in new ideas and experiences. Conscientiousness reflects a subtle, but essential syndrome. Effective personnel are risk takers who like excitement; nevertheless, they are cautious, careful, attentive to detail, and not impulsive. Emotional stability is important not because it entails psychopathology at the extremes, but because, under stress, maladaptive or inflexible behavior (personality disorders) can emerge and can result in disastrous job performance. Many of the critical incidents cited by Dunnette et al. ( 1981) concern employees with personality disorders.
So much for the academic view of personnel selection for hazardous work. What is the advice from the field? Consider the following New York Times report from Kuwait City, October 15, 1992 on the "sappers" responsible for deactivating land mines and munitions left behind by retreating Iraqi troops: About a third of the 100,000 or so tons of munitions dropped by the allies over Kuwait never exploded, either because they were duds or were swallowed by the sand. When sappers try to deactivate some of these devices, like the V-69 antipersonnel mine, a spike cone that shoots out trip wires and jumps to waist level before exploding, they have to get down on their stomachs and delicately maneuver a pin into the works. The men, who earn about $90,000 a year, say the best attributes for the work are cool nerves and a nimble step. ( Hedges, 1992, p. A4)
We wish to thank Mary Ellen O'Connor and Darryl Stark for their helpful comments on various parts of the manuscript.
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