The use of semantic priming as a paradigm for the detection of faking on self-report psychological tests

Grieve, Rachel Margaret (2011) The use of semantic priming as a paradigm for the detection of faking on self-report psychological tests. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


It is recognised that individuals do not always respond honestly when completing psychological tests. One of the foremost issues for research in this area is the inability to detect individuals attempting to fake. While a number of strategies have been identified in faking, a commonality of these strategies is the latent role of long term memory. Seven studies were conducted in order to examine whether it is possible to detect the activation of faking related cognitions using a lexical decision task. Study 1 found that engagement with experiential processing styles predicted the ability to fake successfully, confirming the role of associative processing styles in faking. After identifying appropriate stimuli for the lexical decision task (Studies 2A and 2B), Studies 3 to 5 examined whether a cognitive state of faking could be primed and subsequently identified, using a lexical decision task. Throughout the course of these studies, the experimental methodology was increasingly refined in an attempt to successfully identify the relevant priming mechanisms. The results were consistent and robust throughout the three priming studies: faking good on a personality test primed positive faking related words in the lexical decision tasks. Faking bad, however, did not result in reliable priming of negative faking related cognitions. To more completely address potential issues with the stimuli and the possible role of affective priming, two additional studies were conducted. Studies 6A and 6B revealed that negative faking related words were more arousing than positive faking related words, and that positive faking related words were more abstract than negative faking related words and neutral words. Study 7 examined whether the priming effects evident in the lexical decision tasks occurred as a result of an unintentional mood induction while faking the psychological tests. Results were equivocal in this regard. This program of research aligned the fields of psychological assessment and cognition to inform the preliminary development and validation of a new tool to detect faking. Consequently, an implicit technique to identify attempts to fake good on a psychological test has been identified, using long established and robust cognitive theories in a novel and innovative way. This approach represents a new paradigm for the detection of individuals responding strategically to psychological testing. With continuing development and validation, this technique may have immense utility in the field of psychological assessment.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

1,235 since deposited on 25 Oct 2011
71 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 46637
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Mahar, Douglas & Sullivan, Karen
Keywords: faking, malingering, strategic responding, dissimulation, assessment, self-report, test validity, long term memory, dual processing, system 1, lexical decision task, network memory models, semantic priming, valence, affective priming
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 25 Oct 2011 05:46
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2011 05:54

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page