Personality Similarity in Organizations and Occupations

Topic(s): personality
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (2012)
Article: Homogeneity of Personality in Occupations and Organizations: A Comparison of Alternative Statistical Tests
Authors: Bradley-Geist, J. C., and Landis, R. S.
Reviewed by: Neil Morelli

You’ve probably heard the expression, “It takes a certain type of person to be a (fill in occupation),” but is this really true? According to the attraction-selection-attrition (ASA) homogeneity hypothesis, it is. ASA says that organizations or occupations are likely to be made of people with similar personalities, attitudes, and values due to the “weeding-out” process of recruiting, selecting, and retaining certain “types” of people.”


Typically, this hypothesis has been tested using a multivariate analysis of variance or MANOVA, which makes conclusions about within-group similarity based on between-group differences. In this study, the authors wanted to accomplish two things. One, offer up a new, more direct test of ASA called the average deviation (AD), which focuses primarily on the degree of agreement within a group. And two, the authors wanted to answer the question, “are people similar in occupations to the same degree they are similar in organizations?”


Bradley-Geist and Landis examined Myers-Briggs results from more than 15,000 managers to test their hypotheses. Other than making the case for using AD to test the ASA homogeneity hypothesis, the authors discovered that the ASA model was supported (to similar degrees) at both the organizational and occupational level. In other words, birds of a feather really do flock together. Practically, this means that there are certain personality types that are more strongly associated with certain organizations and occupations; thus, identifying relevant personality traits could help predict organizational or occupational membership.


Bradley-Geist, J. C., & Landis, R. S. (2012). Homogeneity of personality in occupations and organizations: A comparison of alternative statistical tests. Journal of Business and Psychology, 27(2), 149-159.

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