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Most companies are experiencing increased competitive business environment such that the concerned employers are making use of employment testing as a criterion to improving their manpower. In the workplace, cognitive ability tests are the most commonly employed form of psychological testing. However, personality tests qualify to be the form of psychological testing that is most frequently used in workplace. According to Hart & Sheldon (2007), personality tests can be defined as self-report measures of temperaments, dispositions, or traits. There are many types of personality measures available, such that some personality measures center on characterizing individuals in the normal adult scope of functioning, and others center on the recognition of psychopathology. In due course of personality testing, personality instruments are used, for instance the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) which produce measures of a large number of personality characteristics. Other personality instruments focus on measuring single traits or personality characteristics (Hart & Sheldon, 2007).
In organizations, employers use varied types of personality tests for various purposes. For instance, an insurance company may employ a measure of extroversion-introversion for the selection of applicants in a sales job to ensure that their personality traits match successful officeholders within their sales force. Likewise, a police department may employ the MMPI or a related measure to screen the applicants for psychopathology or mental instability. The most common personality tests that are frequently used include integrity or honesty tests. These types of tests are predominantly used in the financial and retail service industries that constitute low-paying entry level occupations in the settings where workers are not supervised as they collect money for the merchandise they sell. Integrity tests are very important in predicting whether an individual has got a tendency to steal money or merchandise and whether a given job applicant possesses any form of counterproductive work behavior. Integrity tests are frequently used by most employers in workplaces and therefore it is important to discuss them into detail (Hart & Sheldon, 2007).
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Approximations of yearly economic losses to businesses in America that arise due to employee theft range from $15 to $25 billion per annum and about 30 percent of business failures are attributed to employee theft (Landy & M., 2009). Employers are taking into consideration any technique or device that can enable them detect and do away with employee theft. Due to enactment of the 1988 Employee Polygraph Protection Act, a method called pre-employment polygraph was used for screening out applicants in most industries. A large number of polygraphs are used for the purposes of pre-employment selection every year. This Employee Polygraph Protection Act was seen to change everything such that, except in specified circumstances, private employers were not allowed to use the pre-employment polygraph for the purpose of screening out applicants. Because of this, employers now turned to integrity tests for screening out applicants. Through estimations, by 1990, 6,000 organizations employed about 5 million integrity measures every year (Edenborough, 2007).
Presently there is no federal regulation on the use of integrity tests but few states have limited their use with respect to their anti-polygraph legislative act. For instance, the Rhode Island legislative act does not prohibit the use of integrity test, but the requirement is that these tests should be the primary basis for making employment decisions. The use of written techniques in measuring the opinion of honesty have been forbidden by Massachusetts, and it has been found that, in addition to integrity tests, many other techniques such as reference checks, application blanks, and structured interviews have been prohibited (Landy & M., 2009). Different types of integrity tests should be reviewed for the purposes of understanding the risks and benefits of integrity testing. Overt integrity tests, clinical measures, and personality-oriented measures constitute the basic types of integrity tests.
Overt integrity tests
Overt integrity tests were particularly meant for predicting the tendency of job applicants to participate in on-the-job theft as well as other counterproductive conduct in the context of work. They measure varied psychological constructs such as inter-thief loyalty, projection regarding the degree of theft by other individuals, toleration of systematizations for theft, antisocial behaviors and beliefs, admissions of theft-linked activities, and tolerance of other individuals who steal. The commonly employed tests of this type are the Reid Report, the Trustworthiness Attitude Survey, London House PSI, and the Employee Attitude Inventory EAI. These tests usually consist of two sections (Landy & M., 2009).
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Of the sections, the first sections deals with the measuring theft attitudes, which include questions regarding beliefs on the extent and frequency of theft, ruminations concerning theft, evaluation of an individuals' own honesty, and punishment toward theft. The second section includes requests for admissions regarding theft and other counterproductive conduct. Job applicants are required to describe the amount and frequency of theft and other counterproductive or illegal activities. The test items that constitute this type of instrument clearly evaluate the job-related content. An example of questions in this case include 'Provided conditions are right, will everyone still at work?'; 'Do you consider yourself as being too honest to steal anything at workplace?'
A lot of validity research has shown that integrity test scores qualify to predict theft behavior. It has been found that, overt integrity tests predict the theft criteria that follow: ratings of supervisors on regarding employees' dishonesty; theft admissions that are created in a pre-employment polygraph; job applicants with criminal history; and job applicants who have a likelihood of being caught stealing after recruitment. It has been found from a quasi-experimental research that employees who work in those supermarkets which employ integrity tests experience less theft by the coworkers as compared to employees who work in a coupled group of supermarkets in which there was no screening of employees by the use of integrity tests.
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These are the types of integrity measures that were initially meant to identify psychopathology. It was later found that clinical measures can be employed by trained psychologists to make a diagnostic opinion concerning the integrity of an applicant. The best example of clinical measures is the MMPI. It comprises of 550 questions that cover psychosomatic symptoms, health, family and matrimonial issues, delusions and phobias, and religious, sexual, social and political attitudes. In clinical measures, most of the items that constitute this type's instruments are not plainly job-related (Landy & M., 2009). An example is, 'My sex life proves to be satisfactory.'
Personality-oriented measures are usually developed by psychologists. They are closely associated with the normal-range personality evaluation devices, for example, the California personality Inventory. Personality-oriented measures are not explicitly intended to measure theft and theft associated behaviors, but they are intended to predicting a wide range of counterproductive behaviors at workplace by the use of complex measures of personality attributes, such as conscientiousness, sociability, reliability, trustworthiness, and adjustment. Tests that are commonly used in this sort constitute Personnel Reaction Bank, Personal Outlook Inventory, and the PDI Employment Inventory (Landy & M., 2009). Like clinical measures, the test items that constitute this type's instruments are not plainly job-related, for example, 'My spouse seems not to understand my sexual needs.'
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The use of integrity or personality tests in employment has proved to be really beneficial, but it is advisable for employers to carefully weigh the benefits and risks of any given type of test used. Employers should be alerted by experienced employment lawyers on the potential problems so that their employment section procedures and policies will be refined to minimize their vulnerability to liability.
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