Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 337–356 | Cite as

The Effects of Empirical Keying of Personality Measures on Faking and Criterion-Related Validity

  • Jeffrey M. CucinaEmail author
  • Nicholas L. Vasilopoulos
  • Chihwei Su
  • Henry H. Busciglio
  • Irina Cozma
  • Arwen H. DeCostanza
  • Nicholas R. Martin
  • Megan N. Shaw
Original Paper


We investigated the effects of empirical keying on scoring personality measures. To our knowledge, this is the first published study to investigate the use of empirical keying for personality in a selection context. We hypothesized that empirical keying maximizes use of the information provided in responses to personality items. We also hypothesized that it reduces faking since the relationship between response options and performance is not obvious to respondents. Four studies were used to test the hypotheses. In Study 1, the criterion-related validity of empirically keyed personality measures was investigated using applicant data from a law enforcement officer predictive validation study. A combination of training and job performance measures was used as criteria. In Study 2, two empirical keys were created for long and short measures of the five factors. The criterion-related validities of the empirical keys were investigated using Freshman GPA (FGPA) as a criterion. In Study 3, one set of the empirical keys from Study 2 was applied to experimental data to examine the effects of empirical keying on applicant faking and on the relationship of personality scores and cognitive ability. In Study 4, we examined the generalizability of empirical keying across different organizations. Across the studies, option- and item-level empirical keying increased criterion-related validities for academic, training, and job performance. Empirical keying also reduced the effects of faking. Thus, both hypotheses were supported. We recommend that psychologists using personality measures to predict performance should consider the use of empirical keying as it enhanced validity and reduced faking.


Personality Faking Empirical keying Validity Training performance Job performance Academic performance Freshman grade point average Five-factor model Impression management 

Supplementary material

10869_2018_9544_MOESM1_ESM.docx (38 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 38 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey M. Cucina
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nicholas L. Vasilopoulos
    • 3
  • Chihwei Su
    • 2
  • Henry H. Busciglio
    • 2
  • Irina Cozma
    • 4
  • Arwen H. DeCostanza
    • 5
  • Nicholas R. Martin
    • 6
  • Megan N. Shaw
    • 7
  1. 1.George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Customs and Border ProtectionWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.National Security AgencyFort MeadeUSA
  4. 4.Development Dimensions InternationalBridgevilleUSA
  5. 5.U.S. Army Research LaboratoryAberdeen Proving GroundUSA
  6. 6.AonAustinUSA
  7. 7.AmazonSeattleUSA

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