Socially desirable responding may affect the factor structure of personality questionnaires and may be one of the reasons for the common variance among personality traits. In this study, we test this hypothesis by investigating the influence of the motivational test-taking context (development vs. selection) and the opportunity to distort responses (forced-choice vs. Likert response format) on personality questionnaire scores. Data from real selection and assessment candidates (total N = 3,980) matched on gender, age, and educational level were used. Mean score differences were found between the selection and development groups, with smaller differences for the FC version. Yet, exploratory structural equation models showed that the overall factor structures as well as the general factor were highly similar across the four groups. Thus, although socially desirable responding may affect mean scores on personality traits, it does not appear to affect factor structures. This study further suggests that the common variance in personality questionnaires is consistent and appears to be little influenced by motivational pressures for response distortion.

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Department of Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Pelt, D., van der Linden, D., & Born, M. (2019). The motivation and opportunity for socially desirable responding does not alter the general factor of personality. Assessment, in press. Retrieved from