Honesty

This Personality Trait Predicts Your Tendency to Lie and Cheat

2 min read
This story originally appeared on Business Insider

For years, many psychologists have believed that five personality traits could explain human behavior.

These traits, known as the "Big Five," include openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Now, researchers at the University of Koblenz-Landau in Germany say that a sixth personality trait can predict one type of behavior that none of the other traits can: dishonesty.

The personality trait is called the "Honesty-Humility" factor, and generally refers to your tendency to be fair in dealing with others and your willingness to stop yourself from exploiting others to benefit yourself.

In a series of experiments, the researchers demonstrated that people who scored low on measures of Honesty-Humility were more likely to cheat for their own benefit.

In one experiment, participants started out by completing the HEXACO personality assessment, which measures Honesty-Humility, among other traits. Then participants were asked to roll a die and report if it landed on a specific number. If it did, they would be paid €5.00.

Results showed that those who scored lowest on Honesty-Humility claimed to have rolled the target number about 75% of the time, when in reality, their chances of winning were only about 17%. That suggests that the low scorers were lying pretty often. Importantly, no other personality trait was as strongly linked to lying as Honesty-Humility.

That it's possible to predict someone's willingness to lie and cheat based on a personality test has potential implications for the workplace. For example, as Taya Cohen, Ph.D., an assistant professor of organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University, told New Scientist, people who score low on the Honesty-Humility factor might be more likely to cheat on their time sheets or steal office supplies.

That's why Cohen says employers might want to start testing for Honesty-Humility before hiring or promoting people. "Now that we know which traits to look for, we can begin to make progress on how to best assess them in high-stakes settings such as hiring and promotion, where people are more inclined to hide the darker sides of their character," she told The Huffington Post.

Given the proliferation of personality tests designed for hiring, that doesn't seem like such a far-fetched idea.

More from Entrepreneur

Grow Your Business at Entrepreneur LIVE! Join us on Nov. 16 in Brooklyn, NY, to learn from legends like Danica Patrick and Maria Sharapova, pitch our editors, meet with investors, and potentially walk away with funding!
Register here

One-on-one online sessions with our experts can help you start a business, grow your business, build your brand, fundraise and more.
Book Your Session

In as little as seven months, the Entrepreneur Authors program will turn your ideas and expertise into a professionally presented book.
Apply Now

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.