[IPAC-List] Use of integrity assessments in public sector

Saul Fine saulfine at zahav.net.il
Fri Jan 3 09:17:16 EST 2014

This is a great discussion, and I agree with much of what has been written here. While integrity tests have been around for a while, there is still some confusion/disagreement regarding if, when and how they should be used. One of the sources of this confusion is likely related to the term integrity itself – As many of you probably already know, integrity tests are essentially designed to predict counterproductive work behaviors (CWB). This is not necessarily the same thing as measuring traits of “integrity” or “honesty” per se, and thus it may be fairer to say that these tests measure risks towards CWB. Perhaps if integrity tests were more often viewed as measures of risk potential, the issue of incorrectly labeling candidates as dishonest would be reduced; they might also be viewed as more similar other selection tools, and thereby more “politically” appropriate for the public sector as well. Like many tools – it really depends on how the tests are positioned and used in the selection process. In all events, I totally agree that integrity tests should not be used as the sole basis for making hiring decisions (should any test?), and results should certainly be followed up with additional assessments (e.g., integrity interviews, reference checks). On the other hand, this is difficult to enforce, and practitioners can really only recommend doing so. Another solution is to keep cut-scores low, as a means to reduce false positives.
For those interested in reading more - The ATP has published the “Model Guidelines for Pre-employment Integrity Testing” which can be found here: http://www.testpublishers.org/book-store.

From: Ronald Clare
Sent: Friday, January 03, 2014 5:06 AM
To: Winfred Arthur, Jr
Cc: IPAC-List
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] Use of integrity assessments in public sector

That is a fair summary.

Sent from my iPad

On Jan 2, 2014, at 9:44 PM, "Winfred Arthur, Jr" <w-arthur at neo.tamu.edu> wrote:

Ronald, fair enough and concur w/ the points that you make. but the psychometric issue, which is what the DoL text pertained to, is different from the political and administrative one. i believe that is the distinction Dennis was alluding to. so i guess, my summary of the discussion (so far) would be that these tests may not be suitable for the public sector, not b/c of their alleged psychometric deficiencies but b/c of specified political and administrative constraints or realities? would you consider this to be a fair summary?

On 1/2/2014 7:46 PM, Ronald Clare wrote:

The public nature of all selection decisions we make allow for riskier implications for all parties. We've all seen surveys (Cosmo, People, etc.) that report remarkably high percentages of folks who "cheat" on their taxes, tell "white lies" to our friends, etc. no one would receive a perfect score. Many people don't "peddle influence" when they don't have any influence. Since no one would get a perfect score, what's the minimum level of integrity we would permit and how would it play on the front page when they cross the line. Negligent hiring?? Private sector practices are often effective Because they are kept private. In Florida, virtually everything is subject to open records. I've had similar pr problems with lie detector results and Psych testing.

Sent from my iPad

On Jan 2, 2014, at 7:51 PM, Dennis Doverspike <dennisdoverspike at gmail.com> wrote:

Reid, (and others)

Interesting question - because Saul Fine just had an article in PPM on Practical Guidelines for Implementing Preemployment Integrity Tests. 42(2) 281-292. He notes the same paradox - the lack of use in the public sector. He offers explanatory factors, which I will not repeat here.

I am not an attorney.We probably need an attorney here - someone like Ines or Jeff - but without being an attorney, I think the difference relates to privacy laws and the 4th Amendement.

Part of the issue may be that all errors are not created equal.Winfred points out an obvious flaw in the DOL argument, in that integrity tests probably result in far fewer errors than other tests. However, the error with an integrity test is that you are saying a person is dishonest. Saying someone is dishonest in the private sector is one thing, but it can be trickier in the public sector where a person has wider privacy protections than you do with the private sector. Yes, the same argument can be made about personality tests, but can probably be made even more directly about integrity tests, even if the questions on the two tests are almost identical (there is still a difference between saying someone is not hard working enough and saying there is dishonest, regardless of the questions). But this is just a guess. I remember from teaching forensic psychology that there have been a number of cases where public sector employees have argued for privacy rights that do not apply to the private sector, which could easily be extended to integrity tests. (Note, I am not agreeing or disagreeing with this argument, I am just offering the hypothesis that one of the reasons for not adopting integrity tests related to the differences in privacy protection in the public and private sector).

I believe IO solutions also has some material on integrity tests and the public sector on their website.

On Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 6:47 PM, Winfred Arthur, Jr <w-arthur at neo.tamu.edu> wrote:

Jim, i cannot help but note that my reading and understanding of the extant literature is quite at odds w/ the broad sweeping stmt that is represented by the 1st sentence of the DoL text. and whereas there are aspects of this work that one could quibble about, for instance, as a starting point, see Table 1 and Table 2 of Schmidt and Hunter (1998; this the Psych Bull "validity and utility of selection methods in personnel selection" paper). the respective "integrity tests" criterion-related validities for "overall job performance" and "overall performance in job training programs" are .41 and .38.

and concerning the subsequent sentences/advice . . . would that not be the case for any predictor? is this inherently peculiar to integrity tests?

- winfred

On 1/2/2014 5:27 PM, Jim Kuthy wrote:

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s publication, “Testing and Assessment: An Employer’s Guide to Good Practices,” (2000)(see http://www.onetcenter.org/dl_files/empTestAsse.pdf) …

“All honesty and integrity measures have appreciable prediction errors. To minimize prediction

errors, thoroughly follow up on poor-scoring individuals with retesting, interviews, or reference

checks. In general, integrity measures should not be used as the sole source of information for

making employment decisions about individuals.”

I couldn’t have said it better.


Jim Kuthy, Ph.D.

Principal Consultant | Biddle Consulting Group, Inc.
193 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 270 | Folsom, CA 95630
(916) 294-4250 ext. 239 | Fax: (916) 294-4255
www.biddle.com | www.criticall911.com | www.opac.com | www.affirmativeaction.com

From: Reid Klion [mailto:RKlion at panpowered.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2014 2:38 PM
To: ipac-list at ipacweb.org
Subject: [IPAC-List] Use of integrity assessments in public sector

Happy 2014 to all!

I am curious about the group’s thoughts about a question that was recently posed by a colleague regarding the use of integrity tests in the public sector. Integrity tests are used fairly broadly in the private sector for individuals applying for “positions of trust.” However, neither of us were aware of their usage in the public sector (setting aside the use of psychological assessments for the selection of public safety officers which uses a different set of assessments much broader in scope ). Anyone have any thoughts or anecdata? Thanks-


Reid E. Klion, Ph.D.

Chief Science Officer

pan - Performance Assessment Network, Inc.

11590 North Meridian St.

Suite 200

Carmel, IN 46032 USA

317.814.8808 Office

317.908.4312 Mobile

317.814.8888 Fax

rklion at panpowered.com


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Dennis Doverspike, PhD., ABPP
Licensed Psychologist, #3539 (OHIO)
Independent Consultant
Professor of Psychology, University of Akron
dennisdoverspike at gmail.com

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