into the likelihood of intentional response distortion and the effects of response distortion on the factor structure of personality measures. However, it is difficult to resolve discrepancies in the findings from such studies because they fail to provide a systematic review of one measure with respondents from a variety of simulated and actual job applicant settings. ^ The current study provides a comparison mechanism by collecting personality data on a common instrument from test takers who included real applicants and laboratory respondents exposed to multiple instructional sets. The current study examined evidence for hypotheses regarding conditions that contribute to IRD and the impact of IRD on the factor structure of a personality inventory. The current study found that responses to a personality measure and the factorial complexity of the measure are affected by the incentive and opportunity to engage in response distortion. ^