Why Honesty Tests Have Become So Popular
We do not know how many employers use honesty tests of some type, or how many tests are administered in any given year. Estimates in the literature would suggest some 5,000 to 6,000 firms use the tests and the number tested is in the 2.5 to 5 million range. However, these figures are all outdated, some by as much as 10 years or more. In the period since the figures were generated the Polygraph Protection Act has taken hold, various controversies that had a damping effect on the market at least for the moment have been resolved, and the psychological community has come to have a more favorable perception of the tests. As Walter Haney , George Madaus, and Robert Lyons ( 1993) note, "The one realm in which employment testing clearly seems to have increased sharply in recent years is with respect to pencil and paper honesty testing" (p. 89). Although this growth is spread across employment sectors, it appears most pronounced in wholesale and retail trade.
At any given time there would seem to be something like 50 tests on the market, often with several different versions available. There are almost as many honesty test publishers. These publishers have been rather secretive in the past, although many are now becoming more open, and sales figures are impossible to obtain in most cases. In spite of the large number of tests available, however, it appears that the three larger publishers have at least 50 percent of the market, and by some estimates as much as 70 percent; thus there is a substantial degree of concentration in the industry. The Michael O'Bannon, Linda Goldinger, and Gavin Appleby ( 1989) volume contains a good discussion of the extent and nature of the honesty testing industry up through the 1980s.
Although this brief review is far from definitive regarding just how popular the procedure is, there is no question that honesty testing does possess considerable popularity, especially in certain business sectors. Furthermore, the fore