How Honesty Testing Works

By John B. Miner; Michael H. Capps | Go to book overview
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4 The Storm of Controversy: Validity as Assessed by Reviewers

We have indicated our own assessment of the validity of honesty tests. Some reviewers agree with us; some do not. Of the eight reviews that follow, two are particularly significant. They were widely awaited by potential purchasers of honesty tests, because they appeared to indicate the direction federal legislation would take. As the market awaited these decisions, it often failed to act at all, with the result that test sales leveled off, or even declined for a period.

These reviews were one conducted by the Office of Technology Assessment in 1990, and the other was sponsored and published by the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1991. The latter was authored by Lewis Goldberg (as chair), Julia Grenier, Robert Guion, Lee Sechrest, and Hilda Wing. Earlier, these two sources had combined to sound the virtual death knell of polygraph testing. Would they do so once again, to produce the same result for honesty tests? Many held their breath and did not buy, awaiting a decision. In the end it was a split verdict, and at least for the moment honesty testing did not go the way of the polygraph. Yet, as dramatic as was the situation created by these two reviews, other published reviews have exerted a substantial influence as well. Thus, we need to take a dispassionate look at the total picture. In doing so, we face directly the storm of controversy, and often the conflicting values, that have surrounded the honesty testing arena.


Although we focus on the 1988 review by Michael McDaniel and John Jones published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, a less comprehensive review by the same authors was published in the same journal in 1986. Also, an abbreviated version of the 1988 article constitutes Chapter 8 of John Jones book Preemployment Honesty Testing ( 1991a). All three of these reviews utilize


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How Honesty Testing Works


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