Reexamining the Role of General Cognitive Ability and Specific Abilities in the Prediction of Job Performance Using a Construct-oriented Approach: Not Much More Than g?


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Virginia Tech


The purpose of the present study was to attempt to reconcile the seemingly overwhelming body of empirical evidence arguing for the preeminence of general cognitive ability in relation to specific abilities with the general resistance of the majority of Industrial-Organizational psychologists to such a position. The contention of the present study was that the primary evidence used to support the view that specific abilities are of little importance relative to general cognitive ability did not faithfully represent the classic selection model and was based on tenuous assumptions about the operationalizations of general and specific cognitive abilities. By virtue of being defined in un-interpretable terms with respect to content or function, prior operationalizations of specific abilities did not lend themselves to logical and theoretical relationships with job specific job performance. The general thesis of the present study was that if a "construct oriented approach" that is largely based on this classic selection model were implemented, a composite of psychologically interpretable job related specific abilities would prove equivalent or even superior to general cognitive ability in the prediction of job performance. Results suggest implementation of the construct oriented approach demonstrates potential for the value of this approach with respect to balancing criterion related validity and social equity.



criterion-related validity, specific abilities, General cognitive ability