SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 17: Los Angeles Police Department Detective Michaell Chang, who had … [+]
Does your personality matter for work performance? Do different dimensions of personality matter for some types of occupations compared to others? It turns out that being conscientious and agreeable, for example, matters for occupations in healthcare, according to new research. Psychologists have been conducting research on the power of personality for decades. The Big 5 personality dimensions are conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Recently, two major quantitative syntheses have been published which illustrate clear replicated findings on the associations between personality dimensions and work outcomes.
The first study by Ethan Zell and Tara L. Lesick at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro was published in Journal of Personality and synthesized results from 54 meta-analyses (2,028 studies, total sample of 554,778) and illustrated that though overall conscientiousness had the strongest relation to academic, work, and other performance across the board, the other dimensions also had smaller yet robust relations to performance that were broadly replicated.
The second study by Michael P. Wilmot of the University of Arkansas and Deniz S. Ones of the University of Minnesota add an additional twist to the story. They confirm the importance of personality dimensions to work performance, and also show that work characteristics moderate this personality-performance relationship. Their work published in Journal of Vocational Behavior synthesized results from 15 meta-analyses (539 studies, total sample of 89,639) shows, among other things that conscientiousness matters greatly for all domains of work performance, but that other Big 5 personality dimensions matter somewhat differently for different occupations.
Emotional stability, for example, matters for the military, and agreeableness and conscientiousness had the strongest relationships with healthcare professions. It’s unclear what causes what here, but it shows that personality varies across different types of jobs.
Michael P. Wilmot notes: “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. 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.”