Poster TITLE Dancers, Not Statues: Reframing Our Concept of Personality in Selection ABSTRACT The poster introduces reversal theory, a new model of personality, emotion and motivation, and attempts to resolve inconsistent research findings regarding the use of personality tests in selection. In this structural-phenomenological approach, personality is defined in terms of everchanging states of mind, not fixed traits. Implications for selection are discussed. PRESS PARAGRAPH Because of the ease of implementation and growing acceptance of personality tests, the use of these tests has become a popular way for organizations to screen employees while minimizing adverse impact. However, there are difficulties in using personality tests in selection that can result in unwanted outcomes for organizations. The purpose of this paper is to propose a solution to these problems by re-conceptualizing how personality is operationally defined and measured. This model embraces the changeability and inconsistency of human nature, and defines personality in terms of states of mind, rather than fixed traits. Implications for selection are discussed. In previous years, job advertisements could be seen by a community of people through newspapers advertisements, window signs, and through word of mouth. Organizations selected potential employees from a small pool of applicants; however with advances in technology and the development of the World Wide Web, applicants can now be from anywhere around the world. It is important now more than ever that organizations develop efficient selection tools and processes to ensure the right employees are selected for the right job. Technological advances have also made it easier for resource sharing within industries, decreasing resources as a source of competitive advantage and establishing human capital as the principal source of competitive advantage (Grant, 1991). Selecting the right employees saves the organization a substantial amount of money, and organizations are in need of tools that are efficient and fair. Because of the ease of implementation and growing acceptance, personality tests appear to be an increasingly popular way for organizations to screen employees. However, there are several issues with the use of personality tests in selection. The purpose of this paper is to re-conceptualize the way we operationally define personality, the way we measure personality, and the use of personality assessments in personnel selection. Personality Tests in Selection Meta-analyses in the 1990s on the personality-job performance relationship sent the use of personality tests soaring into record high rates (e.g. Barrick & Mount, 1991). Surveys in 2009 revealed that personality assessment was an over $500 million market with over 2500 personality test available for purchase. In 2011, the market was worth $2 billion and up 15% from the previous year. Rothstein and Goffin (2006) reviewed the literature on personality tests as selection tools and discovered that most of the personality tests revolve around the five-factor model. However, research on these factors reveals different results for different jobs, different task, different groups, and different situational factors. Research is inconsistent in this topic area, and two major concerns can be seen throughout research: the validity of personality test and the ability of testers to fake information (Morgeson, Campion, Dipboye, Hollenbeck, Murphy, & Schmitt, 2007) About 20% to 50% of applicants fake information on personality measures (Hough & Oswald, 2000; McFarland & Ryan, 2006; Griffith & Converse, 2011; Arthur, Glaze, Villado, & Taylor, 2010; Griffith, Chmielowski, & Yoshita, 2007) and leave the employer misinformed. This can be detrimental to the organization, and Ellingson, Sackett, and Hough (1999) found that statistical methods such as correction for social desirability are ineffective and fail to produce a score that is equivalent to an honest score. Researchers have concluded that it is nearly impossible to eliminate the effects of applicant faking. Several researchers, however, have concluded that faking is "valid and interpretable variance” (Hogan, 1991; Bourdeau & Lock, 2005; Ellingson, 2001). When people are applying for a job, they may be focused on the future and determined; this may be reflective in how they rate themselves at that time. They may rate themselves as a very serious person when in most circumstances they are not. They may genuinely, at that moment, believe they are a certain way and then behave totally different on the job. The observed validity coefficients of personality test (Morgeson et al., 2007) are more important in election context and are consistently low over time (Morgeson et al., 2007). For example, the highest personality predictor of performance is conscientious and reported validity coefficients have only ranged from .13 in 1991 to .10 in 1997 to .15 in 2000 (Barrick & Mount, 1991; Salgado, 1997; Hurtz & Donovan, 2000). Bing, Whanger, Davison, and VanHook (2004) found, however, that adding situational aspects to personality items increased the validity coefficients. The termed this phenomena the frame of reference effects and urge researchers and practitioners to conceptualize and measure personality using situational and context specific terms. Individuals may behave a certain way in one situation and in a very different way in another different situation We suggest the issue lies in how we conceptualize personality. Can some of the observed variance in personality measures heretofore characterized as error variance be meaningful variation? Individuals may sincerely feel one way at one point in time and sincerely feel another way later. If personality is viewed as a state-based construct rather than exclusively in trait terms, ‘error variance’ may be more precisely parsed by looking at the meaning of within-person variance (i.e., as change in state). State versus Trait Debate Lewin (1943) suggested that behavior is a function of the person and the environment. Because the environment is changing, individuals’ behavior will change as well. However, researchers have suggested that behavior and personality are relatively consistent (McCrae & Costa, 1987). This debate has persisted in the organizational research. Mischel (1984) found that mall alterations in an experimental situation lead to large mean differences in behavior. Wright and Mischel (1987) developed the theory of conditional dispositions that suggests the manifestation of personality traits (i.e., dispositions) is conditional upon the situation. Davis-Blake and Pfeffer (1989) was one of the first blatant attacks on the dispositional approach. They argued that dispositions are a mirage and that the only significant determinants of employee behavior are situational in nature. However, Funder and Harris (1986) conducted a meta-analysis and found that an individual’s behavior in one situation was related to the individual’s behavior in another situation (r = .40). Funder (2001) declared the person-situation or state-trait debate as over with the trait perspective triumphing, but research on states and the importance of the situation has continued to persist. Lievens et al. (2006) developed the trait-activation theory that argues certain traits are activated by particular situational cues and that these traits are less likely to have an effect when these cues are not present. Kuppens et al. (2007) coined the term affect spin, which is an assessment of movement from affective state to another affective state. They suggest that the “sense of spin,” or the experience of transition and variability between affective states is meaningful to employees and therefore to organizational research as well. Affective events theory suggests that job satisfaction is a composed of a pattern of states and the variation in satisfaction is not error but an essential characteristic of human behavior (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996). Variation and contextual factors are increasingly being recognized in the literature and thus it is important to recognize them in practice as well. The use of personality tests in selection ignores this variance, and we suggest changing the way we conceptualize and measure personality. Reversal Theory Approach to Personality Our hypothesis is that at least some of the observed inconsistency in personality research findings is due to the inconsistent nature of human beings. Employees may feel playful one moment and be serious in they next, and they may be competitive and controlling one day and sympathetic and helpful the next. Using personality trait selection tools neglects to measure the dynamisms of human beings. For example, research shows that people high in conscientiousness perform better than those low in conscientiousness (Barrick & Mount, 1991). However, an individual high in conscientiousness may be in a playful mood and neglect work duties. To explain this variance, we propose adopting a model of personality, motivation and emotion known as reversal theory (RT) (Smith & Apter, 1975). RT has been around since the mid70s and it comes from the United Kingdom. Most of the work using the theory has been done in the areas of sports, smoking, and eating disorders. There are approximately 16 books, more than 400 articles, and an American Psychological Association published book on the theory (see reversaltheory.org for a bibliography). Reversal theory posits a model of personality in which people are inherently inconsistent (Apter, 2003; Apter, 2007). The theory goes against the norm of labeling individuals as specific “types”, or as having only fixed personality traits. Similar to the way affective events theory describes job satisfaction, reversal theory postulates that a person's personality is best conceptualized as the pattern of transient states they experience. When an individual’s state of mind changes, this changes the way s/he perceives what is happening. State of mind is how one experiences the world at the moment; it may be thought of as a lens that colors motivation, emotion, attention, and interpretation. This is why the same person can act differently in the same situation depending on their state; an individual may behave introverted in one point in time and extroverted in the other depending on the context of the situation. This is why adding a frame of reference to personality tests items increases the validity coefficient of the test (Reddock, Biderman, & Nyguyen, 2010). Detailed descriptions of the theory are available in Apter’s body of work (2001; 2007), and we provide a brief summary of the theory here. Reversal theory suggests that people reverse between four pairs of opposite states. Each pair is termed a domain, and each domain deals with what a person wants at a particular moment. The four domains are means/ends, rules, transactional, and orientation. The means/ends domain consists of the telic and paratelic states, and the contrast in this domain is whether the individual is focused on the end result or enjoying the process. The rules domain consists of the conformist and negativistic states, and the contrast in this domain is whether or not an individual is trying to fit or trying to stand out. The transactional domain consists of the mastery and sympathy states, and the contrast is whether the individual’s interactions are characterized by control or affection. The last domain is the orientation domain, and the contrast in this domain is between a focus on the self versus others. These are the autic and alloic states, respectively. The transactional and orientation domains are often combined such that individuals are in the self-mastery, self-sympathy, other-mastery, or other sympathy state. Individuals may want to control the situation for themselves, want to feel love or care, what others to control the situation, or want to love or care for others, respectively. RT states are polarized, and thus an individual is in one of the states in each domain at all times. Different people reverse from state to state at different times and this is referred to as lability. Lability has been shown to be related to affect at work, which can lead to important outcomes in the workplace (Brief & Weiss, 2002). For example, Murphy and Desselles (2011) conducted a study in which participants took state measures five times per day for two consecutive days. The results revealed that not only were people changing throughout the day, but also there were significant correlations with changeability and negative and positive affect. The more people changed, the more positive affect they reported and the less people changed the more negative affect they reported. Conclusion Researchers should consider re-conceptualizing the way we operationally define and measure personality and the use of personality assessments in personnel selection. Assessing personality as a pattern of states adds a piece of the puzzle or a part of the story that is important yet neglected when personality is assessed as a trait. People change based on the context of situations and without acknowledging this variance when selecting applicants, organizations label employees before they even enter the organizations. When an employee deviates from that label, organizations may feel mislead and an employee may feel they are not behaving according to organizational norms. These deviations, however, are innate and should be considered just as important to the organization. Reversal theory provides a framework for analyzing these deviations that can be useful to organizations. 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