New test reveals penchant for theft and fraud

Bad times for bad guys: a penchant for corruption, theft and fraud at the workplace can be measured according to the Department of Forensic Psychology at the Technical University in Darmstadt. This is the finding of several tests carried out in co-operation with the University of Regensburg and the »Team Psychologie & Sicherheit» consulting firm which sponsored this research project.

In the opinion of Dr. Jens Hoffmann, psychologist at the Technical University of Darmstadt, there is a general psychological dimension of „integrity» which determines to what extent a human being is inclined to do wrong. »Someone whose integrity values are rather low is more inclined to problematic behaviour. This ranges from unauthorized absence from work, damaging of company property and theft to embezzlement, fraud and corruption, says Mr. Hoffmann.

In the first phase of the tests psychologists identified those factors on the basis of which somebody´s inclination to theft may be predicted. In a second phase researchers asked 320 employees from different lines of business and hierarchy levels in an anonymous way. Thus it was possible to identify in total 14 factors for integrity which are statistically closely linked to incorrect behaviour in the workplace.

These results led to an extended version of a psychological integrity test, called PIT, which does not only measure the inclination to theft, but all kinds of incorrect behaviour. »The PIT test is in general applicable to all fields of activity and levels of hierarchy«, says Hoffmann. »You can use it for recruiting staff in the service industry, but also in the search for company executives.« In addition, such a kind of procedure also informs you about the general occupational aptitude of applicants. As was demonstrated by scientific tests carried out in North America, applicants with high integrity test values are more successful and motivated at work than those with lower values. GERMAN