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Nonvolitional Faking on a Personality Measure: Testing the Influence of Unconscious Processes
Personality measures were predicted to be susceptible to response distortion above and beyond volitional strategies of impression management. A 2 (Instruction Set) x 2 (Personality Feedback) x 2 (Mortality Salience) factorial design addressed social desirability biases in responding to personality measures. There were significant changes in all measures due to volitional (Fake Good) strategies. Thoughts of death lead to decreased distortion, but only on the measures sensitive to social desirability bias. Mortality Salience interacted with personality feedback, such that test responses were distorted in the opposite direction of the feedback, supporting Optimal Distinctiveness Theory. A significant interaction between Mortality Salience and Instruction Set suggests further attention be given to unconscious distortion in personality scores and that Terror Management Theory incorporate further research on individual differences.