Monday, July 02, 2007

JPSP, Vol. 92, Issue 6

There's a new issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology out (volume 92, #6), with some juicy research for us...

First up, a fascinating study by Kawakami, et al. that may assist with efforts to eliminate or minimize discriminatory behavior. Participants in the study were trained to either pull a joystick toward themselves or push it away when shown pictures of Black, Asian, or White individuals. They then took the Implicit Association Test (a measure of how connected things in your memory are, used in this context to measure bias) or were observed for nonverbal behavior in an interracial context. Results suggested that simply engaging in approach behavior reduced "implicit racial prejudice" (as measured by the IAT) and increased "immediacy" in the nonverbal situation. Could this be incorporated into some type of training to reduce recruitment and selection bias? We'll see. (Mere exposure may be the more likely training route)

Second, an article that directly relates to the current focus in assessment circles on measures of training and experience (dovetailing with the increase in ATS). Moore & Small note that people generally believe they are better than others on easy tasks and worse on difficult tasks. The authors propose that these difference occur because people have much more information about themselves than about others. The result is even stronger when people have accurate information about themselves (!). The solution, it would seem, is to provide people with accurate information about how others perform.

What might this look like? A simplistic example would be instead of having people simply select categories such as Expert-Journey-Learning-Beginner, provide some data on how many folks tend to fall into each category. Unfortunately, I doubt this would be enough to overcome our built-in inaccuracy when it comes to self rating--but everything helps.

Last but not least, a study of a non-cognitive trait--and it's not one of the Big Five! No, this time it's grit, defined by Duckworth et al. as "perseverance and passion for long-term goals." Using various measures, the authors show that measures of grit added incremental variance to the prediction of a variety of criteria, including:

- Educational attainment among two samples of adults
- GPA among ivy league undergrads
- Retention in two classes of West Point cadets
- Ranking on the National Spelling Bee

Grit was not correlated with IQ, but was highly correlated with conscientiousness. It only accounted for about 4% of the variance in predicting the above outcomes, but the incremental validity added was beyond both IQ and conscientiousness. Is this practically meaningful? Depends on your point of view. If you're dealing with a large candidate group, or a particularly sensitive one (e.g., peace officers), could be worth a second look. Methinks more research is needed, particularly research on any subgroup differences.

No comments: