Sunday, November 24, 2013

Research update

Well, it's that time of year again.  No, not the holidays.  No, not winter (or summer, depending on where you are!).  Research update time!  And I think you will agree with me that there is a lot of interesting research being reported, on traditional topics as well as emerging ones.

First, the November issue of JOB:

- Do transformational leaders increase creative performance and the display of OCBs?  Well, that may depend on how much trait affectivity they had to begin with. A reminder to not make blanket statements like "X type of leadership causes Y type of behavior."

- There is seemingly endless debate about the utility of personality inventories.  This study reminds us--again--that in assessment research there are few simple answers.  The authors describe how a particular combination of personality measures correlated with task performance among professional employees, but not non-professionals.  (yes, I said task performance)

Next, the Winter issue of Personnel Psychology (free right now!), much of which is devoted to corporate social responsibility (CSR):

- Do perceptions of CSR drive job pursuit intentions?  It may depend on the applicant's previous justice experiences and their moral identity.

- Oh, and it may also depend on the extent to which applicants desire to have an impact through their work.

- There is a debate in the assessment center literature about whether competency dimensions are being measured or if it's purely a function of the assessment type.  This study suggests that previous research has been hamstrung by a methodological artifact and that measured properly, assessment centers do in fact assess dimensions.

Let's switch to the November issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology:

- Engagement is all the rage, having seemingly displaced the age-old concept of job satisfaction (we'll see).  This study reminds us that personality plays an important role in predicting engagement (so by extension our ability to increase engagement may be bounded).

- Here's another good one and it's related to internal motivations.  The authors developed an instrument that helps organizations measure the "perception of the extant motivational climate."  What does that mean?  As I understand it, it's essentially whether most people are judging their performance against their peers or their own internal standards.  It seems the latter may result in better results, such as less burnout.

- On to something more closely tied to assessment: letters of recommendation (LORs).  There's surprisingly little research on these, but this study adds to our knowledge by suggesting that gender and racial bias can occur in their review, but requiring a more thorough review of them may reduce this (I don't know how likely this is for the average supervisor).

- Finally, a study looking at the evaluation of job applicants who voluntarily interrupted their college attendance.  Unfortunately this does not appear to have been perceived as a good thing, and the researchers found a gender bias such that women with interrupted attendance had the lowest evaluations.

Next, the November issue of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, where the second focal article focus on eradicating employment discrimination.  This article looks pretty juicy.  I haven't received this one yet in the mail, so I may have more to say after digesting it.  There are, as always, several commentaries following the focal article, on topics including background checks, childhood differences, and social networks.

Okay, let's tackle the 800-pound gorilla: the December issue of IJSA:

- Are true scores and construct scores the same?  According to this Monte Carlo study, it seems how the scales were constructed makes a difference.

- Can non-native accents impact the evaluation of job applicants?  Sure seems that way according to this study.  But the effect was mediated by similarity, interpersonal attraction, and understandability.

- Here's a fascinating one.  A study of applicants for border rangers in the Norwegian Armed Forces showed that psychological hardiness--particularly commitment--predicted completion of a rigorous physical activity above and beyond physical fitness, nutrition, and sensation seeking.

- Psst....recruiters...make sure when you're selling your organization you stay positive.

- Spatial ability.  It's a classic KSA that's been studied for a long time, for various reasons including its tie to military assessments and the finding that measures can result in sex differences.  But not so fast, spatial ability is not a unitary concept.

- Another study of assessment centers, this time in Russia and using a consensus scoring model.

- And let's round it out with one that should rock some worlds: the authors presents results that suggest that subject matter expert judgment of ability/competency importance bore little relation to test validity!  Okay, I'm really curious about what the authors say about the implications, so if anyone reads this one, let us know!

Last but not least, the November issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology:

- Another on personality testing, this one underlining the important distinction between broad and narrow traits.  This is another article I'm very curious about.

- Here's on one leadership: specifically, on the impact of different power distance values between leader and subordinates on team effectiveness

- And another on nonnative speakers!  This one found discriminatory judgments made against nonnative speakers applying for middle management positions as well as venture funding.  Interestingly, it appears to be fully mediated by perceptions of political skill--a topic that is hot right now.

- Okay, let's leave on a big note.  This meta-analysis found an improvement in performance prediction of 50% when a mechanical combination of assessment data was used rather than a holistic (judgment-based) method.  BOOM!  Think about that the next time a hiring supervisor derides your spreadsheet.

Until next time!

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