Improving Applicant Reactions to Forced-Choice Personality Measurement: Interventions to Reduce Threats to Test Takers’ Self-Concepts

Dev K. Dalal, Xiaoyuan (Susan) Zhu, Bertha Rangel, Anthony S. Boyce, Eleni Lobene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Previous research has demonstrated that selection decision making is improved with the use of valid pre-employment assessments, but these assessments can often engender negative reactions on the part of job candidates. Reactions to personality assessments tend to be particularly negative, and these reactions are even worse for forced-choice personality assessments. This latter issue is particularly troubling given the evidence showing that forced-choice measurement is quite effective at reducing deliberate response distortions (i.e., faking). Given the importance organizations place on candidate experience during the recruitment and selection process, improving applicants’ reactions to valid selection assessments is important. Previous research has not, however, discussed the reasons or mechanisms behind why test takers have negative reactions to forced-choice assessments in particular. Here, we propose that forced-choice measurement threatens elements of the test taker’s self-concept thereby engendering negative reactions to the assessment. Based on these theoretical arguments, we develop and test the efficacy of four format variations to a forced-choice assessment to improve test taker reactions. Results suggest that, compared to a traditional/standard forced-choice assessment, test takers reacted more positively to forced-choice assessment formats that (1) used a graded, as opposed to dichotomous, response scale (i.e., allowing for slightly (dis)agree responses); (2) included post-assessment performance feedback; and (3) removed the most socially undesirable items from the test. The theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-70
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Applicant reactions
  • Forced-choice measurement
  • Personality testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Psychology


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