Reconsidering forced-choice item formats for applicant personality assessment

Neil D. Christiansen, Gary N. Burns, George E. Montgomery

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


The effects of motivated distortion on forced-choice (FC) and normative inventories were examined in three studies. Study 1 examined the effects of distortion on the construct validity of the two item formats in terms of convergent and discriminant validity. The results showed that both types of measures were susceptible to motivated distortion, however the FC items were better indicators of personality and less related to socially desirable responding when participants were asked to respond as if applying for a job. Study 2 considered the criterion-related validity of the inventories in terms of predicting supervisors' ratings of job performance, finding that distortion had a more deleterious effect on the validity of the normative inventory with some enhancement of the validity of the FC inventory being observed. Study 3 investigated whether additional constructs are introduced into the measurement process when motivated respondents attempt to increase scores on FC items. Results of Study 3 indicated that individuals higher in cognitive ability tend to have more accurate theories about which traits are job-related and therefore are more successful at improving scores on FC inventories. Implications for using personality inventories in personnel selection are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-307
Number of pages41
JournalHuman Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2005


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