A History of Honesty Testing
Society has always attempted to identify dishonest individuals who threaten or commit defalcations against the public order or private interests. Erisistratus ( 200 B.C.) took pulses to detect deception; in Europe and America, trial by combat or ordeal was common ( Inbau & Reid, 1953). Scientific studies to identify the criminal minded began in 1895 with Lombroso ( 1895, 1911) use of a plethysmograph for continuously monitoring blood pressure during the questioning of suspects, anticipating the development of the modern polygraph. Hugo Munsterberg, a pioneer in industrial psychology in the United States ( Munsterberg, 1913), developed two approaches to the measurement of veracity and honesty ( Munsterberg, 1908; Peyser, 1984; Landy, 1988). The first used four physiological measures and the second three "association latency" tests. He also used the term lie detector to describe his instruments and tests.
Honesty research by psychologists was given pause by the Hartshorne and May ( 1928) study of character, which concluded that honesty was probably not a unified and inherent trait. The study of criminal behavior became a major preoccupation of sociologists. The rising discipline of criminology was captured in the 1920s by sociology ( Andrews & Wormith, 1989), and the individual as the unit of study (personality dimensions and individual differences) practically disappeared. Instead the leading criminological theories focused on social disorganization and structural issues such as poverty, oppression, and discrimination.
Later reanalysis of the Hartshorne and May data ( Burton, 1963), however,