Fakability of Different Measurement Methods for Achievement Motivation: Questionnaire, Semi-Projective, and Objective

By Ziegler, Matthias; Schmidt-Atzert, Lothar et al. | Psychology Science, October 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Fakability of Different Measurement Methods for Achievement Motivation: Questionnaire, Semi-Projective, and Objective


Ziegler, Matthias, Schmidt-Atzert, Lothar, Bühner, Markus, Krumm, Stefan, Psychology Science


Abstract

Different means can be applied to assess noncognitive personality aspects: projective, semiprojective, self-report, and objective. However, so far little attention has been paid towards the different fakability of these methods. The present study investigated this question with different achievement motivation instruments. The instruments were randomly administered to three student groups: fake bad (n = 41), fake good (n = 37), and control group (n = 41). The faking groups were given specific faking instructions while the control group only received the standard instructions. All instruments were applied computer-assisted. The results show that all tests are fakeable with the exception of the objective measure which could not be faked good as was expected. The effect sizes (d) ranged from .10 to 2.36. Cut-off scores for the detection of faking were computed based on sensitivity as well as specificity. Moreover, they were tested within a second student sample (n = 123). Sensitivity and specificity values are reported. The practical implications for test authors and practitioners are discussed.

Key words: self-rating, objective test, semiprojective test, achievement motivation, faking

A lot of research exists which demonstrates the effects of faking on noncognitive measures (e.g. Bradley & Hauenstein, 2006; Furnham, 1997; Khorramdel & Kubinger, 2006; Marcus, 2006; Mueller-Hanson, Heggestad, & Thornton, 2003, 2006; Ones, Viswesvaran, Dilchert, & Deller, 2006; Pauls & Crost, 2004; Ramsay, Schmitt, Oswald, Kim, & Gillespie, 2006; Rosse, Stecher, Miller, & Levin, 1998; Topping & O'Gorman, 1997; Viswesvaran & Ones, 1999). However, most of the research used self-reports. While these results are very informative they overlook that noncognitive personality aspects can also be assessed with other measures: projective, semi-projective, and objective. Therefore, the present study investigated in how far these methods differ in regard to their fakability, and how people rate the subjective ease of faking. Moreover, we tried to use cut-off scores to detect faking. There are only few constructs which can be assessed with all of these methods. We used achievement motivation. In the following sections a short overview of achievement motivation and results from faking research will be given before the hypotheses will be presented.

Achievement Motivation. One of the first researchers who displayed an interest in achievement motivation was Henry Murray (1938). His definition of need for achievement was: "To accomplish something difficult. To master, manipulate or organize physical objects, human beings, or ideas. To do this as rapidly and as independently as possible. To overcome obstacles and attain a high standard. To excel one's self. To rival and surpass others. To increase self-regard by the exercise of talent." (Murray, 1938, p. 164). While this definition was broad and covered a wide range of human behaviour, newer definitions are smaller. Cassidy and Lynn (1989) define achievement motivation in general as the personal striving of individuals to attain goals within their social environment. According to Spinath (2001) it comprises such dimensions as need for or pursuit of excellence, work ethic, setting and meeting goals, competitiveness, and status aspiration. McClelland, Koestner, and Weinberger (1989) differentiated between implicit and explicit motives. Implicit motives can only be assessed using projective or objective tests and supposedly predict spontaneous behavioral trends over time. Explicit motives on the other hand can be measured with selfreports and predict immediate specific responses to specific situations or choice behaviour (for an extensive overview see McClelland et al., 1989). Research focused mostly on maximizing reliability and validity of these tests (Spangler, 1992) because such parameters provide a good basis for predicting behavior. The prediction of behavior is especially relevant in a personnel selection context. …

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