Just like Eminem said, “Will the real [psychological predictors] please stand up?”

Topic(s): selection

Topic: Selection
Publication: Sport Science Review (2010)
Article: Psychological predictors of job performance and career success in professional sports
Authors: R. Stanimirovic & S. Hanrahan
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin, M.A.

So, as the savvy employer that you are, you want to assess the personalities of the job applicants? According to the New York Times Best Seller List, there are dozens of different
domains that you can assess with new ones coming in vogue every other month. Just like the goji berry attained a cult-like following within the nutritional world, certain personality characteristics arrest the attention of people interested in predicting performance.

The fan base of these characteristics builds quickly, and it becomes unclear whether the characteristic of interest is actually a valid predictor or if it just the cool kid on campus who people like because their mother’s best friend’s manicurist said it helped her nephew get into Berkeley. With a plethora of psychological characteristics that appear to predict success, how do you weed through the pretenders and find the ones that are actually valid?

Stanimirovic & Hanrahan took on this mammoth task, and they, through a literature
review, investigated the validity of psychological variables that predict job performance
and athletic success. It was found that General Mental Ability (GMA), which has a variety
of definitions and typically refers to a collection of cognitive abilities such as processing
speed and working memory, is the strongest predictor of job performance. Other predictors included conscientiousness, a personality factor that consists of traits such as self-discipline, and emotional intelligence, a construct that includes emotionally related self-perceptions and dispositions. In the realm of the National Football League, GMA, as measured by the Wonderlic Personnel Test, did not relate to performance. Generally, in the domain of athletics, the investigators found that the ability to concentrate, set goals, train, and respond to adversity are psychological tools utilized by successful athletes such as Olympians. Emotional intelligence also demonstrated a relationship with performance across a variety of sports.

Overall, the investigators suggested that psychological assessments performed either
in the business or athletic worlds should include a test of GMA, emotional intelligence, and
supplementary domains such as self-discipline. This breadth of analysis will provide employers, either athletic or otherwise, with the most amount of information about the person in question. If it is assumed that the more information one has, the better the decision will be, a thorough psychological assessment will put the employer in a position to make an informed decision.

Stanimirovic, R. & Hanrahan, S. (2010). Psychological predictors of job performance and career success in professional sports. Sport Science Review 19(1-2), 211-239.

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management


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