Tuesday, November 02, 2010

November '10 J.A.P.

The November 2010 issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology is out, so let's take a look at the relevant articles:

Woods & Hampson report the results of a fascinating study looking at the relationship between childhood personality and adult occupational choice. The participants (N ~ 600) were given a 5-factor personality inventory when they were between 6 and 12 years old, then reported their occupation 40 years later using Holland's vocational types. Results? Openness/Intellect and Conscientiousness scores were correlated with occupational choice as adults. Implication? Career choice may be determined fairly early on in some cases and be influenced by how we're hard-wired as well as through friends, family, etc.

Perhaps even more interesting, the authors found that for the most strongly sex-typed work environments (think construction, nursing), the results related to Openness/Intellect were moderated by gender, supporting the idea that gender stereotyping in these jobs is impacted by individual differences as well as other factors (e.g., cultural norms).

Next up, a study by Maltarich, et al. on the relationship between cognitive ability and voluntary turnover, with some (what I thought were) counter-intuitive results. The authors focused on cognitive demands as the moderating factor, so think for a second about what you would expect to find for a job with high cognitive demands (think lawyer)--who would be most likely to leave, those with high cognitive ability or those with low? I naturally assumed the latter.

Turns out it was neither. The authors found a curvilinear relationship, such that those low and high in cognitive ability were more likely to leave than those in the middle.

What about jobs lower in cognitive demands? Who would you expect to have higher voluntary turnover--those with high cognitive ability or lower cognitive ability? I assumed high, and again I was wrong. Turns out the relationship the authors found in that case was more of a straight negative linear relationship: the higher the cognitive demands, the less likely to leave.

What might explain these relationships? Check out I/O at Work's post about this article for more details including potential explanations from the authors. It certainly has implications for selection decisions based on cognitive ability scores (and reminds me of Jordan v. New London).

Do initial impressions of candidates matter during an interview? The next article, by Barrick et al. helps us tease out the answer. The authors found that candidates that made a better impression in the opening minutes of an interview received higher interview scores (r=.44) and were more likely to receive an internship offer (r=.22). Evaluations of initial competence impacted interview outcomes not only with the same interviewer, but with separate interviewers, and even separate interviewers who skipped rapport building.

But perhaps more interestingly, the authors found that assessments of candidate liking and similarity were not significantly related to other judgments made by separate interviewers. Thus, while these results support the idea that initial impression matter, they also provide strong support for using a panel interview with a diverse makeup, so that bias unrelated to competence is less likely to influence selection decisions.

Finally, Dierdorff et al. describe the results of a field study that looked at who might benefit most from frame-of-reference training (FOR). As a reminder, FOR is used to provide raters with a context for their rating and typically involves discussing the multi-dimensional nature of performance and rating anchors, and conducting practice sessions with feedback to increase accuracy and effectiveness (Landy & Conte, 2009).

In this case, the authors were interested in finding out whether individual differences might impact the effectiveness of FOR. What they found was that the negative impact of having a motivational tendency to avoid performance can be mitigated by having higher levels of learning self-efficacy. In other words, FOR training may be particularly effective for individuals that believe they are capable of learning and applying training, and overall results may be enhanced by encouraging this belief among all the raters.


Landy, F. and Conte, J. (2009). Work in the 21st century: An introduction to industrial and organizational psychology (Third Edition). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

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