Using Honesty Tests: Establishing Cutting Scores, Dealing with the False Positive Problem, Training Users, and Identifying Barriers to Testing
In Chapter 5 we considered aspects of the tests that need to be taken into account in making decisions about the test to use. Now we take up a series of issues related to the way in which tests are used. These are matters in which test publishers may or may not involve themselves. Yet ultimately they are matters that users should take into their own hands, and thus for which they should assume responsibility. If users do not, it is unlikely that they will get as much out of their investment in the testing as they could.
A cutting score on an honesty test is the score below which applicants will not be hired, assuming that high scores reflect a greater amount of honesty. If cutting scores are set very low there will be little selection; almost everyone who applies will be considered eligible for hiring. If the cut is made at a very high level most applicants will be rejected, with the result that recruiting costs can accumulate to substantial levels simply to maintain a sufficient applicant pool, or positions may remain unfilled for long periods of time. Obviously the answer, if a cutting score is needed, is to set that score somewhere in between these extremes, but where exactly is this happy medium?
A good deal has been written to provide guidance on this matter. Useful sources are an article by Wayne Cascio, Ralph Alexander, and Gerald Barrett in Personnel Psychology ( 1988) and another by Richard Biddle in Public Personnel Management ( 1993). These sources indicate that any approach requires an element of judgment. There is no simple formula that can be applied. In fact, the ideal approach is to avoid using a cutting score at all. This can be achieved