Which personality traits predict work performance? (Measuring job…
Which personality traits predict work performance?
Guilford (1959) defined personality as ‘ any distinguishable, relatively enduring way in which one person differs from another ’.
Conducive to personnel selection, research has focused on identifying factors that successfully and reliably predict occupational performance. How appropriate someone is for a particular job can be measured in a number of ways.
Ghiselli (1966) grouped occupational aptitude tests into fives types; intelligence, spatial and mechanical ability, perceptual accuracy, test of motor ability, and personality traits.
Personality traits are mechanisms that form our responses to a range of events. A trait summarizes past behaviour and predicts future behaviour (Cook, 2016).
Ghiselli (1966) found that a number of occupations ranging from executives to storage packers and wrappers are characterized in terms of these ability demands, however personality was the best predictor.
THE FIVE FACTOR MODEL (EYSENCK, 1950)
The Five-Factor Model is one of the most popular measures of personality as it claims to reliably define five separate personality factors across a number of cultures.
Barrick, Mount and Judge (2001)
carried out a meta-analysis in order to summarise various data regarding personality and work performance. Conscientiousness has the largest correlation with work performance, followed by low Neuroticism. Extraversion, openness and agreeableness did not significantly correlate with work performance.
Judge, Heller and Mount (2002)
claimed that the Big Five provides comprehensive taxonomy to organize traits relevant to job satisfaction. They carried out a meta-analysis cumulating results of previous studies investigating relationships between personality traits and job satisfaction. They found that high levels of neuroticism negatively correlated with job satisfaction, whereas higher levels of extraversion positively correlated with job satisfaction.
The advent of the FFM has made personality more accessible to and manageable by test users. Also, meta-analyses published recently have showed that personality test scores hold potential to correlate meaningfully and usefully with job performance.
Morgeson et al. (2007)
has a contradictory viewpoint- claiming that personality tests lack sufficient validity to warrant their continued use in hiring workers. They also suggest taht faking in personality assessments is becoming more and more of a problem.
Social Desirability: The attitudes towards 'faking' are supported by Campion's review of the literature, in which he concludes that applicants do fake responses to personality tests but that only about half of the studies show that faking affects cireterion-related validity. Hollenbeck suggests that faking has little effect on validity because he believes all applicants fake to a similar degree.
Tett and Christiansen (2007)
- Addressed these claims. Carried out a meta-analyisis. Suggested that personality test validity reaches useful levels under some conditions. However personality test validity is sufficiently valid to warrant its use in hiring
FFM offers a convenient framework for organising diverse traits. However narrow measures might offer the best predictor of work behaviour. It is important to identify the specific performance facets and personality traits being combined in their respective measures. Predictive accuracy improves when trait and performance dimensions are thematically linked
Salgado (1997) results show that the overall validity of the personality constructs is small, excepting Emotional Stability and
Conscientiousness, even when effects of measurement error
in predictors and criteria and range restriction have
been corrected. Together, the findings from Barrick
and Mount, Hough et al., and this study
support the inclusion of Conscientiousness as a relevant
variable in a model of job performance.
The results for Openness to Experience show that this
dimension is a valid predictor for training proficiency,
A positive correlation was found between extraversion and two occupations in which interpersonal characteristics
were likely to be important. However, the dimension
did not seem to be a valid predictor for training
Raymark, Schmit and Guion (1997
) - traits linked to the FFM distinguished meaningfully among 12 occupational groups.
What else predicts work behaviour?
Arvey, Bouchard, Segal and Abraham (1989)
presented evidence that job satisfaction has a substantial genetic component. They studied monozygotic twins separated at birth and found that they were significantly similar in their general job satisfaction. However, it must be acknowledged that this research did not document ant direct relationship between job satisfaction and dispositional characteristics of individuals.
Research has suggested that the Big Five is also heritable, and therefore it has been proposed that the Big Five factors mediate the genetic source of job satisfaction (Loehlin, McCrae, Costa & John, 1998).
Judge and Iles (2002)
challenged this suggestion, stating that the Big Five does not mediate the genetic variable in job satisfaction. Intelligence is highly heritable and job success has been shown to be linked to both intelligence and job satisfaction (Bouchard, 1997). Therefore intelligence may result in greater job success, which in turn may result in greater job satisfaction
In contrast, Ganzach (1998) reported no significant correlation between intelligence and job satisfaction. Furthermore, these studies focus on the importance of job satisfaction, instead of job productivity. This means they might not be particularly useful in terms of personnel selection.
Measuring job productivity
Barrick, Steward and Piotrowski (2002)
carried out research measuring sale performance as a measure of occupational outcome. Their findings indicated that extroverts were particularly good at sales. + conscientiousness was also found to be strongly correlated with being accomplishment striving.
Hurtz and Donovan (2000)
demonstrated similar findings in that conscientiousness was powerfully correlated with performance within a number of domains including sales, service occupations, management, and skilled labour. Furthermore, for careers requiring good leadership, extraversion was the best predictor of occupational outcome. This research suggests that the relevance of personality traits in predicting work behaviour may be based on the career in question.
This notion is supported by research analysing personality within specific occupations. Barrick et al. (2001) found that low neuroticism was a good predictor of success in the police force and with skilled work, whereas extraversion was a better predictor of success in management. These findings that different personality traits appear to be related to different occupations demonstrates that some research, such as findings from Judge, Heller and Mount (2002), may be over-generalised.
Joyce and Brent (2003)
As performance assessment moved from general to specific job criteria, all Big Five personality dimensions more precisely predicted relevant criterion variables, with estimated true validities of .43 (Emotional Stability), .35 (Extraversion-Ambition), .34 (Agreeableness), .36 (Conscientiousness), and .34 (Intellect-Openness to Experience).
Research into the relationship between these personality traits and personnel selection supports the notion that consciousness can accurately predict job performance (Schmidt & Ryan, 1993). The hypothesis that conscientious individuals demonstrate superior performance as an employee makes it reasonable that employers would select candidates possessing this trait, or ones which correspond with it.
The research discussed thus far as discussed been based on job satisfaction. When discussing specific occupations it is possible to investigate specific job outcomes
Judge et al. (2004)
Leadership can be predicted by the Big 5: overall by .48. Extraversion and conscientiousness were most predictive
Derue et al (2011) -
the ability of personality big 5 to predict performance depends on orientation of the task (Task orientated: high conscientiousness. Relationship or change orientated: Extraversion)
Randall et al. (2003)
What is the effect of leader personality on the group dynamics of the top management team (TMT) and of TMT dynamics on organizational performance? Simply stated, they suggest that leader personality is significantly
related to how senior management interacts
Results from independent observations of chief executive officer (CEO) personality and TMT dynamics for 17 CEOs supported the authors' hypothesized relationships both between CEO personality and TMT group dynamics and between TMT dynamics and organizational performance.
Hoffman et al. (2011)
Traits predicting leadership: Dominance, charisma, creativeness, honesty intregrity
amount of time spent at work is tends to be related to performance
With minor illness being the primary reason for absenteeism, it could be assumed that this does not involve the influence of one’s personality traits
(Gründemann & Vuuren, 1998)
Judge, Martocchio and Thoresen (1997)
found that several factors significantly predict absenteeism. Findings regarding age of employee indicated that older people are less likely to be absent, and are deemed to be more reliable employees. Extraversion was found to be a good predictor of absenteeism. It has been theorised that this may be because extroverts may require higher levels of stimulation in order to be entertained, and working simply doesn’t provide this stimulation, and these series of behaviours result in absenteeism.
In line with prior findings regarding the benefit of conscientiousness workers on occupational performance, conscientiousness significantly negatively correlated with absenteeism. Conscientiousness
Benefit: is not subject to self report measures (such as job satisfaction)
Conclusion FURNHAM 2017
A major finding in relation to personality and the workplace is the role of neuroticism and conscientiousness in predicting better work place performance (Barrick et al. 2001).
High conscientiousness and low neuroticism have consistently correlated with better job performance, better job satisfaction, achievement striving behaviour, and sales (Barrick, Steward & Piotrowski, 2002).
Despite these findings appearing to be generalisable across a range of careers, some research has suggested that certain occupations specifically correlate with certain personality traits (Barrick et al. 2001).
Therefore, it may be beneficial for employers to take this into account when carrying out personnel selection. Extraversion has been shown to correlate with job satisfaction, however it is also associated with higher levels of absenteeism (Judge, Martocchio and Thoresen, 1997).
Overall, personality traits, specifically three of the five defined by Eysneck, can successfully predict occupational outcome. This has huge implications in personnel selection, and raises questions as to whether it is ethical to select people based largely on the results of personality test.