Management Personality Theory and Organizational Performance
Robert Tett, Jennifer Ragsdale, Daniel Simonet
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 March 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 March 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0122


Personality is the set of characteristics in the individual that account for recurring patterns of behavior, thoughts, and feelings. It has often been a focus of study in work settings because organizations seek to capitalize on individuals’ unique habits and propensities as distinct from their knowledge, skills, and abilities toward improving organizational success. Workers are key to that success, and personality offers organizations a target for assessing individuals in personnel selection, work motivation, leadership, teamwork, and other key aspects of organizational functioning. Personality theory and organizational performance are broad domains, each capturing over a century of generative scientific thinking and research. We encapsulate the intersection between those domains, highlighting selected works as a foundation for further development and vetting of personality theory in organizations. Personality has a rich and evolving theoretic literature outside the workplace, as does personality assessment. Here, we target personality theories designed especially for organizations. Full-fledged theories of personality at work are relatively few, but theoretical concepts involving personality in organizations are fairly common, and relevant sources are included. At the simplest level are theoretically relevant linkages between personality constructs (typically traits) and organization-relevant outcomes (typically job performance). More complex are person-situation interactions, which, in the workplace, inform situational specificity of personality-outcome linkages. Two further theoretic issues are personality structure and construct specificity, focusing on the meaning and merits of broad versus narrow personality and criterion domains. Theories on response distortion (e.g., faking) are included, given strong incentives for making a good impression during personnel screening. We also consider sources describing broad psychological processes (e.g., person-organization fit) in which personality is one of several main concepts, and sources theorizing about personality in a variety of processes serving organizational performance (career choice, personnel selection, work motivation, teamwork, and leadership). We narrowed the large number of relevant works to those with one or more of the following features: a major focus on personality theory in work settings; evidence of notable impact on the personality-in-organizations literature; among empirical papers, evaluation of a clearly identified personality theory in a work setting; and, among sources from the same author(s), the more seminal and/or representative contributions. Within sections, sources are presented in chronological order to capture trends over time.


The resurgence of personality in the workplace is evident in the relatively recent publication of a number of texts devoted specifically to this topic. We focus on six academic volumes, all of which offer rich descriptions and analysis of contemporary personality theory especially relevant to workers and organizations.

  • Roberts, Brent W., and Robert Hogan. Personality Psychology in the Workplace. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1037/10434-000Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This edited volume includes thirteen chapters by top personality scholars on assorted issues involving personality in organizations, including theory-focused contributions on personality and citizenship, core self-evaluations, personality assessment (e.g., response distortion) and structure, person-organization fit, moral integrity, and the self.

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  • Schneider, Benjamin, and D. Brent Smith. Personality and Organizations. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2004.

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    An edited volume covering relevant theory and empirical findings concerning personality at work. Includes thoughtful and generative expositions on socioanalytic theory (compared to trait theory), interactionism, person-organization (PO) fit, faking, vocational choice, job attitudes, stress, and assorted organizational processes and outcomes (e.g., leadership, citizenship behaviors, organizational culture). It closes with a critique of the five-factor model (FFM) and calls for process models of personality at work.

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  • Barrick, Murray R., and Ann Marie Ryan. Personality and Work: Reconsidering the Role of Personality in Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004.

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    Select issues are covered by leading scholars in this edited work. Topics include personality structure, positive affect, interactionism, personality and job performance, emotions, counterproductive work behavior, teams, training, and PO fit. Two concluding chapters urge continued development of work-related personality theory.

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  • Christiansen, Neil D., and Robert P. Tett. Handbook of Personality at Work. New York: Brunner-Routledge, 2013.

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    Offering uniquely comprehensive coverage of personality in organizations, this edited volume, authored by recognized experts, targets work-focused personality theories (e.g., socioanalytic, trait activation, implicit personality), history, assessment issues (e.g., faking), legal issues, and applications (personnel selection, training, work attitudes, teams, stress, leadership, personality change). Also included is a chapter challenging the value of personality in the workplace. Most other chapters include personality theory as a key focus.

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  • Furnham, Adrian. Personality at Work: The Role of Individual Differences in the Workplace. London: Routledge, 2004.

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    Originally published in 1992, this text was first to focus exclusively on the role of personality in organizational behavior. Major personality theories are summarized and evaluated. Applications to career choice, performance, motivation, work satisfaction, and leadership, among other topics, are described in detail. Separate chapters cover personality assessment and non-personality variables (e.g., ability).

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  • James, Lawrence R., and Michelle D. Mazerolle. Personality in Work Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2002.

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    Extending work by the lead author on conditional reasoning measures, a unique social-cognitive approach to understanding personality at work is advanced. Need/trait perspectives are described for comparison purposes. Personality “coherence” is emphasized, denoting deep, cognitively mediated stability of behavior across situations.

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General Reviews

The growing literature on personality at work has prompted periodic overviews, most promoting theory at some level. Included with such works here is a nihilistic offering by influential authorities in I-O psychology, seen in Morgeson, et al. 2007 and two critical responses, discussed in Tett and Christiansen 2007 and Ones, et al. 2007. The exchange highlights comparisons between empirical literatures on personality-performance relationships ignoring versus capitalizing on relevant theoretical considerations. The first article in this section, Weiss and Adler 1984, is over thirty years old but remains a must-read for any serious student of personality at work.

  • Adler, Seymour. “Personality and Work Behaviour: Exploring the Linkages.” Applied Psychology: An International Review 45.3 (1996): 207–224.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.1996.tb00765.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Applications of personality theory to the study of work behavior are described, including situational, trait, and outcome specificity, trait-situation interactions and reciprocal influences, bidirectional relationships within jobs, configural approaches, evolutionary mechanisms, personality in work motivation (e.g., goal setting), self- versus other-report measurement, and temporal moderation of trait-outcome linkages.

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  • George, Jennifer M. “The Role of Personality in Organizational Life: Issues and Evidence.” Journal of Management 18.2 (1992): 185–213.

    DOI: 10.1177/014920639201800201Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Appearing after influential meta-analyses from 1991, this article offers complementary theoretical grounds for examining personality in the workplace, particularly as positive and negative affect relate to job satisfaction. Psychological states are proposed as capturing trait-situation interactions and mediating trait effects on satisfaction. Further theoretic contributions include reflections on person-environment fit and personality’s relationships to prosocial behavior, job performance, and leadership.

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  • Morgeson, Frederick P., Michael A. Campion, Robert L. Dipboye, John R. Hollenbeck, Kevin Murphy, and Neil Schmitt. “Reconsidering the Use of Personality Tests in Personnel Selection Contexts.” Personnel Psychology 60.3 (2007): 683–729.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2007.00089.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Citing weak meta-analytic validity estimates (e.g., Barrick and Mount 1991, cited under Empirically Driven Meta-analyses), authors suggest abandoning personality tests (not personality per se) for personnel selection use. Faking issues are also addressed. The paper is uniquely formatted as a “Q&A” with authors offering their perspectives individually. Personality theory is ignored but prompts theory-driven (Tett and Christiansen 2007) and empirically driven responses (Ones, et al. 2007).

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  • Ones, Deniz S., S. Dilchert, Chockalingam Viswesvaran, and Timothy A. Judge. “In Support of Personality Assessment in Organizational Settings.” Personnel Psychology 60.4 (2007): 995–1027.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2007.00099.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offering a detailed summary of past empirical findings linking personality and relevant workplace outcomes, these authors counter Morgeson et al.’s pessimism by showing that validity is substantially stronger than Morgeson et al. suggest. Multivariate prediction is emphasized; personality theory is not discussed. Empirical findings regarding faking are presented.

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  • Rothstein, Mitchell G., and Richard D. Goffin. “The Use of Personality Measures in Personnel Selection: What Does Current Research Support?” Human Resource Management Review 16.2 (2006): 155–180.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.hrmr.2006.03.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This broad review of the literature on personality in organizations emphasizes situational specificity and the value of confirmatory over exploratory research strategies. Research on other moderators (e.g., criterion type) and mediators (e.g., goal-setting) of personality-job performance relationships is summarized, along with studies on narrow versus broad traits, personality and team performance, faking, and online personality assessment.

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  • Tett, Robert P., and Neil D. Christiansen. “Personality Tests at the Crossroads: A Response to Morgeson, Campion, Dipboye Hollenbeck, Murphy, and Schmitt (2007).” Personnel Psychology 60.4 (2007): 967–993.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2007.00098.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The conclusions in Morgeson, et al. 2007 are countered by noting limitations in the main source of the pessimism (Barrick and Mount 1991, cited under Empirically Driven Meta-analyses), including lack of consideration given to the theoretic advantage of confirmatory over exploratory studies, bidirectionality, and multivariate prediction. Accounting for those factors yields much stronger validity estimates. Situational specificity of personality-performance relationships (i.e., trait-situation interaction) is emphasized. Faking issues are also addressed.

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  • Weiss, Howard M., and Seymour Adler. “Personality and Organizational Behavior.” In Research in Organizational Behavior. Vol. 7. Edited by Barry M. Staw and L. L. Cummings, 1–50. Greenwich, CT: JAI, 1984.

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    Published when personality research in organizations was unpopular, this influential work helped turn the tide by attributing weak observed findings to inadequate conceptual development and poor methodology. Several types of personality effects are identified: direct effects, mechanistic (e.g., trait-by-situation) interactions, person-situation reciprocal effects, and dynamic interaction over time. Other issues discussed include situational strength, situation trait-relevance, aggregation, and personality coherence.

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Personality Structure

Closely tied to theory is the organization of focal constructs. The dominant personality trait taxonomy to emerge from formative works, as seen in Tupes and Christal 1961 and Norman 1963, and the one most often invoked in contemporary organizational literature, is the “five-factor model” (FFM or the “Big Five”), including Openness to Experience (O; e.g., eagerness to learn, willingness to change), Conscientiousness (C; e.g., dependability, achievement), Extraversion (E; e.g., dominance, sociability), Agreeableness (A; e.g., empathy, warmth), and Neuroticism (N; e.g., anxiety, depression; Emotional Stability, ES, at the opposite pole). Arguably the chief benefit of the FFM is its efficient organization of thousands of trait terms identifiable in world languages, helping to consolidate otherwise disparate research findings. More recent studies, such as Ashton and Lee 2001, have identified a sixth general factor: Honesty/Humility. Broad trait dimensions are not universally endorsed. Block 1995, a well-cited critique of the FFM, is included here as a prominent exemplar. Some researchers argue for more specific traits, as explained in Hough 1992, and others for fewer, broader dimensions, as discussed in Digman 1997. Our selective list offers a modestly representative sample of influential sources.

  • Ashton, Michael C., and Kibeom Lee. “A Theoretical Basis for the Major Dimensions of Personality.” European Journal of Personality 15.5 (2001): 327–353.

    DOI: 10.1002/per.417Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A case is made for adding a sixth general dimension to the FFM: Honesty/Humility. The resulting “HEXACO” model is increasingly popular. Whether it will eclipse the FFM is unclear. Most pros and cons of the FFM seem equally applicable here.

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  • Block, John. “A Contrarian View of the Five-Factor Approach to Personality Description.” Psychological Bulletin 117.2 (1995): 187–215.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.117.2.187Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The FFM is criticized on several fronts, including its uncertain stability, reliance on FFM measures, mixed findings regarding lexical analysis serving the FFM, unsupported properties of FFM measures, and confusion regarding the meaning of its dimensions. This paper is widely cited in challenges to the FFM in and outside organizational settings.

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  • Digman, John M. “Higher-Order Factors of the Big Five.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73.6 (1997): 1246–1256.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.73.6.1246Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Two broader factors are identified from the FFM based on correlations from fourteen studies. Factor 1 (alpha) captures A, C, and ES, representing socialization; Factor 2 (beta) captures E and O, representing personal growth. The general factors are linked to psychoanalytic theory, behaviorism, and socioanalytic theory.

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  • Hofstee, Willem K. B., Boele de Raad, and Lewis R. Goldberg. “Integration of the Big Five and Circumplex Approaches to Trait Structure.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 63.1 (1992): 146–163.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.63.1.146Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This non-work-focused paper introduces the Abridged 5 Dimension Circumplex (AB5C) organizing diverse personality facets in ten circumplexes, each a blend of two FFM factors. The model offers an elegant extension of the FFM but is less parsimonious than traditional hierarchical models.

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  • Hough, Leaetta M. “The ‘Big Five’ Personality Variables—Construct Confusion: Description versus Prediction.” Human Performance 5.1–2 (1992): 139–155.

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    A brief history of the FFM is offered and overlaps among related trait taxonomies are identified. The FFM is challenged for use in prediction because the domains are too broad and incomplete. A nine-factor taxonomy (affiliation, potency, achievement, dependability, adjustment, agreeableness, intellectance, rugged individualism, locus of control) is offered with evidence supporting differential prediction of criteria. Advantages of specific traits are noted and personality-job proficiency relations are shown to differ depending on the job.

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  • Hough, Leaetta M., Frederick Oswald, and Jisoo Ock. “Beyond the Big Five: New Directions for Personality Research and Practice in Organizations.” Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior 2 (2015): 183–209.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-032414-111441Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    History, strengths, and criticisms of three taxonomic structures of personality are reviewed, with special focus on the FFM. Urges conceptual sophistication and measurement specificity by expanding personality and criterion taxonomies, building synthetic validity databases of facet-criteria combinations, and using nomological-web clustering to develop new personality taxons with converging sources of external validity. Argues flexible research strategies are needed to facilitate discovery of novel, meaningful, and stronger validity estimates.

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  • Norman, Warren T. “Toward an Adequate Taxonomy of Personality Attributes: Replicated Factor Structure in Peer Nomination Personality Ratings.” Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 66.6 (1963): 574–583.

    DOI: 10.1037/h0040291Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Results of peer ratings of personality in four college samples support the FFM, strongly replicating the findings in Tupes and Christal 1961.

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  • Tupes, Ernest R., and Raymond Christal. Recurrent Personality Factors Based on Trait Ratings. Technical Report ASD-TR-61-97. Lackland, TX: Personnel Laboratory, Aeronautical Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command, Lackland Air Force Base, 1961.

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    This seminal and widely cited work reports results based on eight independent samples in support of five major personality trait dimensions, labeled surgency (extraversion), agreeableness, dependability (conscientiousness), emotional stability, and culture (openness to experience).

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Construct Specificity

Extending personality structure, construct specificity has special theoretic significance. First, it is sometimes suggested predictor-criterion relationships should be strongest when the two domains are equally broad, according to Ones and Viswesvaran 1996. Second, confirmatory, theory-driven expectations linking traits and criteria should benefit from greater construct articulation; theory and construct specificity are complementary pursuits. Intersecting these theoretic points is the practical issue of the “bandwidth-fidelity tradeoff”: given limited time for assessment, the test user must choose between measuring a few traits well and measuring more traits less well. Our opening selection, seen in Ones and Viswesvaran 1996, sparked a series of conceptual and empirical rebuttals, such as Hogan and Roberts 1996; Schneider, et al. 1996; Paunonen, et al. 1999; Ashton 1998; Tett, et al. 2003; Griffin and Hesketh 2004; and Dudley, et al. 2006. Our last selection, documented in Credé, et al. 2016, offers a partial integration. Collectively, the selected sources offer rich coverage of the construct specificity issue, in the end favoring reliance on specific over broad measures in personality-based theory and prediction.

  • Ashton, Michael C. “Personality and Job Performance: The Importance of Narrow Traits.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 19.3 (1998): 289–303.

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    Directly countering the arguments in Ones and Viswesvaran 1996 favoring broad integrity measures, data show two narrow traits (responsibility and risk taking) with higher validity in predicting workplace deviance than FFM traits serving integrity.

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  • Credé, Marcus, Peter D. Harms, Nikki Blacksmith, and Dustin Wood. “Assessing the Utility of Compound Trait Estimates of Narrow Personality Traits.” Journal of Personality Assessment 98.5 (2016): 503–513.

    DOI: 10.1080/00223891.2016.1170023Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Of 127 specific traits proposed in the literature as distinct from the FFM, 34 (27 percent) are shown empirically to be combinations of FFM dimensions. The majority (73 percent), however, contain unique predictive variance, in overall support of the view that the FFM is overly parsimonious in its representation of personality traits.

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  • Dudley, Nicole M., Karin A. Orvis, Justin E. Lebiecki, and Jose M. Cortina. “A Meta-analytic Investigation of Conscientiousness in the Prediction of Job Performance: Examining the Intercorrelations and the Incremental Validity of Narrow Traits.” Journal of Applied Psychology 91.1 (2006): 40–57.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.91.1.40Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Meta-analysis is used to compare global C and its main facets (e.g., achievement, dependability) in predicting different types of performance in different occupations. Averaging across jobs, facets show incremental prediction of extrarole behaviors (e.g., job dedication) and counterproductive work behaviors but not overall or task performance. For some jobs (e.g., sales, managers), C facets contribute beyond global C in predicting overall performance. Evidence of situational specificity and bidirectionality is largely ignored.

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  • Griffin, Barbara, and Beryl Hesketh. “Why Openness to Experience is Not a Good Predictor of Job Performance.” International Journal of Selection and Assessment 12.3 (2004): 243–251.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0965-075X.2004.278_1.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Noting that, of the FFM dimensions, O is the least predictive of job performance, researchers identify two facets of O (openness to internal versus external experience) that show differential relations with job performance and other variables, supporting narrow over broad trait measures.

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  • Hogan, Joyce, and Brent W. Roberts. “Issues and Non-issues in the Fidelity-Bandwidth Trade-Off.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 17.6 (1996): 627–637.

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    It is argued that Ones and Viswesvaran 1996 overstates the bandwidth-fidelity problem and ignores the issue of construct fidelity. Authors counter that validity increases when predictors are matched to criteria on content, a point supported by Ones and Viswesvaran’s own data. Further, integrity may offer generalizable validity, but this does not preclude differential relevance of C, A, and ES as predictors in specific jobs.

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  • Ones, Deniz S., and Chockalingam Viswesvaran. “Bandwidth-Fidelity Dilemma in Personality Measurement for Personnel Selection.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 17.6 (1996): 609–626.

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    Conceptual and empirical arguments are offered favoring use of broad personality constructs in predicting broad performance criteria. Broader measures (e.g., integrity tests combining C, A, and ES) are described as more reliable, more empirically valid, more generalizable as predictors across jobs, more practical, more explanatory, and more conducive to theory building than are narrower, facet-level scales. Data are offered in support of key points.

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  • Paunonen, Sampo V., Mitchell G. Rothstein, and Douglas N. Jackson. “Narrow Reasoning about the Use of Broad Personality Measures for Personnel Selection.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 20.3 (1999): 389–405.

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    Using the data in Ones and Viswesvaran 1996, narrow (homogeneous, unidimensional) traits are shown to be more predictive of performance than broad (multidimensional) traits and, moreover, to offer more compelling explanations of work behavior.

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  • Schneider, Robert J., Leaetta M. Hough, and Marvin D. Dunnette. “Broadsided by Broad Traits: How to Sink Science in Five Dimensions or Less.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 17.6 (1996): 639–655.

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    Numerous conceptual and methodological criticisms of the position in Ones and Viswesvaran 1996 are offered, including ambiguous use of “narrow” and “broad” in describing personality predictors and failure to account for the benefit of construct-oriented validation (i.e., predictor-criterion relevance). Opposite to Ones and Viswesvaran, narrow traits are favored over broad traits for theory building and advancing knowledge of work behavior.

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  • Tett, Robert P., Jacquelyn R. Steele, and Russell S. Beauregard. “Broad and Narrow Measures on Both Sides of the Personality-Job Performance Relationship.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 24.3 (2003): 335–356.

    DOI: 10.1002/job.191Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Pros and cons of broad and narrow measures are discussed. Data from two samples show that greater specificity in both trait and performance measures yields stronger and more interpretable validity estimates. Broader measures obscure meaningful effects at the facet level, in some cases cancelling out facet effects operating in opposite directions.

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Personality and Work Performance

By far the largest subliterature on personality in organizations is studies linking personality traits with assorted organizational outcomes, most commonly, job performance. Much of that research has been empirically driven with little attention to theory. We include several well-cited such sources for two reasons. First, at its simplest level, theory includes predictor-criterion construct overlap, and empirical findings prompt such considerations. Second, the most compelling empirical sources are meta-analyses, which have been catalysts for theory.


Key to appreciating the value of theory in linking personality and organizational behavior is the distinction between confirmatory and exploratory research strategies. In the former, only particular traits are identified as relevant to performance in the given job (i.e., based on conceptual or more formal job analysis), whereas, in the latter, all trait subscales are considered potential predictors in a purely empirical endeavor. Confirmatory results are stronger yet less frequent than their exploratory counterparts, as seen in Tett, et al. 1991 and Tett, et al. 1999 (both cited under Theoretically Driven Meta-analyses). As a result, averaging the two types in meta-analysis substantially underestimates validity under confirmatory conditions, including in personnel selection. A related issue is bidirectionality, where a given trait contributes to performance in one job and undermines it in another, as illustrated in Tett, et al. 1991 and Tett, et al. 1999. Averaging true positive and true negative validity estimates (not due to sampling error) leads to cancellation of effects, yielding weak meta-analytic means that understate personality’s predictive strength. Two sets of meta-analyses, summarized here, vary in recognition of the two noted issues.

Empirically Driven Meta-analyses

Most personality-performance meta-analyses ignore both the confirmatory/exploratory distinction and bidirectionality. Those aggregating validity estimates by job family per five-factor model (FFM) dimension, as discussed in Barrick and Mount 1991 and Hurtz and Donovan 2000, speak to differential trait job-relevance, but fail to fully capitalize on confirmatory advantages within trait-job family pairings (e.g., C may not be expected to correlate positively with performance in all jobs within a job family and may be expected to correlate negatively in some). Two influential reviews predating modern meta-analytic methods are Ghiselli and Barthol 1953 and Guion and Gottier 1965. The first modern meta-analysis including personality test validity was Schmitt, et al. 1984, and the most widely cited is Barrick and Mount 1991. Hurtz and Donovan 2000 addresses concerns raised in previous meta-analyses, and Barrick, et al. 2001 offers a summary of multiple meta-analyses in this area.

  • Barrick, Murray R., and Michael K. Mount. “The Big Five Personality Dimensions and Job Performance: A Meta-analysis.” Personnel Psychology 44 (1991): 1–26.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1991.tb00688.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Widely cited as a catalyst for the resurgence of personality assessment in organizations, meta-analytic findings linking the FFM to workplace outcomes (e.g., job proficiency) in selected job families (e.g., police, managers) include mean population estimates of around .23 for C and weaker but useful effects in select trait-job combinations (e.g., .18 for E and managerial outcomes). Evidence of situational specificity, including bidirectionality, within trait-job family pairings is ignored.

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  • Barrick, Murray R., Michael K. Mount, and Timothy A. Judge. “Personality and Performance at the Beginning of the New Millennium: What Do We Know and Where Do We Go Next?” International Journal of Selection and Assessment 9.1–2 (2001): 9–30.

    DOI: 10.1111/1468-2389.00160Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based on findings from fifteen meta-analyses linking the FFM to job performance, C and to a lesser extent ES are identified as generalizable predictors of performance across job domains. Validity estimates for the remaining FFM dimensions vary by job type. Evidence of situational specificity within trait-job pairings is mostly ignored.

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  • Hurtz, Gregory M., and John J. Donovan. “Personality and Job Performance: The Big Five Revisited.” Journal of Applied Psychology 85 (2000): 869–879.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.85.6.869Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Aggregation is limited to personality measures explicitly targeting the FFM in relations with task performance and other outcomes. Results largely replicate the findings in Barrick and Mount 1991, except C yields a weaker overall validity (.20 compared to .23). Enthusiasm for personality as a predictor of performance is dampened, although research on FFM facets is encouraged as offering possibly better validity.

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  • Ghiselli, Edwin E., and Richard P. Barthol. “The Validity of Personality Inventories in the Selection of Employees.” Journal of Applied Psychology 37.1 (1953): 18–20.

    DOI: 10.1037/h0059438Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rudimentary quantitative summary of validity estimates reported since 1919 yields cautious support for personality tests in personnel selection. Interestingly, means for several job families are moderately strong by modern standards (e.g., .29 for skilled workers). Situational specificity is addressed but not treated analytically.

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  • Guion, Robert M., and Richard F. Gottier. “Validity of Personality Measures in Personnel Selection.” Personnel Psychology 18 (1965): 135–164.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1965.tb00273.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Literature review yields a pessimistic view of personality tests for use in selection. Often cited in arguments challenging the value of personality in organizations, as seen in Morgeson, et al. 2007 (cited under General Reviews), the paper nonetheless offers grounds for optimism, encouraging development of theory to guide trait selection and improved validation methods. It further anticipates the challenge of bidirectionality by recognizing that whether a given trait is positively or negatively related to performance can depend on the job.

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  • Schmitt, Neil, Richard Z. Gooding, Raymond A. Noe, and Michael Kirsch. “Meta-analysis of Validity Studies Published between 1964 and 1982 and the Investigation of Study Characteristics.” Personnel Psychology 37 (1984): 407–422.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1984.tb00519.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this first modern meta-analysis of personality test validity, assorted predictors (e.g., general mental ability, biodata) are compared in relations with varied criteria (e.g., supervisory ratings, turnover) using different research designs (e.g., predictive vs. concurrent). Personality tests, overall, yield among the weakest validity estimates, adding to the pessimism of earlier reviews.

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Theoretically Driven Meta-analyses

Looking beyond broad trait-job pairings, several meta-analyses in this area have explicitly assessed the theoretic advantage of confirmatory over exploratory strategies, as illustrated in Hogan and Holland 2003; Tett, et al. 1991; and Tett, et al. 1999, and, some, the challenge of bidirectionality, as explained in Tett, et al. 1991 and Tett, et al. 1999. Validity estimates linking personality and job performance are stronger, according to Bartram 2005, overall, than those reported in more purely empirical efforts, as seen in Barrick and Mount 1991 (cited under Empirically Driven Meta-analyses) in support of theory.

  • Bartram, David. “The Great Eight Competencies: A Criterion-Centric Approach to Validation.” Journal of Applied Psychology 90 (2005): 1185–1203.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.90.6.1185Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Targeting prediction of eight distinct performance competencies (e.g., leading and deciding, supporting and cooperating), meta-analysis of relations with assorted personality traits shows consistently stronger validities when traits and competencies are conceptually aligned than when not aligned. This paper adds to the growing literature (e.g., Tett, et al. 1991; Tett, et al. 1999; Hogan and Holland 2003) showing the importance of specificity and theory-driven confirmatory strategies in estimating personality-job performance relationships.

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  • Hogan, Joyce, and Brent Holland. “Using Theory to Evaluate Personality and Job-Performance Relations: A Socioanalytic Perspective.” Journal of Applied Psychology 88 (2003): 100–112.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.88.1.100Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Meta-analysis of trait-performance relations relying on the Hogan Personality Inventory and socioanalytic theory’s “getting ahead” and “getting along” criteria yields mean validity estimates for conceptually aligned linkages stronger than earlier meta-analytic estimates. Getting ahead criteria are predicted best by ambition (part of E), and getting along criteria, by adjustment (part of ES). More specific trait-criterion alignments yield stronger results. This study supports the advantages of both specificity and confirmatory strategies.

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  • Tett, Robert P., Douglas N. Jackson, and Mitchell Rothstein. “Personality Measures as Predictors of Job Performance: A Meta-analytic Review.” Personnel Psychology 44 (1991): 703–742.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1991.tb00696.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper, like Barrick and Mount 1991 (cited under Empirically Driven Meta-analyses) is widely cited as a catalyst for the resurgence of research on personality in the workplace. Arguments are offered for distinguishing between confirmatory and exploratory estimates and the challenge of bidirectionality. Mean validity for confirmatory studies is considerably stronger than its exploratory counterpart, and stronger per FFM dimension than those of Barrick and Mount.

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  • Tett, Robert P., Douglas N. Jackson, Mitchell Rothstein, and John R. Reddon. “Meta-analysis of Bi-directional Relations in Personality-Job Performance Research.” Human Performance 12 (1999): 1–29.

    DOI: 10.1207/s15327043hup1201_1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Data from Tett, et al. 1991 are reanalyzed using refined meta-analytic methods accounting for bidirectionality of personality-performance linkages. Evidence for bidirectionality in personality-performance linkages is summarized, and validity estimates for confirmatory studies are twice as strong as those ignoring bidirectionality and confirmatory advantages (e.g., Barrick and Mount 1991, cited under Empirically Driven Meta-analyses). Variability in population estimates, supporting situational specificity, shows even stronger validity in some jobs (e.g., >.34 in 10 percent of cases).

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Selected Other Works

The papers in this section are included because of their explicit theoretic content and influence in broadening understanding of personality-job performance linkages beyond what has been tested meta-analytically.

  • Day, David V., and Stanley B. Silverman. “Personality and Job Performance: Evidence of Incremental Validity.” Personnel Psychology 42.1 (1989): 25–36.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1989.tb01549.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Personality traits identified using job analysis are linked to accountancy performance, showing incremental prediction beyond cognitive ability. This study is among the first to recognize the importance of trait job-relevance, trait and criterion specificity, and the possibility of job-specific negative validity estimates and curvilinear linkages.

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  • Motowidlo, Stephan J., Walter C. Borman, and Mark J. Schmit. “A Theory of Individual Differences in Task and Contextual Performance.” Human Performance 10.2 (1997): 71–83.

    DOI: 10.1207/s15327043hup1002_1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A theory of work performance is introduced highlighting personality and cognitive ability as precursors of contextual and task performance, each mediated by corresponding habits, skills, and knowledge. A key assertion is that personality relates more strongly to contextual performance, and cognitive ability, to task performance. Crossover effects are predicted: personality to task performance via task habits, and cognitive ability to contextual performance via contextual knowledge.

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  • Judge, Timothy A., Lauren S. Simon, Charlice Hurst, and Ken Kelley. “What I Experienced Yesterday Is Who I Am Today: Relationship of Work Motivations and Behaviors to Within-Individual Variation in the Five-Factor Model of Personality.” Journal of Applied Psychology 99.2 (2014): 199–221.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0034485Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    From a temporal perspective, traits are presented as personality states averaged over time and events. Experience sampling methods are used to show how daily work experiences affect personality states centered around the individual’s overall trait standing, and that within-person variability is greater for those higher in N.

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  • O’Boyle, Ernest H., Jr., Donelson R. Forsyth, George C. Banks, and Michael A. McDaniel. “A Meta-analysis of the Dark Triad and Work Behavior: A Social Exchange Perspective.” Journal of Applied Psychology 97.3 (2012): 557–579.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0025679Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The Dark Triad (DT)—Narcissism (N), Psychopathy (P), Machiavellianism (M)—is theorized to predict ineffectiveness and deviance due to low social reciprocity, discounting of obligations, and disregard for social rules. Meta-analysis reveals the DT traits moderately predict counterproductive work behavior, and weakly predict job performance. Contextual moderators are partially supported, with stronger N effects but weaker P effects in high authority positions, and, for N only, collectivistic cultures. Further theorizing about the role of aversive personality traits in toxic work behavior is encouraged.

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  • Warr, Peter. “Logical and Judgmental Moderators of the Criterion-Related Validity of Personality Scales.” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 72 (1999): 187–204.

    DOI: 10.1348/096317999166590Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Paralleling the confirmatory/exploratory distinction in Tett, et al. 1991 and Tett, et al. 1999 (both cited under Theoretically Driven Meta-analyses), “conceptual concordance” is examined as a moderator of managerial personality-competence relations. Other moderators include evaluativeness, observability, and faking susceptibility of rated competence. Both concordance and observability positively moderate trait-competence relations, independently and interactively. This study is notable for its logical treatment of important complexities in linking personality and performance.

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  • Witt, L. A. “The Interactive Effects of Extraversion and Conscientiousness on Performance.” Journal of Management 28.6 (2002): 835–851.

    DOI: 10.1177/014920630202800607Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Expanding on the simple, construct-driven trait-performance paradigm, the FFM dimensions of E and C are shown to interact in their effects on performance. Extroverts perform better when high on C, but worse when low on C. This study adds to a growing number showing trait-by-trait interactions in linking personality with performance. Further evident is a special case of bidirectionality, as the direction of E’s effect varies by standing on C.

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Trait-Situation Interactions

Person-situation interactionism has a venerable history in psychology. Relegated to the “black box” of scientific inquiry by behaviorism, personality was revitalized as a research target in the 1970s. The main point of interactionism is that personality traits and situations are not competing causes of human behavior but rather two sides of a coin: a situation can have mean effects on behavior yet different individuals can respond uniquely as a function of situation-relevant traits. A seminal work on this critical notion is Murray 1938, Explorations in Personality. The workplace offers ample grist for the interactionist’s mill, as demonstrated by the remaining representative sources offered here.

  • Chatman, Jennifer A. “Improving Interactional Organizational Research: A Model of Person-Organization Fit.” Academy of Management Review 14.3 (1989): 333–349.

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    Person-organization (PO) fit is defined as the “congruence” between persons (traits, values, motives, abilities, affect) and situations (organizational values, norms). Personnel selection and socialization are mechanisms operating on either side of fit. The model stresses ideographic and nomothetic assessment of persons using the Q-sort, and highlights situation strength, profile-based fit measurement, how persons and situations affect each other and outcomes of fit (e.g., extra-role behavior).

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  • Day, David V., and Arthur G. Bedeian. “Predicting Job Performance across Organizations: The Interaction of Work Orientation and Psychological Climate.” Journal of Management 17.3 (1991): 589–600.

    DOI: 10.1177/014920639101700304Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Building on Schneider’s attraction-selection-attrition framework (see Schneider 1987, cited under Attraction-Selection-Attrition (ASA) Theory) and Chatman’s interactionist notion of fit (see Chatman 1989), this empirical study reports work orientation predicting performance positively only in positive psychological climates. The value of situation trait-relevance and trait specificity is underscored, anticipating later trends regarding personality test use in work settings.

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  • Gellatly, Ian R., and P. Gregory Irving. “Personality, Autonomy, and Contextual Performance of Managers.” Human Performance 14.3 (2001): 231–245.

    DOI: 10.1207/S15327043HUP1403_2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    FFM dimensions of E and A relate more positively with contextual performance when job autonomy is high, A relates negatively when autonomy is low, and C relates negatively regardless of autonomy. Discussion highlights the importance of situation strength, bidirectionality, and trait-performance relevance.

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  • Judge, Timothy A., and Cindy P. Zapata. “The Person-Situation Debate Revisited: The Effect of Situation Strength and Trait Activation on the Validity of the Big Five Personality Traits in Predicting Job Performance.” Academy of Management Journal 58.4 (2015): 1149–1179.

    DOI: 10.5465/amj.2010.0837Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Effects of situation strength (outcome- and process-based) and trait activation (i.e., FFM-based situation trait-relevance) on personality-job performance relationships are compared meta-analytically. As expected, linkages are stronger when situations are weak and thematically tied to a given trait. Stronger effects are shown for trait activation. Results counter pessimistic perspectives on personality in the workplace (e.g., Morgeson, et al. 2007, cited under General Reviews).

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  • Kristof, Amy L. “Person-Organization Fit: An Integrative Review of Its Conceptualizations, Measurement, and Implications.” Personnel Psychology 49.1 (1996): 1–49.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1996.tb01790.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This highly influential work offers a model of fit, incorporating both supplementary (i.e., similarity-based) and complementary (i.e., lock-and-key) perspectives. Person characteristics, including personality, are linked to organizational characteristics to determine supplementary fit. Person characteristics are also linked to what they supply (e.g., knowledge, skills, abilities) and demand (resources and opportunities) in employment agreements. Personality is not the central focus, but its connection to fit is an important contribution to understanding its role in organizations.

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  • Meyer, Rustin D., Reeshad S. Dalal, and Richard Hermida. “A Review and Synthesis of Situational Strength in the Organizational Sciences.” Journal of Management 36 (2010): 121–140.

    DOI: 10.1177/0149206309349309Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The literature on situation strength as a moderator of personality-outcome linkages is reviewed per cue clarity, cue consistency, constraints, and consequences, with antecedents of national culture, organizational climate, occupation, and time. As expected, weaker situations yield stronger linkages, encouraging integration of situation strength in understanding and predicting personality-outcome relationships at work. Implications target PO fit and organizational justice.

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  • Murray, Henry. A. Explorations in Personality: A Clinical and Experimental Study of Fifty Men of College Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1938.

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    A set of primary psychological needs (e.g., for n autonomy, n aggression) is introduced along with the key theoretical notion of “press”: situational features that activate a given trait, connecting traits and situations as complementary, interconnected constructs.

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Full Personality Theories

Looking beyond simple overlap in predictor and criterion domains and, in some cases, building on basic trait-situation interactionism, several integrated theories have been offered since the late 20th century, designed explicitly to further understanding of personality in organizations. A few earlier theories, such as those documented in Atkinson 1957 (cited under Social-Cognitive Theories) and Maslow 1943 (cited under Need Theories) have mostly motivational import, and are covered as such. Here, we present selected sources for each of four major theories on personality relevant to the workplace, each offering a uniquely influential perspective.

Attraction-Selection-Attrition (ASA) Theory

Schneider’s attraction-selection-attrition (ASA) framework was the first full-scale interactionist model targeting person-environment fit in organizations. Introduced in the mid-1980s, it is a natural extension of 1970s interactionism countering the anti-personality zeitgeist of behaviorism. A key point of Schneider’s theory is that it turns situationism on its head by observing that situational influences on organizational behavior are themselves the product of people and their personalities. The ASA model is highly cited in the personality-in-organizations literature, most commonly regarding person-organization (PO) fit, but also work values, recruitment and selection, and turnover, among others.

  • Ployhart, Robert E., Jeff A. Weekley, and Kathryn Baughman. “The Structure and Function of Human Capital Emergence: A Multilevel Examination of the Attraction-Selection-Attrition Model.” Academy of Management Journal 49 (2006): 661–677.

    DOI: 10.5465/AMJ.2006.22083023Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Noting a lack of clarity in the meaning of “homogeneity” in ASA theory, these researchers investigate the structure of personality homogeneity emergence and its functional relations with job satisfaction and performance. Both composition (consensus) and compilation (dissensus) models are considered in explaining homogeneity emergence.

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  • Schneider, Benjamin. “The People Make the Place.” Personnel Psychology 40 (1987): 437–453.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1987.tb00609.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The ASA framework is introduced according to which people are attracted to, hired by, and leave the organization as a function of their fit with the organization’s climate and culture. Drawing on person-situation interactionist principles, this seminal work counters predominant situationist claims by emphasizing personality is a fundamental determinant of situational antecedents of work behavior (i.e., “the people make the place”). The ASA framework has been the target of substantial research and is a major contribution to understanding the role of personality in the workplace.

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  • Schneider, Benjamin, Harold W. Goldstein, and D. Brent Smith. “The ASA Framework: An Update.” Personnel Psychology 48.4 (1995): 747–773.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1995.tb01780.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The literature on the ASA cycle is reviewed. Integration of individual and organizational theory is encouraged to better understand reciprocal relations between employees and organizations, especially how organizational members’ personality, attitudes, and values become more homogeneous over time. A commonly cited implication is that hiring and retaining similar people increases homogeneity and thereby the risk of stagnation and inability to adapt to dynamic environments.

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Socioanalytic Theory

Drawing from Sigmund Freud, Margaret Mead, and Charles Darwin, socioanalytic theory presents a social-cognitive perspective on personality with direct relevance to organizations. The theory, like most social-cognitive models, is complex. Contrary to trait theory, the “true self” is not amenable to accurate self-report and the aim of assessment is not to match the individual to the job in terms of job-relevant traits. Instead, people describe themselves how they wish to be seen. The theory is cited most often for its distinction between the motives of getting ahead (social status) and getting along (social acceptance; e.g., Digman 1997, cited under Personality Structure) and secondarily as a basis for challenging the problem of faking on self-report personality tests in terms of the identity/reputation distinction.

  • Ewen, Christian, Andreas Wihler, Rachel E. Frieder, Gerhard Blickle, Robert Hogan, and Gerald R. Ferris. “Leader Advancement Motive, Political Skill, Leader Behavior, and Effectiveness: A Moderated Mediation Extension of Socioanalytic Theory.” Human Performance 27.5 (2014): 373–392.

    DOI: 10.1080/08959285.2014.956174Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Applying socioanalytic theory to leadership, a model is tested in which leaders’ getting-ahead motive affects both institutional effectiveness and follower satisfaction by way of leader initiating structure, with the motive-to-initiating structure path moderated by leader political skill. A theoretic advancement is considering initiating structure as a mediator, explaining how the leader motive-by-skill interaction is linked to more distal outcomes. Results support both mediation and moderation hypotheses.

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  • Hogan, Robert. “A Socioanalytic Perspective on the Five-Factor Model.” In The Five-Factor Model of Personality. Edited by J. Wiggins, 163–179. New York: Guildford, 1996.

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    Socioanalytic theory is introduced, stressing evolutionary foundations of the universal motives to get ahead and get along, which play out in organizational roles and agendas. A key distinction is drawn between identity (i.e., the individual’s self-image) and reputation (i.e., how others see the individual). Traits are reputations; the five-factor model is thus a taxonomy of reputations. Personality tests, as self-report measures, capture individuals’ desired reputations and not their traits (e.g., due to selective, self-promoting memories; impression management). The aim of personality assessment in organizations is not to measure traits, but to accurately predict work behavior.

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  • Hogan, Robert, and Dana Shelton. “A Socioanalytic Perspective on Job Performance.” Human Performance 11.2–3 (1998): 129–144.

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    A third motive is added to getting ahead and getting along: finding meaning. Two vectors of individual differences in personality are proposed: temperaments (emotionality, sociability, impulsivity) and strategies to engage motives. Identity (personality from the inside) during social interactions determines choice of agendas and roles, and social skill determines how well identity is translated into reputation (personality from the outside).

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Trait Activation Theory (TAT)

Trait activation theory (TAT) is increasingly cited in studies taking a confirmatory approach to understanding the role of personality traits in organizations, mostly in terms of trait-situation interactions and the situational specificity of trait-performance relationships. Tett and Guterman 2000 offers an empirical proof-of-concept, whereas Tett and Burnett 2003 introduces the theory in detail, including its motivational implications. The book chapter Tett, et al. 2013 expands the theory in several respects. Lievens, et al. 2006 is included for its empirical evaluation of TAT in addressing the challenge of assessment center validity.

  • Lievens, Filip, Christopher S. Chasteen, Eric A. Day, and Neil D. Christiansen. “Large-Scale Investigation of the Role of Trait Activation Theory for Understanding Assessment Center Convergent and Discriminant Validity.” Journal of Applied Psychology 91.2 (2006): 247–258.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.91.2.247Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Addressing longstanding concerns with assessment center construct validity (i.e., within-exercise, between-domain correlations are stronger than within-domain, between-exercise correlations), aggregations of AC correlations, organized by the five-factor model, show dimensional convergence is greater across exercises more similar in trait activation potential, supporting construct validity. Further, cross-exercise dimensional convergence holds when seemingly distinct behaviors (e.g., planning and organizing vs. initiative) are identified as expressive of the same underlying trait (C). Recommendations for AC design are discussed.

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  • Tett, Robert P., and Dawn D. Burnett. “A Personality Trait-Based Interactionist Model of Job Performance.” Journal of Applied Psychology 88.3 (2003): 500–517.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.88.3.500Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Building on trait-situation interactionist principles, as discussed in Murray 1938 (cited under Trait-Situation Interactions) and Weiss and Adler 1984 (cited under General Reviews), trait activation theory is proposed, whereby personality traits are activated by trait-relevant situational cues leading to trait expressions valued as job performance. The theory accommodates situation main effects, situation strength, and reciprocal person-situation effects, and ties personality traits to motivation via intrinsic and extrinsic satisfaction. Applications include accounting for known situational specificity and bidirectionality in trait-outcome relationships.

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  • Tett, Robert P., and Hal A. Guterman. “Situation Trait Relevance, Trait Expression, and Cross-Situational Consistency: Testing a Principle of Trait Activation.” Journal of Research in Personality 34 (2000): 397–423.

    DOI: 10.1006/jrpe.2000.2292Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An initial empirical test of trait activation principles links expression of five personality traits to 10 trait-relevant situations per trait. In support of TAT, self-report trait scores correlate stronger with mean trait expressions in trait-relevant over trait-irrelevant situations. Trait-expression correlations vary in strength within like-targeted situation sets as a function of independently rated trait-relevance. Implications include cross-situational consistency in behavior being tied to situation trait-relevance.

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  • Tett, Robert P., Daniel V. Simonet, Benjamin Walser, and Cameron Brown. “Trait Activation Theory: Applications, Developments, and Implications for Person-Workplace Fit.” In Handbook of Personality at Work. Edited by N. D. Christiansen and R. P. Tett, 71–100. New York: Routledge, 2013.

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    TAT literature is reviewed before two major theoretic advances are described. Discretionary cues activate traits with no direct link to performance but are relevant to intrinsic motivation and job crafting. Trait-based responses to performance (i.e., knowledge of results) and its extrinsic rewards (i.e., differential reward preference) are described as secondary trait activation. Personality’s unique role in fit is identified by its contribution to both satisfaction- and performance-based fit.

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Type Theory

Based on the writings of Karl Jung, type theory proposes four dichotomous “functions” (complementary opposites): extraversion vs. introversion (E/I), sensing vs. intuition (S/N), thinking vs. feeling (T/F), and judging vs. perceiving (J/P). Combining one pole from each function yields sixteen possible personality types (e.g., ENTJ). Combinations sharing similar elements are expected to share corresponding qualities; interactions are expected to engender unique qualities. Further complexities (e.g., functional dominance) make type theory challenging to grasp in the details, such as can be seen in Reynierse 2012. Applications of type theory in the workplace have mostly targeted management and organizational development. The theory has mixed status in organizations. Many organizations are familiar with personality through use of the highly popular Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI), which has raised appreciation for individual differences in personality-based work styles. However, psychometric evaluation of the MBTI and conceptual analysis of type structure (e.g., construct dichotomization) suggest limitations. Two sources were selected for the current review, the first representing organizational applications of traditional type theory, and the second offering a major revision.

  • Reynierse, James. “Toward an Empirically Sound and Radically Revised Type Theory.” Journal of Psychological Type 72 (2012): 1–25.

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    Citing empirical challenges to type theory assumptions, this revision is differentiated in several major respects, including the definition of type as an additive, not interactive, combination of the four functions, alignment of the functions with the FFM dimensions as continua (rather than dichotomies), and addition of situational moderators of functional utility (akin to trait activation). The revision is notably similar to trait theory except it maintains types as primary personality units.

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  • Thorne, Avril, and Harrison Gough. Portraits of Type. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists, 1991.

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    Offering a useful guide to MBTI users, this book summarizes study results from multiple populations linking the sixteen types to cognitive ability, values, attitudes, interviewer ratings, and other variables. Overlap between the S/N and J/P functions is identified; type theory processes are mostly ignored.

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Personality and Work Motivation

Personality has a deep and vital connection to motivation. As the workplace is prime territory for motivated behavior, personality has drawn considerable attention in organizational studies from a motivational standpoint. Two major types of personality-oriented motivation theories are need-based and social-cognitive theories. It bears noting that a number of sources summarized above carry motivational content. Socioanalytic theory (cited under Full Personality Theories), for example, includes motives of getting ahead, getting along, and finding meaning. Trait activation theory (also cited under Full Personality Theories), posits intrinsic motivation deriving from trait expression as need fulfillment and extrinsic motivation from differentially valued performance outcomes. Fit-based theories (e.g., Kristof 1996, cited under Trait-Situation Interactions) are also relevant to motivation (e.g., needs/supplies as a type of complementary person-organization [PO] fit).

Need Theories

Need theories present work motivation as a process of need fulfillment, which is inherently rewarding. Personality traits are often defined as needs, as discussed in Murray 1938 (cited under Trait-Situation Interactions), and so trait-based approaches to organizational behavior may be understood as need-based from a motivational standpoint. Situations are either explicitly or implicitly recognized, so need-based motivational theories tend to be interactionist. The “hierarchy of needs” in Maslow 1943 is the first thing many students learn about personality, and Alderfer 1972 presents a somewhat simplified revision of Maslow’s model. Nygård 1981 and McClelland 1985 represent a theoretic shift away from intuitively plausible but largely unsupported hierarchical trait arrangements toward refinements of underlying trait processes.

  • Maslow, Abraham H. “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Psychological Review 50.4 (1943): 370–396.

    DOI: 10.1037/h0054346Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Building from biological drives, Maslow’s model holds that people have to meet physical needs (sustenance, shelter) and psychological needs (relationships, esteem, self-actualization) for health and growth. Unmet lower needs supersede higher needs, progressing up the hierarchy. While the model’s specifics have met with limited support, the idea of higher-order needs has influenced thinking in many organizational areas, including job design, self-regulation, leadership, and work attitudes.

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  • Alderfer, Clayton P. Existence, Relatedness, and Growth: Human Needs in Organizational Settings. New York: Free Press, 1972.

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    Maslow’s hierarchy is collapsed into three organizational needs: existence (E; pay, security), relatedness (R; social interactions), and growth (G; esteem, self-actualization). The ERG model relaxes Maslow’s assumptions, such that needs operate simultaneously, and frustration of higher needs causes regression to lower needs. A four-year study supports differentiation among the needs as motivators.

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  • McClelland, David C. Human Motivation. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman, 1985.

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    Motive dispositions, defined as acquired orientations toward natural incentives in the environment, are linked to emotions, values, and performance. Four major motive systems—achievement, power, affiliation, avoidance—are tied to varied outcomes (e.g., managerial success, risk taking, economic development). McClelland’s work informs current research on approach and avoid tendencies, desires and needs, and implicit and explicit personality measurement.

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  • Nygård, Roald. “Toward an Interactional Psychology: Models from Achievement Motivation Research.” Journal of Personality 49.4 (1981): 363–387.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1981.tb00220.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Applying interactionism to achievement motivation theory, research on task difficulty as a moderator of achievement-outcome linkages is reviewed for task persistence, performance, and vocational choice. Main effects are weak, but high-achievement individuals perform better on moderately difficult tasks and exert less effort on easy or impossible tasks, whereas failure-avoidant persons show the opposite pattern.

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Social-Cognitive Theories

Social-cognitive theories are complex, typically involving self-regulation, motivational traits (e.g., goal-orientation), and perceived situational factors (Kanfer and Heggestad 1997). Goal-setting, a strongly supported theory of work motivation, is not a personality theory, but its cognitive orientation fits well with social-cognitive principles, lending relevant situational factors (e.g., goal difficulty) and recognition of the self (e.g., self-set goals). Motivational traits (e.g., goal orientation) are an explicit attempt to bring individual differences to bear in goal-setting, otherwise largely a “one-size-fits-all” theory. Atkinson 1957 is widely cited as a source of individual-difference approaches to work motivation. Kanfer and Heggestad 1997 summarizes such approaches in advancing new theory, and the remaining selected works capture assorted cognitive aspects of personality involving self-regulation, identity, goals, and learning.

  • Atkinson, John W. “Motivational Determinants of Risk-Taking Behavior.” Psychological Review 64.6 (1957): 359–372.

    DOI: 10.1037/h0043445Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Building on achievement theory, motivation is presented as the three-way product of motives (i.e., dispositions to approach success and avoid failure), expectancies (i.e., subjective probabilities of success/failure), and incentives (i.e., goal valence). Although similar to expectancy theory of motivation in its cognitive orientation, this early interactionist model focuses directly on personality dispositions, anticipating goal orientation in modern social-cognitive theory.

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  • DeShon, Richard P., and Jennifer Z. Gillespie. “A Motivated Action Theory Account of Goal Orientation.” Journal of Applied Psychology 90.6 (2005): 1096–1127.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.90.6.1096Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critical literature review recasts goal orientation as cognitions and actions arising from choices to pursue mastery (i.e., learning), performance approach, and/or avoidance goals. Motivated Action Theory (MAT), a self-regulatory framework, specifies goals are hierarchically arranged, interconnected, and interact with situational features (e.g., goal relevance). Goal orientations are “mid-level” pursuits emerging from higher-level personality traits and goals, and have stable, domain-specific, and dynamic elements. A one-size-fits-all approach to managing motivation is suboptimal because a given HR process (e.g., 360 feedback) affects different people differently.

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  • Gardner, Donald G., and Jon L. Pierce. “Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy within the Organizational Context: An Empirical Examination.” Group & Organization Management 23.1 (1998): 48–70.

    DOI: 10.1177/1059601198231004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Emphasizing individual differences in self-perceptions of generic task capabilities (generalized self-efficacy) and work-specific affective evaluations (organization-based self-esteem), this longitudinal study supports a partially mediated model in which generalized self-efficacy positively influences job performance and satisfaction via the belief one is a valued organizational member.

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  • Ilgen, Daniel R., and Cori A. Davis. “Bearing Bad News: Reactions to Negative Performance Feedback.” Applied Psychology: An International Review 49.3 (2000): 550–565.

    DOI: 10.1111/1464-0597.00031Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A model is presented in which response to negative feedback is affected by situational and individual characteristics. Encoded by the individual in terms of perceived performance, causal attributions, and affect, negative feedback drives goal-setting, effort, and performance. Individual differences (e.g., self-efficacy, goal orientation, self-regulatory focus) affect interpretation of and reaction to feedback.

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  • Kanfer, Ruth, and Eric D. Heggestad. “Motivational Traits and Skills: A Person-Centered Approach to Work Motivation.” In Research in Organizational Behavior. Vol. 19. Edited by B. M. Staw and L. L. Cummings, 1–56. Greenwich, CT: JAI, 1997.

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    The Motivational Traits and Skills (MTS) framework is proposed as a developmental model distinguishing between distal influences on work motivation, involving relatively stable motivational traits related to approach and avoidant goal-striving tendencies, and proximal influences of learned self-regulation skills used to maintain effort when facing challenges to goal pursuit. MTS organizes new and extant individual difference variables into two broad trait complexes: achievement, tied to motivation control skills (e.g., setting goals), and anxiety, tied to emotional control skills (e.g., positive self-talk).

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General and Hybrid Works

In addition to sources identifiable as need-based or social-cognitive are hybrids offering a bridge between the two, as illustrated in Barrick, et al. 1993; Judge and Ilies 2002; Zweig and Webster 2004; and Yeo and Neal 2008. Yet others, such as Korman 1970 and Hackman and Oldham 1976 are not readily classifiable as either type.

  • Barrick, Murray R., Michael K. Mount, and Judy P. Strauss. “Conscientiousness and Performance of Sales Representatives: Test of the Mediating Effects of Goal Setting.” Journal of Applied Psychology 78.5 (1993): 715–722.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.78.5.715Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Motivational mechanisms (i.e., “will do” factors) are tested toward explaining the personality-job performance relationship. Autonomous goal setting and, to a lesser extent, goal commitment mediate linkages between C and measures of sales proficiency.

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  • Hackman, J. Richard, and Greg R. Oldham. “Motivation through the Design of Work: Test of a Theory.” Organizational Behavior & Human Performance 16.2 (1976): 250–279.

    DOI: 10.1016/0030-5073(76)90016-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This highly influential work introduces the job characteristics model (JCM), proposing indirect effects of five job features (e.g., task variety, task identity) on organizational outcomes (e.g., motivation, satisfaction) via three psychological states (e.g., meaningfulness). Employees high on growth need strength, an engaging blend of achievement and surgency, respond more favorably to an enriched job. The JCM is the first major person-situation model of work design, stressing the fit between job complexity and worker personality.

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  • Judge, Timothy A., and Remus Ilies. “Relationship of Personality to Performance Motivation: A Meta-analytic Review.” Journal of Applied Psychology 87.4 (2002): 797–807.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.87.4.797Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Meta-analysis of correlations between the five-factor model (FFM) and motivational constructs of goal-setting, expectancy beliefs, and self-efficacy supports trait-motivation relationships, especially for (low) N and C. Multivariate analyses combining the FFM yield sizable effects, supporting a trait perspective in motivation research. Specifically, individuals higher in C, ES, and, to a lesser extent, E set more difficult goals and have higher expectations of success.

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  • Korman, Abraham K. “Toward an Hypothesis of Work Behavior.” Journal of Applied Psychology 54.1 (1970): 31–41.

    DOI: 10.1037/h0028656Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A self-consistency model is proposed in which employees are motivated to reinforce, maintain, or enhance their self-concept. Two central tenets are (1) high self-esteem employees are happy and productive because this is consistent with how they view themselves, and (2) individuals are happy in jobs matching their self-image. Results from three experiments show self-perceived competence facilitates task performance. This paper spawned considerable research into work self-concepts (e.g., organizational identity and self-esteem, core self-evaluations).

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  • Yeo, Gillian, and Andrew Neal. “Subjective Cognitive Effort: A Model of States, Traits, and Time.” Journal of Applied Psychology 93.3 (2008): 617–631.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.93.3.617Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Trait and dynamic state approaches are integrated in predicting subjective cognitive effort. Cognitive effort for C individuals is higher, maintained for longer durations, and, for both high-GMA and high-C people, is less contingent on task difficulty. The study is unique in showing how to observe individual differences in unfolding self-regulatory patterns.

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  • Zweig, David, and Jane Webster. “What Are We Measuring? An Examination of the Relationships between the Big-Five Personality Traits, Goal Orientation, and Performance Intentions.” Personality and Individual Differences 36.7 (2004): 1693–1708.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2003.07.010Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    All five FFM factors are positively associated with learning orientation and negatively associated with performance avoidance, whereas only (low) ES and C are related to performance approach. Goal orientations, in addition, partially mediate FFM-performance intentions linkages. This study shows that social-cognitive differences in approaches to learning add to personality-based motivation beyond the FFM.

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Career Choice

The literature on personality and vocational interests is expansive, owing largely to the empirically supported hexagonal framework of career and personality types in Holland 1997. Based on interactionist principles, the RIASEC (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, conventional) model is the foundation for most vocational interest inventories and is incorporated into the US Department of Labor’s O*NET system. Here, we summarize a few key sources emphasizing the role of personality in career choice.

  • Holland, John L. Making Vocational Choices: A Theory of Vocational Personalities and Work Environments. 3d ed. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources, 1997.

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    This book, first published in 1974, offers a personality-based, interactionist theory of vocational choice, proposing that people fall into one of six personality types (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, conventional) and congruence is achieved when a person’s type matches the situation. The six types form a RIASEC hexagon permitting a calculus in which distances between types/environments reflect theoretical relationships between them. Holland’s model has been highly influential in the vocational literature. Applications to other personality-relevant processes (e.g., selection) seem underutilized.

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  • de Fruyt, Filip, and Ivan Mervielde. “RIASEC Types and Big Five Traits as Predictors of Employment Status and Nature of Employment.” Personnel Psychology 52.3 (1999): 701–727.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1999.tb00177.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this first longitudinal study comparing vocational interests and personality traits (FFM) as predictors of employment status, RIASEC predicts occupational choice whereas FFM-E and C predict actual employment. Findings support distinctions between traits and interests: RIASEC is an employee-driven model of job choice, whereas the FFM is an employer-driven model of employability and job success.

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  • Judge, Timothy A., Chad A. Higgins, Carl J. Thoresen, and Murray R. Barrick. “The Big Five Personality Traits, General Mental Ability, and Career Success across the Life Span.” Personnel Psychology 52.3 (1999): 621–652.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1999.tb00174.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Three studies assess the dispositional bases of two aspects of career success: extrinsic (e.g., pay, promotions) and intrinsic (e.g., job satisfaction). Five-factor model (FFM) dimensions are related to career success (controlling for GMA), adulthood measures more so than childhood measures. C positively predicts intrinsic and extrinsic success, N negatively predicts extrinsic success, and GMA positively predicts extrinsic success. Longitudinal effects suggest A is the least stable over the lifespan, whereas C is most stable.

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Leadership and Management

Leadership has long been considered in relation to personality. Early reviews in Stogdill 1948 and Mann 1959 stifled research in this area for many years. A notable exception was Fiedler 1967, whose trait-like concept of “leader style” was proposed to interact with situational factors defining leader suitability. The meta-analysis in Lord, et al. 1986, showing sizable relations between personality and leader emergence, further drove the resurgence of personality in leadership. Later works benefited, like so many in the field, from reliance on the five-factor model (FFM), evident most clearly in the meta-analysis in Judge, et al. 2002.

  • Chatman, Jennifer A., David F. Caldwell, and Charles A. O’Reilly. “Managerial Personality and Performance: A Semi-idiographic Approach.” Journal of Research in Personality 33.4 (1999): 514–545.

    DOI: 10.1006/jrpe.1999.2263Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A “semi-idiographic” approach to personality assessment using the California Adult Q-Set is advanced in linking specific traits and managerial behavior. In support, MBA students with personalities similar to the “template of the successful young manager” received better job offers and higher salaries, and experienced greater career stability.

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  • Craik, Kenneth H., Aaron P. Ware, John Kamp, et al. “Explorations of Construct Validity in a Combined Managerial and Personality Assessment Programme.” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 75 (2002): 171–193.

    DOI: 10.1348/09631790260098758Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Assessment center exercises are used to assess relations between the FFM and two managerial performance dimensions. Strategic managerial style, best assessed using an in-basket test, relates strongest with C and O. Interpersonal managerial style, best assessed using leaderless group discussions, relates strongest with E, O, and low A. Overall managerial potential relates strongest with E and O. The main theoretic merit of this study is showing how different traits, expressed as trait-relevant managerial styles, are triggered by different AC exercises.

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  • Fiedler, Frederick E. A Theory of Leader Effectiveness. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967.

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    An interactionist “contingency theory” of leadership is described in which the leader’s style, varying from “task motivated” to “relationship motivated,” interacts with leader “favorableness” to determine leader effectiveness. Proposed before the interactionist renaissance of the 1970s, Fiedler’s theory is notable for its early rejection of mainstream situationism in leadership.

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  • Judge, Timothy A., Joyce E. Bono, Remus Ilies, and Megan W. Gerhardt. “Personality and Leadership: A Qualitative and Quantitative Review.” Journal of Applied Psychology 87.4 (2002): 765–780.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.87.4.765Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Following detailed qualitative literature review, quantitative meta-analysis supports personality traits as related to leadership. Situational moderators are ignored in the analyses but discussed as targets for research. Evidence of bidirectionality involving A (such that high A benefits leadership in some jobs and low A in others) is ignored, leading to underestimation of the value of A in leadership.

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  • Kirkpatrick, Shelley A., and Edwin A. Locke. “Leadership: Do Traits Matter?” Academy of Management Executive 5.2 (1991): 48–60.

    DOI: 10.5465/AME.1991.4274679Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In light of the reemergence of personality as relevant to organizational behavior, rationales are offered for why certain traits are related to leadership, in particular, drive, achievement, ambition, energy, tenacity, initiative, honesty and integrity, and self-confidence. Cognitive ability and knowledge of the business are also discussed. Although lacking deep theoretical content, this paper offers cogent construct-driven logic for specific trait-leadership relationships.

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  • Lord, Robert G., Christy L. de Vader, and George M. Alliger. “A Meta-analysis of the Relation between Personality Traits and Leadership Perceptions: An Application of Validity Generalization Procedures.” Journal of Applied Psychology 71 (1986): 402–410.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.71.3.402Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Modern meta-analytic methods applied to the original data in Mann 1959 yield more favorable results. Besides serving as a catalyst for research, this paper carries theoretic merit by focusing on leader emergence from a social-cognitive perspective. Implicit personality theory holds that observers judge others as leaders to the degree they are seen to fit preconceived leadership prototypes. The leader emergence/effectiveness distinction is revisited in the meta-analysis in Judge, et al. 2002.

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  • Mann, Richard D. “A Review of the Relationships between Personality and Performance in Small Groups.” Psychological Bulletin 56.4 (1959): 241–270.

    DOI: 10.1037/h0044587Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Summary of over 1,400 findings linking leader traits and behavior yield relatively consistent support for intelligence and less so for a variety of personality traits, including adjustment, dominance, and conservatism. Although personality is not cast in a negative light, the work was often cited over subsequent decades as suggesting personality has at best weak relations with leadership.

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  • Stogdill, Ralph M. “Personal Factors Associated with Leadership: A Survey of the Literature.” Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied 25 (1948): 35–71.

    DOI: 10.1080/00223980.1948.9917362Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Summary of results from 124 studies published between 1904 and 1927 identifies several personality traits (e.g., self-confidence, sociability) linked to leadership success, yet situations are emphasized as the primary force shaping leader behavior. Many cite this latter observation in rejecting personality as a viable target of leadership research.

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  • de Hoogh, Annebel H. B., Deanne N. Den Hartog, and Paul L. Koopman. “Linking the Big Five-Factors of Personality to Charismatic and Transactional Leadership; Perceived Dynamic Work Environment as a Moderator.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 26.7 (2005): 839–865.

    DOI: 10.1002/job.344Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    “Perceived dynamic work environment” (e.g., crisis) is proposed to moderate links between the FFM and charismatic and transactional leadership. Consistent with trait activation theory, in dynamic situations, O and N relate more positively with charismatic leadership, A and C relate more negatively with both leadership dimensions. That N and C correlate with charismatic leadership in the direction opposite mainstream expectations supports bidirectionality and the value of trait-situation interactionist principles.

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A work team is two or more people with specific roles who work toward a common goal within a limited timeframe. In the earliest review of personality in work groups, Mann 1959 (cited under Leadership and Management) encouraged further research, a challenge not seriously pursued until the late 1990s, as seen in Barrick, et al. 1998. Teamwork highlights both task-related and interpersonal aspects of personality, presenting complexities involving team types, member roles, intermember relationships, and both individual- and team-levels of analysis. Integrative theories in this area have yet to emerge, but nascent theoretical concepts are evident in each of the representative sources selected here.

  • Barrick, Murray R., Greg J. Stewart, Mitchell J. Neubert, and Michael K. Mount. “Relating Member Ability and Personality to Work-Team Processes and Team Effectiveness.” Journal of Applied Psychology 83.3 (1998): 377–391.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.83.3.377Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Teams averaging higher on general mental ability, C, A, E, and ES are rated higher on team performance, and E and ES are related to team viability through social cohesion. Results involving other team composition variables (e.g., variance, minimum) are less consistent.

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  • Driskell, James E., Gerald F. Goodwin, Eduardo Salas, and Patrick G. O’Shea. “What Makes a Good Team Player? Personality and Team Effectiveness.” Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice 10.4 (2006): 249–271.

    DOI: 10.1037/1089-2699.10.4.249Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Greater specificity in linking team personality and effectiveness is encouraged in light of trait and performance multidimensionality. Literature review suggests facets of five-factor model traits may have differential and possibly contradictory ties to facets of team effectiveness. Expectations offer directions for programmatic research on personality and teamwork, illustrating the synergy between construct specificity and theoretic advance.

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  • Halfhill, Terry, Tjai M. Nielsen, Eric Sundstrom, and Adam Weilbaecher. “Group Personality Composition and Performance in Military Service Teams.” Military Psychology 17.1 (2005): 41–54.

    DOI: 10.1207/s15327876mp1701_4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Average and minimum group-level C and A correlate positively with performance in military teams, whereas variance in A relates negatively. Performance is especially high in teams averaging high on both C and A, suggesting complementary trait processes relating to formation of group norms around collective personality.

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  • Humphrey, Stephan E., John R. Hollenbeck, Christopher J. Meyer, and Daniel R. Ilgen. “Trait Configurations in Self-Managed Teams: A Conceptual Examination of the Use of Seeding for Maximizing and Minimizing Trait Variance in Teams.” Journal of Applied Psychology 92.3 (2007): 885–892.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.92.3.885Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Drawing on principles of supplementary and complementary fit, effects of different trait configurations are considered in self-managed teams. Teams with high variance in extraversion (serving complementary fit) and low variance in conscientiousness (serving supplementary fit) are proposed as more likely to succeed. Deliberate “seeding” of teams to achieve desired trait variances is described as a team-building technique.

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  • Prewett, Matthew S., Ashley A. G. Walvoord, Frederick R. B. Stilson, Michael E. Rossi, and Michael T. Brannick. “The Team Personality-Team Performance Relationship Revisited: The Impact of Criterion Choice, Pattern of Workflow, and Method of Aggregation.” Human Performance 22.4 (2009): 273–296.

    DOI: 10.1080/08959280903120253Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Applying fit theory to trait- versus task-based approaches to team composition, meta-analysis of team personality-performance linkages examines moderators of performance type, (behavioral, outcome), workflow type (pooled, reciprocal, intensive), and trait aggregation methods (mean, minimum, maximum, variance). Relations are stronger with process variables than outcomes, and when team members have to work together. Interactions among task type and aggregation method promote theoretic development.

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  • Tett, Robert P., and Patrick J. Murphy. “Personality and Situations in Co-worker Preference: Similarity and Complementarity in Worker Compatibility.” Journal of Business and Psychology 17.2 (2002): 223–243.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1019685515745Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Guided by fit-oriented personality theories (e.g., trait activation), coworker preference is examined in light of trait-relevant work situations. As hypothesized, participants prefer coworkers providing opportunity for trait expression, especially in light of who is in charge, work proximity, and enjoyment over productivity.

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Due to its convenience in administration and scoring, the self-report survey is, by far, the most common method of assessing personality in the workplace. Relying on self-description raises obvious concerns in personnel selection settings, given clear incentives for making a favorable impression. Socially desirable responding is typically understood to include self-deception, the unintended (i.e., honest) overstatement of one’s qualities, and impression management (i.e., faking), the intentional (i.e., dishonest) overstatement of one’s qualities. Research on response distortion is as old as personality tests themselves. Increasing interest in personality tests has prompted increased theoretic attention to response distortion. Griffith and Peterson 2006 is a testament to this growing interest. Schmit and Ryan 1993 shows how faking under motivated conditions (i.e., in job applicants) can distort validity of self-report trait measures, challenging the stability of the five-factor model (FFM). A series of theoretical models of faking, proposed in Snell, et al. 1999; McFarland and Ryan 2000; Goffin and Boyd 2009; and Tett and Simonet 2011, identify underlying traits and mechanisms, paving the way for possible control of faking.

  • Goffin, Richard D., and Allison C. Boyd. “Faking and Personality Assessment in Personnel Selection: Advancing Models of Faking.” Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne 50.3 (2009): 151–160.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0015946Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A unique item-level model is proposed in which motivation to fake mediates the effects of various individual difference and contextual factors. Personality traits including Machiavellianism, integrity, and need for approval affect motivation to fake, and traits including Narcissism, social astuteness, and C facets influence ability to fake. The model informs a decision tree capturing key complexities in the cognitive processes involved in faking a given item.

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  • Griffith, Richard L., and Mitchell H. Peterson. A Closer Examination of Applicant Faking Behavior. Greenwich, CT: IAP, 2006.

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    Offering a rich introduction to the faking literature, fourteen chapters by leading experts cover various topics, including the history, detection, and control of faking. Several chapters offer theories of faking, including trait-based, interactionist, cognitive, and socioanalytic perspectives, varying in presenting faking as problematic.

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  • McFarland, Lynn A., and Ann Marie Ryan. “Variance in Faking across Noncognitive Measures.” Journal of Applied Psychology 85.5 (2000): 812–821.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.85.5.812Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Individual differences in faking are identified. Respondents lower on integrity or C, or higher on N fake more. Contrary to expectations, self-monitoring is mostly unrelated to faking. A chain model proposes values and personality traits affect beliefs about faking, leading to faking intentions, then faking behavior. Situational variables (e.g., desire for the job) moderate the belief-intention link, and both ability and opportunity to fake moderate the intention-behavior link.

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  • Schmit, Mark J., and Ann Marie Ryan. “The Big Five in Personnel Selection: Factor Structure in Applicant and Nonapplicant Populations.” Journal of Applied Psychology 78.6 (1993): 966–974.

    DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.78.6.966Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Personality structure is shown to vary by how test takers expect scores will be used. The FFM is supported under “nonconsequential” (i.e., incumbent) conditions but an ideal employee factor, combining items from all trait domains, emerges under “consequential” (i.e., applicant) conditions. Expectations are guided by theory bearing on situation-specific activation of cognitive self-schemas.

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  • Snell, Andrea F., Eric J. Sydell, and Sarah B. Lueke. “Towards a Theory of Applicant Faking: Integrating Studies of Deception.” Human Resource Management Review 9.2 (1999): 219–242.

    DOI: 10.1016/S1053-4822(99)00019-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An interactional model of faking is proposed in which ability and motivation to fake mediate effects of disposition (e.g., general mental ability, Machiavellianism), experience (e.g., job knowledge), test factors (e.g., item format), demographics (e.g., gender), and perception (e.g., fairness). Context (e.g., faking warnings, competition) moderates those effects. The incumbent/applicant motivational distinction is highlighted in advancing faking theory and research.

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  • Tett, Robert P., and Daniel V. Simonet. “Faking in Personality Assessment: A ‘Multisaturation’ Perspective on Faking as Performance.” Human Performance 24.4 (2011): 302–321.

    DOI: 10.1080/08959285.2011.597472Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Expanding on earlier models, such as Snell, et al. 1999, faking is framed as a type of performance, fed by the three-way product of ability, motivation, and opportunity to fake. Trait activation theory is used to explain faking as the expression of certain traits (e.g., ambition) and abilities (e.g., general mental ability) triggered by trait-relevant situational cues (e.g., competition in selection settings). Implications include designing and engaging selection programs to limit activation of traits serving faking.

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