The Honesty Test: Report

Table of Contents
Summary Report GO Go
Detailed Report GO Go
     Introduction GO Go
     Graphic Results GO Go
     Interpretation GO Go
     Advice and Tips GO Go


Overall Score = 25 Your score

Attitude Towards Dishonest Behavior = 81 Your score
Perceived Frequency = 85 Your score
Rationalizing Dishonest Behavior = 88 Your score
Self-Reported Honesty = 63 Your score
Validity Scale = 39 Your score

You scored very low on the general score, indicating that your propensity for dishonest behavior may be elevated. You are not someone who we recommend hiring in a job with access to cash or valuables, or one where there is little supervision. No test can predict this kind of behavior with certainty, but your likelihood of dishonest behaviors is surely higher than someone who scored high on this test.

The Validity Score indicated that your results may have been slightly compromised by dishonest responses or inconsistency.

The following is a condensed list of your results on the test, summarizing the Areas of Concern (elements you had a high score on), Areas of Potential concern (elements you had a mid-range score on), and Areas Free of Concern (elements you had a low score on).

Areas of Concern:

  • Overall poor honesty score
  • You display a very permissive attitude towards dishonest behavior
  • You perceive a great deal of dishonest behavior in others, and think that dishonest behavior is "the norm"
  • You strongly agree with statements that attempt to rationalize dishonest behaviors
  • You are likely to exhibit problematic, dishonest behaviors - see red flags below for more details

Areas of Potential Concern:

  • You report that you are sometimes dishonest
  • There were some indications that you did not answer completely honestly and/or carefully when taking this test
  • You may exhibit problematic, dishonest behavior in certain situations - see yellow flags for more info.

Areas Free of Concern:

  • No areas free of concern were identified

Specific behaviors to look out for:

Red Flags

The following are some problem areas for you. Given the opportunity, you are very likely to take part in the following behaviors.

    Covering up for others: 
    You may cover up for others' wrongdoing. You yourself may or may not take part in any dishonest behavior directly, but you aren't likely to be a whistle blower either. Whether it is due to a lack of assertiveness, fear of being considered a "snitch", or just misguided good heart, this mentality can be unproductive because it indicates that you may hold an "us-against-them" mentality, where employees are more likely to want to protect each other or solve the problem among themselves rather than tell their employer when something goes wrong.

Yellow Flags

The following are some potential problem areas for you. You may be vulnerable to inappropriate behaviors given tempting situations.

    Time theft: 
    You may possibly be at risk for time theft, which refers to unauthorized use of sick leave, wasting work time and/or being absent or tardy without authorization. Many less productive workers will not take money or merchandise but will indirectly steal from their employer by being paid for more hours than they actually work.

    Your results indicate a moderate risk for theft of money or merchandise in the workplace.

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Detailed Report


Over the past several years, honesty and integrity testing in the workplace has been becoming more and more prevalent. There are several reasons for this increase. First, organizations that had in the past utilized polygraph testing for their employees were forced to stop due to new legislation. This created a void in this type of testing - something that these companies regret because they knew that testing for honesty has great benefits, both in the quality of personnel hired and in the reduction of theft and other counterproductive behavior. Secondly, companies are realizing that the high cost of turnover even in entry-level jobs merits more careful selection procedures. And finally, evidence suggests that organizations and companies have reason to fear that their employees may in fact steal from them. Studies show that honesty testing works - in companies where testing has been implemented, theft and other forms of dishonest behaviors have decreased dramatically.

Honesty tests must be interpreted cautiously, and in the context of other information about the individuals taking the test. No selection decisions should be made solely on the basis of the results of this test; the assessment should be used as just one part of the selection process. In addition, the test should be used only for jobs for which it is relevant, such as those that involve access to money and merchandise, jobs where there isn't much supervision or strict enforcement of rules, and other jobs vulnerable to dishonest behavior.

This test contains questions relevant to appropriate on-the-job behavior in general, including evaluation of likelihood of theft of money or merchandise, time theft, cyberloafing, and other deceitful actions. Your reactions to questions about these behaviors will be explored in the following categories.

  • Attitude Towards Dishonest Behavior: How you feel about various behaviors, including how severely you think people who partake in such behavior should be punished.

  • Perceived Frequency of Dishonest Behaviors: The frequency of which you feel that various dishonest behaviors occur, especially in the workplace setting.

  • Rationalizing of Dishonest Behavior: Whether you agree with statements that attempt to rationalize dishonest behavior with situational factors.

  • Self-Reported Honesty: How honestly you have behaved in the past; how you believe you are likely to act in the future.

  • Validity scale: Whether you showed signs of acquiescent response pattern, social distortion, faking, or of taking the test carelessly.

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Graphic Results

Overall score = 25


     Attitude Towards Dishonest Behavior (score = 81)
     Perceived Frequency (score = 85)
     Rationalizing Dishonest Behavior (score = 88)
     Self-Reported Honesty (score = 63)
     Validity Scale (score = 39)

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There were many indications on this test that your propensity for dishonest behavior may be elevated. You are not someone who we recommend hiring in a job with access to merchandise, cash, or other valuables, or where workers are expected to work productively without extensive supervision and/or guidance. Your overall honesty, as reflected in your score, is questionable at best. The following interpretation will elucidate your results in greater detail.

The Validity Score indicated that your results may have been slightly compromised by dishonest responses or inconsistency.

Attitude Towards Dishonest Behavior

Although the relationship is not always cut and dry, attitudes do predict behavior. How you feel about the specific dishonest behaviors mentioned in this test is an excellent predictor of your own future behavior on the job. A number of common temptations that may be encountered in a workplace are explored in this test. Many of the questions in this category inquired whether you feel that various dishonest behaviors are wrong; others assessed your opinion about how severe the punishment for dishonest behavior should be. An important issue to consider in terms of this subscale is the fact that while such attitudes are highly correlated with actual behavior, the relationship is not 100%. For instance, someone may have very permissive attitudes towards occasional slips of others and may be extremely liberal when it comes to punishment. However, that may not necessarily mean that they are inclined to that kind of behavior. Keep that in mind when you are reading your results.

Score = 81  

Your score

What does this score mean?
Your results indicate a very liberal attitude towards theft, time theft, cyberloafing and dishonest behavior in general. You seem to be someone who doesn't think that dishonest behavior in the work place should be punished to any serious degree. Your liberal attitude towards the dishonest behaviors described on the test indicate that you may not think that there is anything really wrong with such actions. This is definitely an area of concern.

Perceived Frequency of Dishonest Behaviors

People the world over tend to want to believe that they are "normal" - that most other people think and act similarly to the way they do. This keeps them from being overly critical of themselves. In the context of dishonest behavior, projection, or the attribution of one's own feelings, attitudes and behaviors onto others, is a self-protective response that keeps offenders from feeling guilty about their own actions. After all, why should you feel bad about an action or behavior that almost everyone takes part in? This is why one's perception of the prevalence of dishonest behavior is related to one's actual propensity to such actions. This relationship is not infallible, however, since you might have a valid reason for perceiving high degree of fraudulent behavior. For example, you could have witnessed a great deal of theft or other dishonest behaviors when working in recent positions, and could therefore have difficulty judging the frequency of the behavior in the rest of the population. If this is the case with you, a note will be included in your results.

Score = 85  

Your score

What does this score mean?
You perceive a great deal of dishonest behavior going on in the workplace. You seem to believe that very few people are fundamentally honest and can be trusted to act appropriately without supervision. People tend to overestimate their similarity to others so their perception of what happens in the workplace and beyond often mirrors their own behavior. The fact that you think that there are very few really honest people is an indication that you may very well be a dishonest person yourself.

Rationalizing of Dishonest Behavior

Many people who are unhappy at work seek indirect revenge on their employers to make up for perceived injustices. An employee may, for instance, steal some merchandise to "make up" for poor pay or surf the internet when they feel their bosses demand too much of them. These are the individuals whose honesty depends on the situation they find themselves in. If you speak to people after they are caught stealing or doing something else dishonest, you will often find that they utilize some sort of rationalization for their behavior. "My bosses treated me unfairly", or "I was taken advantage of by the company" are common excuses. It is key to pick employees who are not prone to rationalizing dishonest behavior, as they are less likely to behave dishonestly, even when they feel wronged. Let's face it; many employees are frustrated with their management or their company at some point, so the rationalizing of dishonest behavior should be a real concern for employers.

Score = 88  

Your score

What does this score mean?
You tend to make excuses for your actions. In taking the test, you tended to agree with statements rationalizing dishonest behavior because of situational factors, such as low pay, poor treatment by employers, etc. You are someone who cannot be relied upon to act honestly at all times because any perceived injustice might result in passive aggressive actions to try to "level the playing field". Your mentality could get you into trouble one day.

Self-Reported Honesty

Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. We all know people who have tried to change but who were only sucked back into their old ways. That's not to say that we have no control over our own actions or that people cannot change their ways. However, as a general rule in human nature, if someone behaved one way in the past, they will likely behave in a similar way when faced with the same situation in the future. Statistically speaking, someone who has stolen or otherwise acted dishonestly in the past is more likely to steal again than a person who has never stolen anything in their entire life.

This subscale contains questions about self-reported past behavior, and how you think you would react to various situations. Although you were briefed beforehand that your responses are monitored and that there are measures in place to detect untruthful responses, the self-report nature of this category makes it somewhat more vulnerable to lying and social desirability bias.

Score = 63  

Your score

What does this score mean?
You reported that you are generally an honest person with an occasional slip up every now and then. A score such as this indicates that you are willing to admit to an occasional dishonest move, which may make the rest of your results that much more credible.

Validity Scale

This scale assesses to what degree the results on this test are distorted or manipulated, whether such attempts were conscious or subconscious. Many people will try to present themselves in a better light, especially if the stakes are high. This assessment minimizes such a bias in several ways. To begin with, the questions are phrased in a non-threatening way and wherever possible offer plausible explanation for each answer choice. In addition, the consistency of your responses is verified to identify discrepancies between their answers to similar questions. Finally, your answers are compared to responses obtained from a large sample of the general population. When someone systematically selects socially desirable responses that are rarely endorsed by others, there is a good reason to believe that a positive self-presentation bias is at play.

The Validity Scale, often called a faking scale, is a necessary addition to honesty tests. A score that is suspiciously high may indicate that you were lying or not paying any attention, which may invalidate the whole test.

Score = 39  

Your score

What does this score mean?
There was some indication in your results to indicate that you were not telling the truth. Your elevated score could be a result of being unique in some way (in that some of your responses were extremely rare), faking, or answering inconsistently.

  • Your responses were somewhat inconsistent, indicating that you may not have been paying attention or thinking carefully about your responses.
  • You did not appear to be faking your responses; you were not attempting to answer in a socially desirable manner.

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Advice & Tips for Improving your Work Ethic and Your Attitude at Work

Know that being honest is in your best interest. You will get farther in life and in your career if you can be trusted to do the right thing without fail. No employer wants to play babysitter to his or her employees - they should be trusted to act in an honest manner even when they are not being supervised. Your friends and co-workers will also feel that you are someone they can trust, and your relationships will be better for it.

Work in a job you enjoy and where your input is respected. Research shows that anger, frustration and resentment can lead certain vulnerable individuals on a dishonest path. Being satisfied with one's job can buffer the effects of stress, improve productivity, and reduce turnover rates.

Develop a good relationship with your employer. You won't feel the temptation to act dishonestly if you respect your employer and feel that they respect you as well. The thought of cheating them in any way will be much less likely to cross your mind.

Promote open, straightforward communication. If you are frustrated with some aspect of your work environment (management, the working hours, pay, etc.) let your superior know so that s/he can help you resolve those issues. If you don't work on your frustrations, you will be more tempted to act dishonestly.

Ask first. If you need to use equipment or borrow some office supplies, it is better to ask than to be perceived as dishonest if you get caught using it without permission. Do so even if using company property for personal goals appears to be commonplace. It shows that you are respectful and that you understand that being allowed to do this is a privilege, not your right.

Tell your employer when you have made a mistake. Trying to cover up an error is never a good idea. Your employer may know a quick fix that you had never thought of or can provide suggestions for avoiding similar mistakes in the future. Being honest could prevent a small mistake from taking on a life of its own. Lies beget lies, so being honest from the get-go can help minimize the mistake. Instead of hiding it, approach your employer, briefly explain what happened and why, take responsibility for the error and suggest a solution. Everybody can make a mistake, and those who don't lose their head and rise to the occasion can demonstrate that they can function under pressure. A blunder can become a valuable learning experience and an opportunity to build stronger relationships.

Realize that there is more than one way to steal from your employer. Time theft and cyberloafing are ways of stealing from your employer … after all, you are working for less time than you are paid for. We all have our ups and downs, but deliberately being unproductive, taking longer breaks and lunches, surfing the Internet for personal reasons, and other time-wasters are just as serious as outright theft. Your employer may very likely treat it just as seriously. In fact, companies lose billions of dollars in lost productivity due to cyberloafing every year.

Negotiate a fair compensation plan for yourself. Feeling underpaid and underappreciated leads to frustration - and frustration can lead to some nasty habits, such as rationalizing theft or other dishonest actions. Stand up for yourself, and if you feel that your pay is not appropriate, find another position rather than sinking to the low of stealing or working unproductively to make up for perceived injustices.

Covering up for others is never a good idea. Camaraderie is commendable when it comes to dealing with interpersonal difficulties, minor work performance issues, and helping others solve their problems. It can sometimes be done between employees, but if you witness theft or other dishonest actions, you are responsible for letting the employer know what is going on. Taking on the responsibility of another person's actions can get you into trouble and seriously damage your credibility.

Avoid falling victim to the temptation of the Internet. It is so easy to click on links, get sucked into a story, and before long you are spending 20 minutes doing something unrelated to work. If you must take care of personal emailing or searches, do so during your break or your lunch - and make sure that your company policy allows it. Some companies block their employees' access to any job-unrelated websites, while others tolerate occasional personal surfing during lunch hours or breaks. Whatever the policy may be, all employers with Internet access are able to monitor your online activity. Besides getting into trouble for surfing on company time, you can cause your employer some serious damage if you inadvertently download a virus, spyware or cause a security breach.

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