This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Emotional Reactions to a Middle Warning Message: A Physiological Approach




Hack, Elissa

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation




Socially desirable responding or faking has posed a serious threat to the validity and utility of personality tests used as selection tools for organizations. There have been numerous attempts to circumvent this issue. A recently suggested method involves implementing a warning message during the middle of the testing process and then allowing the test-taker to re-test. There is empirical evidence that such a middle warning may lead to score reduction, resulting in more accurate scores for fakers, but less accurate scores for non-fakers. What has not been thoroughly examined, however, is the underlying emotional process behind this observed effect. The proposed study aims to investigate the emotional mechanisms through the measurement of physiological autonomic responses in conjunction with a self-report emotions survey. Participants in this study were 244 college students enrolled at a Southeastern university in the U.S. The current study uses a 2 × 2 factorial design with fakers vs. non-fakers and warning vs. control as the two factors. Participants were attached to physiological recording equipment and were then instructed to complete the following personality questionnaire with either honest or fake-good instructions. A warning and control message was randomly delivered in the middle of the online personality test resulting in an initial test and re-test. This study primarily examined four emotions: fear, guilt, anxiety, and anger.