How To (and How Not To) Assess the Integrity of Managers (19 pages)
different internal factors— egos, temperaments, schemas, and so on. We call this personality from
the perspective of the actor. On the other hand, personality refers to the distinctive impressions that
people make on others, impressions which are captured in the adjectives we use to describe others
(friendly, honest, principled, etc.). We call this personality from the perspective of the observer. The
first definition of personality concerns how people think about themselves—their “identity,” and the
second definition concerns how others think about them—their “reputation” (Hogan, 2007).
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior; reputation is a summary of past behavior
and is, therefore, the best data source we have about future behavior. This assertion is supported by
a wealth of empirical data (see Hogan, 2007). In contrast, identity is difficult to measure because
self-perception is notoriously plagued by bias and error. Self-ratings of behavior have low corre-
lations with both observer ratings and objective measures (Beehr, Ivanitskaya, Hansen, Erofeev, &
Gudanowski, 2001; Heidemeier & Moser, 2009). There is also a logical problem with self-
assessments of integrity. People who lack integrity specialize in manipulation and deceit, which
makes their self-assessment a dubious source of information.
Bright Side Versus Dark Side
It is also useful to distinguish two aspects of reputation, “the bright side” and “the dark side” (Hogan
& Hogan, 2001). The bright side reflects people’s reputations when they are on their best
behavior—when they self-monitor and self-regulate to make a positive impression (e.g., during an
employment interview). The dark side refers to people’s behavior when they are less concerned
about how they are perceived—when they let down their guard or when they are too stressed or too
tired to self-monitor. The bright side concerns people when they are at their best; the dark side
concerns people when they are less vigilant.
Dark-side characteristics can be seen as dysfunctional extensions of bright-side characteristics.
For instance, extreme self-confidence resembles narcissism and extreme flexibility resembles
delinquency (Hogan & Kaiser, 2005). Further, dark-side characteristics often coexist with well-
developed social skills that mask their dysfunctional impact in the short-term (Hogan & Hogan,
2001). However, over time and with repeated exposure, observers come to recognize these
dysfunctional tendencies that disrupt relationships and corrupt judgment (J. Hogan, Hogan, &
Strong Versus Weak Situations
The personality critic Walter Mischel (1977) suggested that personality is most important in “weak
situations.” According to Mischel, “strong situations” provide unambiguous cues about appropriate
behavior, which reduce the variability in peoples’ actions. In strong situations, clear behavioral cues
encourage people to conform to social expectations. Conversely, weak situations provide ambiguous
cues for action; this allows greater opportunity for personality to influence behavior. Moreover,
because weak situations lack cues for appropriate behavior, socially undesirable behavior is more
likely to be expressed in them. Therefore, the dark side of personality is more likely to appear in
weak situations (Kaiser & Hogan, 2007).
Hierarchical relationships can be understood in these terms—relations with superiors represent
strong situations and relations with subordinates represent weak situations. It follows that managers
are more likely to be on their best behavior when dealing with their superiors, but less likely to be
as well-behaved in the weaker situations involving their subordinates. Thus, subordinates may be in
the best position to observe a manager’s dark side. And given the vulnerability of their subordinate
position, they also should be motivated to detect signs of exploitation and untrustworthy behavior.
These factors make subordinates a prime source of information about the integrity of their boss.
These considerations have three implications for the assessment of integrity. First, managers who
lack integrity probably won’t describe themselves that way. Second, observer evaluations should be
better at identifying managers with questionable integrity. And third, subordinates are likely to be
KAISER AND HOGAN