Can Behaving in a Socially Desirable Fashion Equal Faking?
How Social Desirability Scales WorkSocial desirability scales typically contain items which resemble the following:
- I try to follow the rules.
- I would never cheat on my taxes.
- I would never take things that aren’t mine.
Why They Can Be ProblematicThe difficulty present when using social desirability scales to identify applicants who may be trying to fake an assessment, is that there has been little research demonstrating a strong statistical relationship between scores on social desirability scales and observed applicant faking. Additionally, social desirability scales are themselves susceptible to being faked! For these reasons, it is unlikely that these types of scales will be useful for correctly identifying applicants who are purposefully attempting to fake, and particularly problematic for attempting to statistically “correct” assessment scores.
Implications for PracticeOrganizations worried about applicants attempting to fake their assessments would be best served to follow these suggestions:
- Where possible, utilize multiple assessments in selection systems.
- Include assessments which are less susceptible to “faking”.
- Consider adding assessments which do not rely on applicant self-reports.
- Cease attempts to statistically “correct” applicant scores based on results from social desirability scales.
- Most importantly, follow up with applicants suspected of faking.
The DeGarmo GroupThis was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Griffith, R.L., & Peterson, M.H. (2008). The Failure of Social Desirability Measures to Capture Applicant Faking Behavior. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 1, 308-311.