Beyond Intelligence (IO Psychology)
Publication: Personality and Individual Differences (in press)
Article: When IQ is not everything: Intelligence, personality and academic performance at school
Authors: Patrick C.L. Heaven & Joseph Ciarrochi
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin, M.A.
Does the most intelligent person get the best grades? One would think that the person with the most intellectual horsepower would excel at a variety of subjects and attain a grade point average commensurate with his or her intellectual potential. But that is not always the case. Why not?
In investigating other predictors of academic performance, Heaven and Ciarrochi assessed the cognitive ability, which was measured by standardized tests that include five numerical and three verbal subtests; personality, which was assessed by the International Personality Item Pool that evaluates extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism; and school grades in the subjects of Religious Studies, English, Mathematics, Science, History, and Geography among 786 high school students in Australia. It was found that the predictors of academic performance were, in addition to cognitive ability, the personality characteristics of conscientiousness and openness. As a caveat, openness was a significant predictor of grades only among students who had high cognitive abilities.
These results infer that there is more to academic performance than just intelligence. In order to get a better understanding of the predictors of performance – whether it is in a schoolroom or any other context- a more holistic approach that considers factors such as personality may yield more accurate results.
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
Can Personality Lead to Better Performance?
Topic: Motivation, Personality, Job Performance
Publication: Personality and Individual Differences (MAR 2009)
Article: Using a two-factor theory of achievement motivation to examine performance-based outcomes and self-regulatory processes.
Authors: Story, P.A., Hart, J.W., Stasson, M.F., & Mahoney, J.M.
Reviewed By: Samantha Paustian-Underdahl
Have you ever wondered why some employees seem to find it easier to achieve their organizational goals than others? Current research proposes that theories of achievement motivation can explain some of these employee differences. Achievement motivation refers to the tendency to set and work toward personal goals and/or standards (Cassidy & Lynn, 1989). It can be broken down into two motivational factors: intrinsic achievement motivation (IAM) and extrinsic achievement motivation (EAM) (Ryan & Deci, 2000). While researchers agree that achievement motivation is a complicated concept, many disagree about how it differs amongst employees.
Researchers debate how individuals who are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated may differ in their self-regulation and in their need for learning. In the current study, Story, Hart, Stasson, and Mahoney (2009) examined 340 college students in order to look into these two issues. They found that IAM scores were positively related with scores on the Need for Cognition scale. Thus, greater levels of intrinsic motivation were associated with a higher need for cognition.
It seems that employees who are intrinsically motivated may be more interested in mastering skills and learning new material than in simply meeting a goal or competing with coworkers. On the other hand, EAM was not significantly related to need for cognition. The authors believe that rather than being motivated by learning, extrinsically motivated employees may be motivated by competition and external rewards.
The authors also found that IAM was positively related to frequency of self-regulation, showing that those with higher levels of intrinsic motivation reported higher levels of self-regulation. However, there was no significant correlation between EAM and frequency of self regulation. Extrinsically motivated employees may need a greater push from management (e.g., rewards, deadlines, regulation) in order to successfully reach their goals.
The take-away here is that depending on the type of motivation an employee has, and the kinds of organizational policies and practices in place, an employee may find it more or less difficult to work towards achieving their goals. Intrinsically motivated employees will naturally be compelled to learn and master organizational skills and tasks. They will probably not be motivated by deadlines or external rewards. On the other hand, extrinsically motivated employees are more likely to succeed in competitive environments in which they have deadlines and are closely regulated by supervisors. Intrinsically motivated employees however, may be more successful in environments where they can independently regulate their goal-attainment strategies.
Story, P.A., Hart, J.W., Stasson, M.F., & Mahoney, J.M. (2009). Using a two-factor theory of achievement motivation to examine performance-based outcomes and self-regulatory processes. Personality and Individual Differences, 46, 391-395.
Which Employees Set the Bar Higher?
Topic: Personality, Motivation, Goals
Publication: Personality and Individual Differences (JAN 2010)
Article: Individual differences in reactions to goal-performance discrepancies over time.
Authors: P.D. Converse, E. Steinhauser, and J. Pathak
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
By nature, a goal creates a discrepancy between an employee’s current performance and some future state. For example, though I have only written one and half sentences, my goal is to write a full review. Thus, by setting this goal, I have created a goal-performance discrepancy for myself. Research suggests that goal-performance discrepancies motivate employees to modify their goals (either up or down) and/or efforts toward attaining those goals (slack off or try harder).
A recent study by Converse, Steinhauser, and Pathak suggests that several individual differences predict how individuals behave in response to goal-performance discrepancies (which comes in the form of performance feedback). Converse et al.’s study was conducted on a sample of 90 college students taking an introductory psychology course.
Past research has found that, in general, individuals tend to set lower goals after receiving negative feedback (i.e., large goal-performance discrepancy) and set higher goals following positive feedback. Converse et al. found that this trend is especially true for individuals with an internal locus of control (i.e., believe that they have control over outcomes). Individuals with an external locus of control (believe that they have little control over outcomes) do not follow this pattern, as they tend to set slightly higher goals following negative feedback.
Also, individuals high in self-efficacy tend to set higher goals for themselves, especially after receiving positive feedback. Highly efficacious people have more confidence in their ability and thus are more willing to challenge themselves by setting the bar a little higher. Finally, whereas conscientious individuals tend to increase effort following negative feedback, they may actually reduce effort following positive feedback. Converse et al. speculate that conscientious individuals may allocate resources away from the goal and consciously juggle other goals and/or priorities, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Crazy Leadership Findings
Topic: Emotions at Work, Leadership, Personality
Publication: Personality and Individual Differences
Article: The “dark” side of leadership personality and transformational leadership: an exploratory study.
Are you tired of all the literature linking narcissism to leadership?
Ready for a new spin? Well, buckle your safety belts and whirl around with me. A recent article by Khoo
and Burch (2008) found some evidence linking a histrionic/colorful personality dimension to positively predict transformational leadership (which could be described as motivating followers to develop, perform, and reach above and beyond their goals). The authors used the Hogan Development Survey (HDS) in their analysis, and overlapped HDS’s personality themes with personality disorders in the DSM-IV. That’s how they got the “histrionic/colorful” dimension and terminology (the first term is from the
DSM-IV, and the second is from the HDS).
Hmmmmmm . . . So is this really true?! Are people who demonstrate exaggerated emotionality, draw attention to themselves, overly dramatize most things, and enter and exit rooms like they’re the second coming actually more likely to be transformational leaders? I challenge you now to think of someone you know with that type of personality I just described. Now think of them leading a company. A little bit frightening, isn’t it?
The authors also found that avoidant/cautious (characterized by social inhibition, for example) and
narcissistic/bold (you know what this is; think Stephen Colbert) types were less likely to demonstrate transformational leadership.
So to all you Colbert-types out there: just because you are rating yourselves high on leadership doesn’t necessarily mean that other people rate you high
on leadership. (Food for thought that may not be all that appetizing.)
This study’s findings are interesting, but I’d like to see more research done on this topic before I decide how I feel about it. In the meantime I’ll be sitting around wondering about how slight craziness may pay off if used in the right way. Play the hand your dealt, I suppose? I think many people would sooner change card games.