How do you fake a personality test? An investigation of cognitive models of impression-managed responding

Mindy Michelle Shoss, Australian Catholic University
Michael J. Strube


Because faking poses a threat to the validity of personality measures, research has focused on ways of detecting faking, including the use of response times. However, the applicability and validity of these approaches are dependent upon the actual cognitive process underlying faking. This study tested three competing cognitive models in order to identify the process underlying faking and to determine whether response time patterns are a viable method of detecting faking. Specifically, we used a within-subjects manipulation of instructions (respond honestly, make a good impression, make a specific impression) to examine whether the distribution of response times across response scale options (e.g., disagree, agree) could be used to identify faking on the NEO PI-R. Our results suggest that individuals reference a schema of an ideal respondent when faking. As a result, response time patterns such as the well-known inverted-U cannot be used to identify faking.