Personality in the Workplace
Module from SIOP
Personality in the Workplace
• Personality includes the unique ways people
think, act, and behave
• Personality tends to be fairly stable over the
lifespan, though it can be influenced by
• Thus, personality is an individual difference
variable that could be viewed as important in
the workplace
Personality Traits in the Workplace
• Trait theories are most relevant to work and
the workplace
– The Big Five, most common
– Research on other traits: negative affectivity,
• How do different personality traits become
important in the workplace?
The Big Five and Job Success
• Conscientiousness
– Shown to be related to success in most jobs
– Also predicts honesty
• Extraversion
– Related to success in sales jobs
– Also related to leadership
• Openness to Experience
– Related to success in training on the job
– And related to success in working overseas
• Agreeableness
• Neuroticism
Other Workplace Issues and
Personality Traits
• Negative Affectivity
– Defined as the tendency to display negative states or
view situations negatively
– Correlated with reports of job satisfaction
(negatively), organizational commitment (negatively),
work stress (positively), work-family conflict
• Trait Curiosity
– Defined as the desire for new information that
influences a person to explore issues and ideas
– Predicts information seeking in new hires and the
tendency to frame new information positively
Class Discussion
• How can employers use the research on personality traits to
help them find employees who will be successful on the job?
• Are there legal implications of using personality testing for
employment decisions?
• What are some examples when you or others acted in a way
that was not consistent with their personality?
– What characteristics of the situation might be responsible for this?
Further Reading
• Barrick, M.R., & Mount, M.K. (1991). The Big Five
personality dimensions and job performance: A metaanalysis. Personnel Psychology, 44, 1-26.
• Barrick, M.R., Mount, M.K., & Judge, T.A. (2001).
Personality and performance at the beginning of the
new millenium: What do we know and where do we go
next? International Journal of Selection and
Assessment, 9, 9-30.
• Harrison, S.H., Sluss, D.M., & Ashforth, B.E. (2011).
Curiosity adapted the cat: The role of trait curiosity in
newcomer adaptation. Journal of Applied Psychology,
96, 211-220.

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