Predicting Job Performance and Athletic Success

Topic(s): job performance, 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.

With a plethora of psychological characteristics that appear to predict job success, how can organizations and sports teams weed through the pretenders and find the ones that are actually valid? Researchers (Stanimirovic & Hanrahan, 2010) conducted a literature review and investigated the validity of psychological variables that predict job performance and athletic success.


They found that general mental ability (GMA), which 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 concept 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, 211-239.