Personality at Work: The Role of Individual Differences in the Workplace

Personality at Work: The Role of Individual Differences in the Workplace

Personality at Work: The Role of Individual Differences in the Workplace

Personality at Work: The Role of Individual Differences in the Workplace

Synopsis

Personality at Work examines the increasingly controversial role of individual differences in predicting and determining behaviour at work. It asks whether psychological tests measuring personality traits can predict behaviour at work, such as job satisfaction, productivity, as well as absenteeism and turnover. Importantly, it is a critical and comprehensive review of that literature from psychology, sociology and management science which lies at the interface of personality theory, occupational psychology and organizational behaviour.Drawing on a vast body of published material, Adrian Furnham describes for the first time current state of knowledge in this area. The result is a volume which will be an enormously useful resource to the researcher and practitioner, as well as students of psychology, management science and sociology. Personality at Work is the only exhaustive and incisive multi-disciplinary work to assess the role of psychological testing in the management of the work place.

Excerpt

My primary interest in the topic of this book arose from two quite different experiences: the one ‘applied’, the other ‘academic’.

My applied experience was the result of being called in as a consultant to a number of organizations interested in applying psychological principles and research findings to such things as recruitment, training and selection. It is not always easy for an academic to be faced by the questions of ‘real-world professionals’, who require, it seems, certain, succinct and immediate answers to complicated questions. Academics are trained to be cautious; their theories and findings are filled with caveats and warnings about over-generalization and over-simplification. The words ‘towards’, ‘perhaps’ and ‘notwithstanding’ pepper their writings, and the gestation period for theories, experiments and reports is fairly lengthy. They are primarily interested in getting the theory right; in replicating results; in designing and executing elegant experiments to disprove (or provide evidence for) hypotheses; and attempt to expound strong, powerful yet parsimonious theories.

Despite its undoubted progress this century, academic psychology is no match for the ‘hard’, ‘pure’ sciences like physics or even the applied discipline of medicine. Whatever the reason for this comparative lack of progress (and very many have been advanced), academic psychologists are therefore cautious and conservative about psychological findings and knowledge. Some laws, models and theories exist, but are highly specific. Other well-known, replicated (and occasionally counter-intuitive) findings have trickled down into ‘common sense’ and hence seem less interesting. But there are numerous grand, even imperialistic, theories in psychology that purport to give an accurate, complete, veridical (and radical) insight into the whole working of the human psyche. Like other grand theories (e.g. communism or catholicism), there are psychological theories that can ‘explain’ practically everything. Unfortunately, it is these grand theories which often invoke difficult and ambiguous concepts like the unconscious

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