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Employee Theft: What Does Integrity Predict in Pre Employment Assessments?

November 15, 2011

In last week’s blog, integrity was introduced as a characteristic of interest to employers. While researchers haven’t come to a full consensus on the exact traits that make up integrity, measures of integrity are providing value in personnel selection. This blog provides a brief review of the research that has been conducted to support measures of integrity for use in selection.

What Does Integrity Predict?

From the beginning, integrity tests were developed with counterproductive behaviors in mind. Counterproductive behaviors are voluntary acts by employees that have a negative impact on the organization. These behaviors can vary in degree of impact ranging from showing up late to stealing and sabotage. The main goal of integrity testing is to prevent unethical and undesirable behavior in the workplace. Extensive reviews since the late 1980’s have supported the validity of integrity testing (e.g. Ones, Viswesvaran, & Schmidt, 1993; U.S. OTA, 1990; Sackett & Wanek, 1996; APA Goldberg et al., 1991). Ones et al. (1993)’s meta-analysis remains to be the most comprehensive quantitative review to this day. They meta-analyzed 665 validity studies and reported substantial relationships between integrity and the following outcomes:

  • Employee admitted theft

  • Employee detected theft

  • Broad counterproductive behaviors (e.g,  tardiness, absenteeism, loafing)

  • Job Performance

  • Training Performance

  • Productivity

  • Accidents

  • Property Damage

Basically, individuals who are high integrity are more likely to come to work, show up on time, work productively, do their job well, and are less likely to engage in theft, have accidents, or destroy property. Select International has conducted similar research in the integrity realm and has found strong relationships between integrity and self-reported counterproductive behaviors as well as theft, previous terminations, convictions and absenteeism.

The research evidence clearly shows that measures of integrity can help to reduce negative behaviors in the workplace. It only takes a few employees engaging in counterproductive work behaviors to make a big impact on the company’s bottom line. Being able to prevent low integrity individuals from being hired in the first place is where integrity testing comes into play.  Screening for the right characteristics up front can help to reduce the negative impact in the long run.

cultural fit

Amie Lawrence, Ph.D. Amie Lawrence, Ph.D. is the Manager of Product Development at PSI. She is an expert in the design, development and validation of psychological assessment tools. An integral member of PSI since 2000, Amie has led the development of numerous competency-based assessments, including online in-baskets, job simulations and motivational fit instruments.