How Gender and Personality Contribute to the Wage Gap
Do you have a soft heart, take an interest in the well-being of others, or have a tendency to sympathize with the hardships of your friends? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it could be adversely affecting your income. It turns out that the old expression “nice guys finish last” may have some truth to it.
Through a series of four studies, Timothy Judge of Notre Dame, Beth Livingston of Cornell, & Charlice Hurst of the University of Western Ontario found that agreeable individuals and women had lower incomes than disagreeable individuals and men. This relationship between agreeableness and wages was more pronounced among men. Evidence further supported that there is social backlash against agreeable men. Disagreeable men had greater incomes than agreeable men, and highly agreeable men suffered even more.
When it came to women, the income discrepancy between disagreeable and agreeable individuals was smaller. It appears that gender is the primary factor affecting women, with agreeableness being merely another dynamic in the well-documented wage gap that currently exists between the salaries of men and women.
However, don’t take these results as carte blanche for rudeness at the office. It is important to note that further research will be needed to determine exactly why this connection between disagreeableness and higher wages occurs. One possibility is that less agreeable individuals are simply more able to pursue career opportunities, due to having fewer social or familial ties. Until then, we will simply have to gather more data and keep our eyes open for unexpected or unjustified inequities of opportunity and salary.
Genuine Leadership: How sincerity is the key to successful organizational leadership
By now surely everyone knows that the key to successful organizational leadership is sincerity. Genuine Leadership — that is, leadership by individuals who make an effort to be open and honest in their dealings — has become the gold standard for successful team building and a basic expectation for professional advancement. No one wants to work for someone who is cold or aloof. Master networkers and business leaders earn their titles by being authentic and real. However, there’s a fine line between being genuine, on the one hand, and over-sharing or talking about yourself in a self-deprecating manner, on the other. If you ever hope to be seen as a credible source, you want people to be able to trust in you and take you seriously. That means you must be able to walk a tightrope between the two extremes. Not an easy task. Fortunately, the authors, Rosh and Offerman (2013), have explored this issue and bring us new information regarding leadership psychology that provides some helpful tips and advice on how to balance along that line.
- ‘Build a Foundation of Self Knowledge’- Take a good, hard look at yourself and reflect on how your experiences have enabled you to become the person you are today. Ask for some feedback. Think about which stories portray you in the best light or show healthy growth, and which ones you might want to keep to yourself.
- ‘Consider Relevance to the Task’- Share anecdotes related to the task at hand. Don’t simply make small talk in an effort to ingratiate yourself to others. Genuine leadership is about building a strong, functional team, not about shoring up personal insecurities by becoming everyone’s pal.
- ‘Keep Revelations Genuine’- This one is simple: Don’t make anything up. Successful organizational leadership is based on trust. Need I say more?
- ‘Understand the Organizational and Cultural Context’ – Be aware of cultural norms, and consider how others from different countries, companies, or functions will react to what you’re saying. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and sensitivity. It isn’t mere political correctness to respect the feelings and experiences of others.
- ‘Delay or Avoid Very Personal Disclosures’- Ummm… Not everyone has to know that you fell flat on your face in the elevator this morning, or that your skirt is being held together by some strong masking tape and a couple of push pins you found in the supply closet. Those kinds of stories should be reserved for friends, after the work day is done.
Step Aside Extroverts! Introverts and Neurotics Comin’ Through
Currently, the I/O community seems to be abuzz dispelling myths and commonly held misperceptions about individual differences as they relate to “the Big Five” personality dimensions. The recent release of Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, has now made it cooler than ever to be an introvert, and I/Os are stepping up their efforts to provide emperical proof that introverts indeed “have got it goin’ on.”
The present research by Bendersky & Shah (2013) not only builds on research regarding ‘the dark sides of extraversion,’ but also adds to existing literature on “the bright sides of neuroticism.” Yes. You read that correctly. For all of you highly emotional, anxious people out there, this one’s for you.
As we all know, extroverts crave attention, exude confidence, and love to dominate conversations, which often earns them high status within their workgroups and election to leadership positions. Neurotics on the other hand tend to be anxious, emotionally volatile and withdrawn at times, which earns them lower status within their groups and makes them considerably less likely to emerge as group leaders.
However, Bendersky & Shah (2013) found that in the long term, the qualities that make extroverts, well extroverts, make them poor team players. As a result, they often fail to meet group expectations and ultimately lose some of their hierarchical status. On the other hand, the bar is usually set pretty low for those with a high level of neuroticism, so there’s really nowhere for them to go but up. Neurotics’ anxious tendencies and concerns about how they are perceived by fellow group members make them prepare more for and persist longer at tasks, enabling them to exceed group expectations and earn respect and greater status within the group hierarchy over time.
Turns out being a bit neurotic may not be as bad as we once thought!
Emotional Labor: The True Cost of Service with a Smile
Talk about demanding work! In addition to their typical job duties, like waiting on tables, making sales, or assisting customers, customer service professionals must also perform emotional labor. When employees smile cheerfully at the end of a grueling shift, they are performing something called surface acting, which is a type of emotional labor. Research has shown that emotional labor can lead to psychological strain and fatigue. The current study (Beal, Trougakos, Weiss, & Dalal, 2013) has made advancements in this area of research by scrutinizing a new variable, called “affect spin”.
The authors define “affect spin” as the extent to which people experience a variety of different emotions throughout the day. For example, some people might fluctuate between two or three emotional states throughout the day, while others fluctuate between six or seven. Why does this matter? The authors conducted a study of restaurant servers in multiple restaurants, and found that levels of “affect spin” influence the degree to which the servers experienced psychological strain and other negative outcomes due to the emotional labor they performed.
When individuals experience many different emotions during the day (high “affect spin”), they also tend to react more strongly to emotionally charged events. Indeed, the study found that these servers experienced more psychological strain as a result of their surface acting. Additionally, people who experience many different emotions may find it harder to predict how they will feel at any given time. This unpredictability makes them exert more effort in forcing themselves to display the “right” emotions on the job. The study also found that people high on “affect spin” experienced more fatigue as a result of their emotional labor.
However, the authors also found that people with high levels of “affect spin” may also have the ability to experience higher levels of psychological strain without it leading to fatigue. This is because they may have more experience with feeling “stressed out”, and therefore handle it better. In other words, being high on “affect spin” has its advantages in addition to its disadvantages.
So yes, servers and other customer service professionals are at risk for psychological strain and fatigue due to the emotional labor required of them. However, thanks to this study, we better understand that not all individuals respond to those job demands in the same way, and why. Although this sheds light on who may be best cut out to do customer service work, as always (say this with a smile), more work is necessary.
Conscientiousness and Job Performance: Is Conscientiousness Always King?
Conscientiousness is a predictor of job performance in many jobs, job levels, and industries. But does being conscientious still predict job performance as strongly when characteristics and requirements of the job change? Is conscientiousness the Holy Grail of employee traits?
To learn more about this, the authors conducted a meta-analysis across 53 research studies where conscientiousness was a predictor of job performance. They then rated the jobs that were included in these studies on a number of factors including the level of worker autonomy, how much of the work followed a routine, how much thought and mental ability was required, and so on.
Overall, there were two big takeaways:
- Conscientiousness was a stronger predictor of performance for jobs that required more routine, structured work.
- Conscientiousness was a weaker predictor of performance in roles that required high levels of cognitive ability, possibly suggesting that intelligence in some way suppresses the influence of personality on job performance.
Taken together, conscientiousness may be more useful in roles with a lot of routine, which are more likely to be hourly and/or entry level roles. Alternatively, conscientiousness may not be as useful for higher-level roles that require more thought and mental ability. Thus, spending on assessments to determine conscientiousness may only be selectively useful. It’s a good lesson in not only what predicts job performance, but what is worth spending your budget on for successful hiring decisions.
What do you think about conscientiousness and job performance? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
Aberrant personality and career performance (IO Psychology)
Previous research has shown that personality traits – such as being conscientious, open to experience, and outgoing – predict job performance 1. What about uncommon (i.e., aberrant) characteristics such as being obsessive-compulsive, antisocial, and narcissistic? According to a study by Bart Wille , Filip De Fruyt, & Barbara De Clercq of Ghent University, aberrant personality characteristics also predict job performance. Specifically, borderline features, which includes having unstable interpersonal relations and poor impulse control; schizotypal traits, such as odd thoughts and disorganized thinking; and avoidant tendencies, such as social inhibition and hypersensitivity to criticism, were related to negative career outcomes. In contrast, antisocial traits, such as superficial charm and a disregard for others, and narcissistic features, such as a strong sense of self-importance and a need to be admired, were related to positive career outcomes. As an illustration of how antisocial and narcissistic traits may have a positive affect on career outcomes and allow people and companies to achieve great success, think of Gordon Gecko from the movie Wall Street. Or, if you prefer non-fiction, think of the various leaders of organizations who are charged with insider trading (e.g., Raj Rajaratnam), fraudulent accounting (e.g., Enron), or creating a ponzi scheme (e.g., Bernie Madhoff).
Overall, these results were found through a 15-year study of 247 Belgian college students. In 1994, participants responded to a personality questionnaire, and 15 years later, their career performance was evaluated. The NEO PI-R, a comprehensive personality questionnaire, measured personality. Income, number of subordinates, and managerial position served as indicators of extrinsic career success, and job satisfaction, career satisfaction, and perceived job stress served as indicators of intrinsic career success.
When Reading Research Leads to a Brain Full of “What?!” (IO Psychology)
When you read scientific research, you should be left feeling as though you gained knowledge and/or have something new and shiny that can be applied to the real world. But once in a while you finish an article and there is nothing but unpoppable “What did I just read?!” bubbles floating in your brain.
This article focused on how applicants’ personality types might impact their reactions to assessment tests within a hiring process. Specifically, candidates for firefighter, dispatcher, and rescue management roles had to complete a series of personality and cognitive assessments as a part of the selection process. Immediately after, they were asked to complete a voluntary survey asking about their reactions to the tests. The researchers found that personality types had no impact on applicants’ perceptions that the assessments were related to the job and that the tests could predict future job performance. One personality type did perceive the tests as less fair than those with other personality types, but the difference may not have been large enough to have real meaning.
As I kept reading the article, I kept wondering how this information would be applied, or even how it would be useful. I kept wondering this because the authors never told me. The authors briefly mention previous research stating that applicant reactions can impact whether or not a candidate might accept a job offer and/or impact their future performance on the job. Yet they never relate their own findings to this previous research. I was left hanging.
The study also had a number of confounds, a few of which the authors acknowledged. Looking solely at rescue applicants isn’t representative of most jobs and applicants. Candidates had to first pass a physical test before they were allowed to begin the personality and cognitive assessments. The reactions survey only asked for their reactions to the personality and cognitive tests, but wouldn’t their perceptions of the physical test muck up their thoughts a bit?
Also, participants voluntarily completed the reactions survey, and not everyone completed it. Wouldn’t the thoughts of those who did NOT want to share their reactions be critical? Finally, their research found different reactions to the assessments based on gender and age, but they never investigated further, which I found disappointing.
Now I have to be fair and say that no research is perfect. All research has confounds. But when you feel as though you don’t get the “so what?” of the entire study and there are also lots of confounds, how are you supposed to react?
After reading this article I was left feeling a little icky inside. But it reminded me that reading research with a discerning amount of skepticism is not only healthy, it is mandatory. It reminded me of a wonderful quote by the philosopher George Santayana: “Skepticism, like chastity, should not be relinquished too readily.”
Job performance and personality
Publication: Personnel Psychology (1991)
Article: The big five personality dimensions and job performance: A meta-analysis
Authors: Murray R. Barrick & Michael K. Mount
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin
Personality and job performance are related, according to a study performed by Murray Barrick of Texas A & M University and Michael K. Mount of the University of Iowa. Those who are conscientious – which refers to, among other things, being punctual, orderly, detail oriented, and organized – performed their job better. This finding is particularly strong because, in terms of methodology, it was found through a process known as a meta-analysis in which the results of many studies – 117 in the case of this investigation that yielded a sample size of nearly 24,000 – are combined.
In an attempt to explain what a meta-analysis is through the use of an analogy, imagine that you’re trying to decide if you should see Breaking Dawn, the last movie in the Twilight series. If you just ask one friend, he could steer your wrong, but if you ask 10 friends, you should be able to average out their opinions to get a better sense of the quality of the movie. The latter option is akin to a meta-analysis, and through this procedure, the authors found that conscientiousness predicted performance ratings, levels of productivity, training proficiency, salary level, tenure, and turnover. The subjects in these studies were professionals (e.g., engineers, doctors), police, managers, salespeople, and skilled workers (e.g., flight attendants, medical assistants).
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
Your personality in 140 characters or less
Publication: 2011 IEEE International Conference on Privacy, Security, Risk, and Trust, and IEEE International Conference on Social Computing
Article: Our twitter profiles, our selves: Predicting personality with Twitter
Authors: Daniele Quercia, Michal Kosinskii, David Stillwell, & Jon Crowcroft
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin
According to research by Daniele Quercia, Michal Kosinskii, David Stillwell, & Jon Crowcroft, Twitter users who are popular, which is determined by the number of followers that a user has, and users who are considered influential, which is calculated by determining the number of social contacts on Facebook and if a user’s tweets are clicked on, responded to, or retweeted, are both outgoing and unanxious, and populars are also creative, while influentials are also organized and detail oriented.
Further, by knowing how many people a user is following, how many people are following that user, and their listed counts – all of which is public information – a relatively accurate prediction of the user’s personality can be made. In this study, the Big Five personality traits – openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism – measured personality, and in regard to the procedure, the investigators gathered personality data for 335 users and then saw how it related to personality. #QuickPersonalityTest
Quercia, D., Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D., & Crowcroft, J. (2011). Our Twitter Profiles, Our Selves: Predicting Personality with Twitter. In Privacy, Security, Risk and Trust (PASSAT), 2011 IEEE Third International Conference on and 2011 IEEE Third International Conference on Social Computing (SocialCom) (pp. 180–185). IEEE.
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
Could Your Facebook Persona Cost You a Job? (IO Psychology)
Publication: Journal of Applied Social Psychology (MAY 2012)
Article: Social Networking Websites: Personality Ratings, and the Organizational Context: More Than Meets the Eye?
Authors: D. H. Kluemper, P. A. Rosen, and K. W. Mossholder
Reviewed By: Megan Leasher
We are used to companies having candidates take personality tests. Candidates answer a ton of seemingly annoying and repetitive questions about themselves, and poof! They magically and accurately clue companies in to whether or not they will be a strong performer and/or a good fit. (When I say “poof,” please envision the happy leprechaun opening his box of Lucky Charms and witnessing the jubilant rainbow explosion of marshmallows. It will ensure you are in the right frame of mind.) But have you heard of other people taking a personality test, answering the questions based on what they think YOUR personality is like? Holy creepy, Batman. And what if I told you the “other people” were complete strangers answering those questions about YOUR personality based on what they saw on YOUR Facebook page? Holy switcheroo, Batman!
We all make judgments of others based on what they post on their Facebook page. For example, if you post a picture of yourself doing the “I’m the king of the world” pose on a cruise ship, I will deem you an idiot. If you update your status with random movie quotes from Best in Show, I will proclaim your brilliance. This study took those judgments and morphed them into a scientific evaluation of a candidate’s personality.
Trained evaluators viewed an individual’s Facebook page then completed a personality test, answering the questions about the individual, utilizing only their impressions from seeing the Facebook page. The individuals themselves also took the same personality test answering the questions about their own personality. In addition, the researchers obtained on-the-job performance ratings from the individuals’ supervisors. Can strangers accurately rate your personality based on your Facebook persona? If so, do those perceptions of your personality statistically predict job performance?
The answer to the first question is yes. Sorta. Evaluators’ perceptions of individuals’ personalities based on their Facebook pages had some overlap with how individuals rated their own personalities, but they certainly didn’t agree 100%. So they had some similar impressions and some unique impressions, as well. To answer the second question, the study found that evaluator-rated personality was a slightly stronger predictor of job performance than an individual’s self-reported personality. But the difference wasn’t that large in a practical sense. I have to wonder, if evaluator ratings of a candidate’s personality don’t predict job performance much more than a candidate completing a personality test about themselves, why add all of those work hours to the organization? The time it takes a candidate to complete a personality test does not generally cost an organization anything.
But is a stranger rating a candidate’s personality from a Facebook page even the right thing to do? I feel like you are taking away a bit of the candidate’s say in the matter. Sure, they have full control over what they put on their Facebook page, but that’s certainly not the end-all-be-all of a person. (Note: If it is, don’t hire them.) Where is the candidate’s ability to speak up in all of this? If Facebook does all of the “talking” early on in the screening process, will the candidate ever get a chance to speak for themselves in an interview? Just playing devil’s advocate here, as I see both sides to this argument. And what about candidates who have their Facebook privacy settings up high and a random outsider can’t see it? Or don’t use Facebook? What might that mean about their personalities? Are they the savviest of all?
This study, despite its limitations, is hopefully one of many to come on this sexy and timely topic. But there are tons of caveats to consider, including potential adverse impact, ever-changing Facebook privacy settings, and how to implement consistent processes when social networking is involved…Many unknowns. Holy puzzlers, Batman.
Kluemper, D. H., Rosen, P. A., & Mossholder, K. W. (2012). Social Networking Websites, Personality Ratings, and the Organizational Context: More Than Meets the Eye? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42, 1143-1172. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00881.x
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
source for picture: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Dancing_g399-People_Dancing_In_Disco_Night_Club_p54133.html