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Using text analysis software to detect deception in written short‐answer questions in employee selection

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Abstract

This study investigated if word frequencies informed by the Newman‐Pennebaker (NP) and Reality Monitoring (RM) models could classify honest and deceptive responses to short‐answer questions often used in online employee applications. Participants (n = 106; 58% male; Mage = 30.28 years, SD = 8.85) completed two written short‐answer questions both deceptively and honestly. The questions asked participants to describe a notable personal achievement or a time where they had demonstrated interpersonal skills. Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count was used to calculate the prevalence of words in various linguistic categories. Deceptive statements contained significantly fewer first‐person singular pronouns, auxiliary verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, and cognitive process words. Results revealed the NP and RM models accuracy at classifying responses varied on question type.

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... In psychological studies LIWC was used to investigate the connection between language and individual differences, social processes or mental health. For example, LIWC was applied to identify gender differences (Gaucher, Friesen, & Kay, 2011;Kanze, Huang, Conley, & Higgins, 2018), hierarchical processes (Kacewicz, Pennebaker, Davis, Jeon, & Graesser, 2014;Markowitz, 2018), deception (Forsyth & Anglim, 2020;Hancock, Curry, Goorha, & Woodworth, 2007) or authorship . LIWC has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most widely used text analysis software (for review see Chung & Pennebaker, 2018;Pennebaker, 2013;Tausczik & Pennebaker, 2010). ...
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... Second, computational stylometry has been tested for its ability to detect deception with various tools and methods (e.g., for LIWC, see Ali and Levine, 2008;Fornaciari and Poesio, 2013;Newman et al., 2003;Tomas et al., 2021c; for named entity recognition, see Kleinberg et al., 2018; for morpho-syntactic labeling, see Banerjee and Chua, 2014; for n-grams, see Cagnina and Rosso, 2017;Hernández Fulsilier et al., 2015;Ott et al., 2013; for vector representations, see Nam et al., 2020; for BERT, see Barsever et al., 2020). Third, it has been the subject of over 20 peer-reviewed publications (e.g., Hauch et al., 2015;Forsyth and Anglim, 2020;Tomas et al., 2021a). ...
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This article investigates whether deceptions in online dating profiles correlate with changes in the way daters write about themselves in the free-text portion of the profile, and whether these changes are detectable by both computerized linguistic analyses and human judges. Computerized analyses (Study 1) found that deceptions manifested themselves through linguistic cues pertaining to (a) liars' emotions and cognitions and (b) liars' strategic efforts to manage their self-presentations. Technological affordances (i.e., asynchronicity and editability) affected the production of cognitive cues more than that of emotional cues. Human judges (Study 2) relied on different and nonpredictive linguistic cues to assess daters' trustworthiness. The findings inform theories concerned with deception, media, and self-presentation, and also expound on how writing style influences perceived trustworthiness.
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Despite its scientific and practical importance, relatively few studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between job applicant mental abilities and faking. Some studies suggest that more intelligent people fake less because they do not have to. Other studies suggest that more intelligent people fake more because they have increased capacity to fake. Based on a model of faking likelihood, we predicted that job candidates with a high level of mental abilities would be less likely to fake a biodata measure. However, for candidates who did exhibit faking on the biodata measure, we expected there would be a strong positive relationship between mental abilities and faking, because mental abilities increase their capacity to fake. We found considerable support for hypotheses on a large sample of job candidates (N=17,368), using the bogus item technique to detect faking.
Article
This study investigates the extent to which job applicants fake their responses on personality tests. Thirty-three studies that compared job applicant and non-applicant personality scale scores were meta-analyzed. Across all job types, applicants scored significantly higher than non-applicants on extraversion (d=.11), emotional stability (d=.44), conscientiousness (d=.45), and openness (d=.13). For certain jobs (e.g., sales), however, the rank ordering of mean differences changed substantially suggesting that job applicants distort responses on personality dimensions that are viewed as particularly job relevant. Smaller mean differences were found in this study than those reported by Viswesvaran and Ones (Educational and Psychological Measurement, 59(2), 197–210), who compared scores for induced “fake-good” vs. honest response conditions. Also, direct Big Five measures produced substantially larger differences than did indirect Big Five measures.
Article
This research examined three factors related to misrepresentations on job applications: the job relevance of the information, the effects of overt misrepresentation compared to omission, and the impact of human resource (HR) management experience. Dependent measures included the extent to which misrepresentations were perceived as lies and influenced hiring intentions. In general, higher job relevance and overt misrepresentations increased the perception of misrepresentations as lies and decreased the hiring intentions. Further, persons with HR management experience were less likely to see misrepresentations as lies and more likely to hire applicants. Implications for future research and managerial practice are discussed.
Article
Numerous disclosure studies have demonstrated that individuals randomly assigned to write about emotional topics evidence improved physical health compared with those who write about superficial topics. The writing samples from three previously published studies of 74 first-year students, 50 upper-division students, and 59 maximum-security prisoners were reanalyzed using Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) to explore possible relationships of writing content and style to changes in frequency of physician visits following the disclosure intervention. LSA revealed that flexibility in the use of common words-particularly personal pronouns--when writing about traumatic memories was related to positive health outcomes. The findings point to the importance of the role of discussing the self and social relationships in writing and, at the same time, to the remarkable potential of techniques such as LSA.
Deception in selection: Interviewees and the psychology of deceit
  • M A Eggert
Eggert, M. A. (2013). Deception in selection: Interviewees and the psychology of deceit. Aldershot, UK: Gower Publishing Limited.
The secret lives of pronouns
  • J W Pennebaker
Pennebaker, J. W. (2011). The secret lives of pronouns. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Press.
  • Deters J.
  • Levine R. L.
The psychological meaning of words: LIWC and computerized text analysis methods
  • Tauzczik Y.
  • Undeutsch U.