Measuring Personality in Context: Improving Predictive Accuracy in Selection Decision Making

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Virginia Tech


This study examines the accuracy of a context-sensitive (i.e., goal dimensions) measure of personality compared to a traditional measure of personality (NEO-PI-R) and generalized self-efficacy (GSE) to predict variance in task performance. The goal dimensions measure takes a unique perspective in the conceptualization of personality. While traditional measures differentiate within person and collapse across context (e.g., Big Five), the goal dimensions measure employs a hierarchical structure where the item level (i.e., first-order) is based on behaviors in a given context, and at the dimension level (i.e., second-order) each behavior is organized by organizational goals. As such, at the item level, the person is differentiated within context, but at the dimension-level, person is undifferentiated and the situation is differentiated by goals. To develop this measure, the behavior-in-situation items were identified, a goal taxonomy that captures the work context was developed, and the items were linked to the goal dimensions.

The predictive accuracy of the goal dimensions measure was compared to that of the NEO-PI-R and GSE for performance on four tasks (creative, mundane, conflict management, and persuasive) and an overall performance composite. The results were modest in that the goal dimensions models did not perform substantially better than the traditional measure of personality. Specifically, the bivariate correlations between the goal dimensions and each criterion ranged from 0.00 to 0.30 and 19 out of 80 correlations (23.75%) were significant; compared to the absolute values of the correlations between the NEO-PI-R facets and each criterion that ranged from 0.00 to 0.24 with 26/240 significant correlations (10.83%). However, the results indicate that the goal dimensions model accounted for significant variance in task performance beyond that accounted for by the best traditional model for one or more of the criteria in the conflict management task and the persuasive task. These results suggest that future research on the goal dimensions measure is warranted.



Personality, Selection, Social Cognition, Self-efficacy