The Lazy or Dishonest Respondent: Detection and Prevention

Posted: 4 Feb 2021

Date Written: January 2021


Self-report measures are characterized as being susceptible to threats associated with deliberate dissimulation or response distortion (i.e., social desirability responding) and careless responding. Careless responding typically arises in low-stakes settings (e.g., participating in a study for course credit) where some respondents are not motivated to respond in a conscientious manner to the items. In contrast, in high-stakes assessments (e.g., prehire assessments), because of the outcomes associated with their responses, respondents are motivated to present themselves in as favorable a light as possible and, thus, may respond dishonestly in an effort to accomplish this objective. In this article, we draw a distinction between the lazy respondent, which we associate with careless responding, and the dishonest respondent, which we associate with response distortion. We then seek to answer the following questions for both careless responding and response distortion: (a) What is it? (b) Why is it a problem or concern? (c) Why do people engage in it? (d) How pervasive is it? (e) Can and how is it prevented or mitigated? (f) How is it detected? (g) What does one do when one detects it? We conclude with a discussion of suggested future research directions and some practical guidelines for practitioners and researchers.

Suggested Citation

Arthur Jr, Winfred and Hagen, Ellen and George, Felix, The Lazy or Dishonest Respondent: Detection and Prevention (January 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Winfred Arthur Jr (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University ( email )

College Station, TX 77843-4353
United States

Ellen Hagen


Felix George

Independent ( email )

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