Intermittent Faking of Personality Profiles in High-Stakes Assessments: A Grade of Membership Analysis

Anna Brown*, Ulf Böckenholt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In high stakes assessments of personality and similar attributes, test takers may engage in impression management (aka faking). This article proposes to consider responses of every test taker as a potentialmixture of “real” (or retrieved) answers to questions, and “ideal” answers intended to create a desiredimpression, with each type of response characterized by its own distribution and factor structure.Depending on the particular mix of response types in the test taker profile, grades of membership in the“real” and “ideal” profiles are defined. This approach overcomes the limitation of existing psychometricmodels that assume faking behavior to be consistent across test items. To estimate the proposed fakingas-grade-of-membership (F-GoM) model, two-level factor mixture analysis is used, with two latentclasses at the response (within) level, allowing grade of membership in “real” and “ideal” profiles, eachunderpinned by its own factor structure, at the person (between) level. For collected data, units of analysiscan be item or scale scores, with the latter enabling analysis of questionnaires with many measuredscales. The performance of the F-GoM model is evaluated in a simulation study, and compared againstexisting methods for statistical control of faking in an empirical application using archival recruitmentdata, which supported the validity of latent factors and classes assumed by the model using multiplecontrol variables. The proposed approach is particularly useful for high-stakes assessment data and canbe implemented with standard software packages

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychological methods
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Faking
  • Grade of membership
  • Ideal-employee factor
  • Retrieve-edit-select
  • Social desirability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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