Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The main purpose of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of two concepts of disguise in the structured self-report assessment of psychopathology. Using the Basic Personality Inventory with samples of university students, a distinction was made between the concepts of face validity and item subtlety. Face validity was viewed as the contextual relevance of structured test items whereas item subtlety was conceptualized as the lack of an obvious substantive link between test item content and its underlying construct. Under normal test-taking conditions where honest self-report was encouraged, greater face validity and lower levels of subtlety were associated empirically with higher item criterion validity.;Scale desirability, construct desirability, construct accessibility, construct unity, and item-construct substantiveness were examined as possible moderating variables of the relationships of face validity and item subtlety to criterion validity. Analyses indicated that construct accessibility might mediate the relationship of item subtlety to criterion validity whereby with the more accessible constructs, subtle items tended to demonstrate greater empirical validity.;Next, the relative validities of subtle versus obvious and face valid versus non-face valid scales were examined under conditions in which test respondents were provided with advance test knowledge and motivation to distort self-presentation. Results indicated that, in general, scores under faking conditions proved to be less valid than in the case where honest self-report was encouraged. Furthermore, the disguised scales proved not to be any more valid than the transparent scales under conditions where faking was induced or where information concerning the nature of the test was supplied.;Results of these studies were interpreted as supporting a rational strategy of test construction emphasizing the use of relevant test item content. Data, in general, failed to support the utility of obscured approaches to the assessment of psychopathology and it was suggested that the onus of proof must switch to those who advocate the use of disguised strategies for structured measurement.



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