This research study evaluated the ability of item-level bifactor models (a) to provide an alternative explanation to current theories of higher-order factors of personality, and (b) to explain socially desirable responding in both job applicant and non-applicant contexts.
The bifactor model explained approximately two-thirds of the differences between applicants and non-applicants.
Results suggest that rather than being a higher-order construct, the general factor of personality may be caused by an item-level evaluative process. Results highlight the importance of modelling data at the item-level.
Implications for conceptualising social desirability, higher-order structure in personality, test development, and job applicant faking are discussed.
Overall, this research makes several important contributions.
It is particularly relevant to practitioners working in employee selection settings who are considering using the HEXACO-PIR or personality measures inspired by its constructs.
The present research provides estimates in a large sample of applicants and non-applicants of the degree of response bias that is to be expected on each domain and facet scale when administered in an applicant context.
Despite the fairly substantial level of response bias, this research showed that the HEXACO Personality Inventory maintains important structural features in an applicant setting.
The study also has important implications for the extensive literature on higher-order personality, showing that the presence of one or more higher-order factors is negated when data is modelled using an item-level bifactor model.
It is imperative that future research reexamine claims about higher-order structure in personality using an item-level approach.
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