Dissimulation, Intelligence and Personality

By Furnham, Adrian | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, January 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Dissimulation, Intelligence and Personality


Furnham, Adrian, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


One hundred and twenty five adult job applicants completed a computer-administered personality questionnaire (EPP) and two intelligence tests; one of crystalized (Wonderlic) and one of fluid intelligence. There were negative correlations between dissimulation on the personality questionnaire and performance on the two intelligence tests.

It is not entirely clear what faking, lying and dissimulation scales on personality tests actually measure (Furnham, 1986). For instance, the lie (L) score on the Eysenck Personality scales may supply not only a "detection" index but also another personality variable measuring social conformity or naivety. Paulus (1991) has distinguished between two types of socially desirable responses: selfdeception and impression management. The former measures an honest, but overly positive self-presentation, while the latter measures self-presentation tailored to a particular audience. Many researchers have claimed that the various dissimulation measures actually tap into psychological constructs which are of interest in their own right. There seems to be a high degree of consensus as regards the fact that socially desirable responding (i.e., dissimulation, lying) is trait-like in the sense that it is fairly stable over time (Furnham, 1986) though it rarely features in research as an independent trait variable.

Most research on dissimulation has been conducted within the personality area, where it is assumed that particular tests are vulnerable to faking good.

Much less has been done in the area of ability, though many have considered the relationship between personality and intelligence (Brebner & Stough, 1995; Eysenck, 1971; Matthews & Dom, 1995; Rawlings & Camie, 1989; Robinson, 1985; Saklofske & Kostura, 1990). An exception is the work of Iverson (Iverson, 2001; Iverson, Slick, & Franzen, 2000; Iverson, Franzen, & McCracken, 1992) and Slick (Slick, Hopp, Strauss, & Hunter, 1994) who have examined malingering in ability tests. These authors have both specified criteria for "diagnosing" malingering and proposed a number of methods to detect it.

Furnham, Forde, and Cotter (1998a) examined the relationship between the big three Eysenckian personality factors and test-taking style (dissimulation, time taken to complete the test, number of "can't decide" responses) on two intelligence tests; the one of crystalized, the other of fluid intelligence. There seemed to be evidence that both sets of factors were important such that stable introverts who responded quickly with low dissimulation scores did better on the tests.

This is a partial replication of the study mentioned above focusing on the role of dissimulation. People who score high on dissimulation tests are thought to be manifesting a mixture of social conformity and need for social approval. These dispositions are very likely to lead to the well-established faking profile, namely high extraversion, but low neuroticism and psychoticism scores. It also may be expected that there would be a negative correlation with ability tests, as dissimulators would be particularly eager to impress with their intelligence.

METHOD

PARTICIPANTS

There were 125 participants in this study, of whom 80 were males and 45 were females. Their mean age was 32.73 years (SD = 7.72). They were job applicants for a middle-management post, who were required to complete a battery of inventories and tests.

MATERIALS

The Eysenck Personality Profile (EPP) (Eysenck, Barrett, Wilson, & Jackson, 1992). The EPP is a 420-item questionnaire measuring 21 primary and three super-traits. The test is computer administered. Each item has a three-point response scale: yes, no and can't decide. In addition to these 24 scores, the test provides scores on dissimulation (or lie scale), response latency (total amount of time to complete the test recorded in minutes and seconds), and total can't decide responses. …

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