Personality and Traits: The Case of Honesty

All members of school faculties value honest children. Children who will not take money from a teacher's purse, remove chalk, steal pencils, cheat on test, or lie to teachers are "honest" children-children to be trusted. The classic study of honesty and deception were conducted by Hartshorne and May (1928). They studied children's honesty with tests such as:
  1. Copying-for example, giving IQ test to children, collecting the tests, secretly recording and scoring the answers, giving the tests back, and having teh children score their own tests. The discrepancy between the experimenter's secret scoring and the child's self-scoring provided a measure of cheating.
  2. Speed-for example, giving two practice sessions in digit cancellation, then asking the child to take a third trial and report the number he did in given period of time. Because this ability is rather stable, the increase in self-reported performance on the third trial over that measured on the second trial was used as a measure of the student's tendency to exaggerate his actual performance.
  3. Peeking-for example, asking a blindfolded child to pencil some dots within certain boundaries drawn on a piece ofpaper. Good performance in this task can almost always be attributable to peeking.
  4. Stealing-for example, giving students the opportunity to remove some coins from a box in the belief that only they could tell how many coins should be included in a particular box.
Average Intercorrelations Between Tests in Four Area of Honesty


1 23 4
Copying (sum of 3 tests) (.87) .45 .40 .14
Speed (sum of 6 tests) (.83) .37 .17
Peeking (sum of 3 tests) (.71) .20
Stealing (1 test)



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