How personality affect one's job performance

DNVN - Researchers combined multiple meta-analyses of the five big personality traits and examined their effect on job performance.

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Can your personality affect your job performance? According to a new study by management and psychology researchers, it depends on the job.

"Although past studies made statements about the effects of personality traits on job performance in general, the specifics of these relationships really depend on the job," said Michael Wilmot, assistant professor of management in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. "More interesting findings exist when we take a deeper look at performance within the different jobs."

How personality affect one's job performance.

How personality affect one's job performance.

Conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and neuroticism are the five major personality traits. Wilmot and Deniz Ones, professors of psychology at the University of Minnesota, combined multiple meta-analyses to examine the impact of these traits on job performance. The process of meta-analysis involves methodically combining numerous independent findings in order to determine an overall effect.

The nine major occupational groups of clerical, customer service, healthcare, law enforcement, management, military, professional, sales, and skilled/semi-skilled were all included in the researchers' index of personality trait relationships. They took into account factors like job complexity and how relevant these personality traits are, according to occupational experts, to the demands of the position.

Wilmot and Ones discovered that the correlations between personality traits and performance varied considerably across the nine major occupational groups. The primary reason for these differences was occupational complexity.

In every job, how well someone did depended on how careful they were. However, its effect was greater in jobs with low and medium cognitive demands and diminished in jobs with high cognitive demands. Extraversion was more prevalent in jobs with moderate cognitive complexity.


Other characteristics exhibited stronger effects when they are more pertinent to particular occupational requirements. For instance, agreeableness predicted better for jobs in healthcare, while extraversion predicted better for jobs in sales and management.

Overall, the findings suggested that jobs with moderate occupational complexity — the "goldilocks range," according to Wilmot — may be optimal for using personality traits to predict job performance.

In addition, the researchers compared the empirical findings to the opinions of occupational experts regarding the relevance of personality traits to job performance. They discovered that the ratings were largely accurate. The two most highly rated traits matched the two most highly predictive traits revealed in the meta-analyses for the vast majority of occupational groups (77 percent).

"These findings should prove useful for scholars pursuing a richer understanding of personality — performance relations and for organizations honing employee talent identification and selection systems," said Wilmot. "They should also benefit individuals trying to choose the right vocation and, really, society at-large, which would reap the collective benefits of better occupational performance."

Journal Reference: Michael P. Wilmot, Deniz S. Ones. Occupational characteristics moderate personality–performance relations in major occupational groups. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 2021; 131: 103655 DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2021.103655


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