Monday, August 26, 2013

Psychological Testing in the Workplace

Psychological Testing in the Workplace
     In public and private sector jobs, a prospective applicant is screened and assessed by different selection methods. These methods consist of resume review, one or more interviews, and psychological tests. Psychological tests are used to assess characteristics such as knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes, interests, and personality in prospective employees (Spector, 2012). Organizations use psychological tests to select and retain employees. Testing is used to match an individual’s capacities and characteristics to a job within an organization. Validity, reliability, and ethical concerns have been raised concerning testing. 

 Types of Psychological Tests
     Psychological tests are a standardized series of problems or questions assessing an individual’s characteristics (Spector, 2012). Psychological tests are made up of several items which assesses the characteristic of interest. The items are usually quickly completed which allows for several characteristics to be assessed. Psychological tests may be administered in several methods including written, computerized, or performance. 

Personality Tests
     Personality testing is valuable as a pre-employment assessment tool (Goffin & Boyd, 2009). The field of Industrial and Organizational psychology has experienced an increase of interest in using personality assessments. Personality tests are frequently used to study the different aspects of an individual’s behavior in organizations (Spector, 2012). Organizations use personality tests to predict job performance. While there are other methods of pre – employment testing equal to exceeding personality testing, this type of testing is more likely to predict a variance in performance.

Emotional Intelligence Testing
     Emotional intelligence is becoming recognized as being important for a successful professional career. Emotional intelligence is between a personality trait and cognitive behavior (Spector, 2012). Emotional intelligence is associated with several skills required in organizations. These skills include organizational commitment, public speaking, teamwork, and leadership (Nicholls, Wegener, Bay,  & Cook, 2012). Emotional intelligence has several definitions. Emotional intelligence is the ability an individual has to control and recognize emotions in the self and others. Emotional intelligence can also be defined based upon the approach. These differences have led to a difference in assessment methods. The trait approach defines emotional intelligence as a set of characteristics relating to social and emotional well being. Trait approach tests are similar to personality tests and rely on self – report measures. Ability approach defines emotional intelligence as a specific set of cognitive abilities. The ability approach tests use problem – based measures to test emotional intelligence for maximal performance. 

Integrity Tests
     Integrity tests have been found to be effective predictors of counterproductive behaviors (Fine, 2013). These behaviors consist of cheating, sabotage, and theft as well as absence and turnover. There are two types of integrity tests: overt and personality based. Overt tests assess an individual’s opinions toward counterproductive behaviors and prior behaviors. Personality – based tests assess personal character traits related to counterproductive behaviors. 

Differentiation Between Testing for Pre - Employment and Retention
     Psychological tests are used in pre – employment selection processes. However, psychological tests may also be used for existing employees. Organizations can use testing for current employees as developmental exercises or as part of a job performance evaluation. Personality tests are widely used for employee selection, development, and advancement. Emotional intelligence tests are primarily used in employee selection and less often in retention. Integrity tests can be used in employee selection and less commonly as an employee retention practice. Organizations hope that psychological tests help in the selecting of the right employees meaning a higher retention rate (Spector, 2012). When psychological testing is used in employee retention, the organization and employee can identify strengths, weaknesses, and change in performance (Spector, 2012). 

Validity and Reliability Issues of Psychological Testing
     A useful test is reliable and valid. A test is reliable if it works the same each time it is given. A test is valid if it measures what it is meant to measure. Some tests are more reliable than other tests (Spector, 2012). Tests with multiple items are usually more reliable than single item tests. Single item measures can be unreliable if the test taker misreads or misinterprets any item (Spector, 2012).
The main concern with personality testing is faking. When a test – taker fakes on a personality test, he or she deliberately provides inaccurate responses to items. Faking is done in hopes of making oneself look more favorable and be hired. In regards to validity, if all respondents shifted equally there is no effect. However, if some test – takers report honestly and others falsify the answers, then the validity of the test suffers (Costa, 1996). Some research shows that faking answers does not affect the validity of the test.
     Emotional intelligence tests also are subject to faking. The trait approach measures are more likely to be manipulated by the test taker. Emotional intelligence tests use two validity checks. Trait approach models use Inconsistency Index for Validity. There are ten paired questions and the difference between responses for each pair determines consistency. The second validity check is the Positive Impression Scale. This scale is designed to eliminate faking.
Integrity tests are better predictors for absence and job performance than theft. Accurate data on employee theft is more difficult to obtain because many employees are never caught (Spector, 2012). Security prefers overt tests because the nature of items can be corroborated from other sources such as interviews or references. Human resource managers prefer the personality based tests because these tests describe the candidate. The personality based tests are less likely to be faked. 

Ethical Issues of Psychological Testing
     The American Psychological Association has specific standards of conduct (Cates, 1999). Ethical concerns in psychology include competence, integrity, professional and scientific responsibility, respect for people’s rights and dignity, concern for other’s welfare, and social responsibility. Psychologists, including industrial and organizational psychologists must practice within his or her knowledge and respect the privacy of others. More specific ethical concerns are invasion of privacy, inability of organization, confidentiality, and communication of test results (Cates, 1999). Psychological tests should not be biased against culturally disadvantaged groups.

      Psychological testing is a vital component to hiring and retaining employees. Psychological testing reveals a potential employee’s ability to perform in a job as well as characteristics required for the job. Some prospective employees attempt to falsify answers on psychological testing to appear to be the best candidate for the job. Some fear that this practice will invalidate the tests. However, some research shows that this belief is not true. Psychological testing is an efficient method of selecting employees and in some cases, retaining employees.   


Cates, J. (1999). The art of assessment in psychology: ethics, expertise, and validity. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 55(5), 631-641.

Costa, P. T. (1996). Work and personality: Use of the NEO-PI-R in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 45(3), 225-241. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.1996.tb00766.x

Fine, S. (2013). Practical Guidelines for ikplementing preemployment integrity tests. Public Personnel Management, 42(2), 281-292. doi:10.1177/0091026023487049

Goffin, R. D., & Boyd, A. C. (2009). Faking and personality assessment in personnel selection: Advancing models of faking. Candian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 50(3), 151-160. Retrieved from

Nicholls, S., Wegener, M., Bay, D., & Cook, G. (2012). Emotional intelligence tests: Potential impacts on the hiring process for accounting students. Accounting Education, 21(1), 75-95. doi:10.1080/09639284.2011.598709

Spector, P. E. (2012). Industrial and organizational psychology: Research and practice (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Plagiarism: Using someone else's work without giving proper credit, is plagiarism. If you use my work, please reference it.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Job Analysis: Firefighter

Job Analysis
     Job analysis is a method for describing jobs. Job analysis can also describe human attributes required to perform jobs. A job analysis has three key elements. First, the procedure should be systematic. Second, the job is broken down into smaller units, or tasks. Third, a written product is a result of the analysis. The purpose of a job analysis is to be used in career development, performance appraisal, job classification, and job description. There are two types of analysis, the job – oriented job analysis and the person - oriented job analysis. A job – oriented job analysis provides information about the nature of tasks. A person – oriented job analysis describes the characteristics an individual should possess to perform the job. A person – oriented job analysis includes knowledge, skill, ability, and other personal characteristics. Performance appraisals are also a key factor in organizational psychology. While performance appraisals can be biased due to human accuracy, they are equally importance in maintaining a satisfactory working organization. 

Functional Job Analysis: Firefighter
     Firefighters are specialists that use fire safety, prevention, and elimination techniques to complete work – related tasks (Job Descriptions, 2012). Tasks performed by firefighters include operating equipment, controlling and extinguishing fires, providing first response emergency services, and providing public fire safety education. 

     Knowledge that a firefighter should possess include health and safety, operation and maintenance of firefighting equipment, use of tools such as ax, chisel, crowbar, electric saw, and others, vehicle extrication, and first aid. 

     Skills a firefighter should possess are problem solving, speaking and communication, organization, and product inspection (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 2006).

     Abilities a firefighter should possess are physical fitness, calm and efficient attitude, discipline, auditory attention, speech recognition, and oral comprehension. 

Work Activities
     Work activities include use of fire combative procedures and rescue techniques, operating equipment, organizing strategies, vehicle extrication, maintaining and cleaning equipment, providing first response emergency services, providing support during disasters, public fire safety education, and training for fitness. 

Work Context
     This job position provides service to others, works in all conditions and climates, is physically demanding, is emotionally demanding, and requires the use of tools. 

Functional Job Analysis (FJA)
     Functional job analysis (FJA) is a method of job analysis that is used to obtain information necessary for developing job – related performance standards (Olson, Fine, Myers, & Jennings, 1981). Through observations and interviews with experts in the field, a description of the job is created. The functional job analysis provides more explicit terminology for understanding how to accomplish objectives and tasks in an organizational setting. The functional job analysis is begun by examining the purpose and goals of the jobs (Olson, Fine, Myers, & Jennings, 1981). After the overall purpose is established, two types of information are gathered. This information includes what gets done and how it gets done. Functional job analysis focuses on the tasks that comprise a job. These tasks are organized into job assignments in order to accomplish the work. The data used in a functional job analysis is obtained from observing the work being done and by interviewing accomplished subject matter experts. In 1938, the United States Department of Labor created the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). In 1998, the DOT was replaced with the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 2006). O*NET is a computer based resource for job related information and is more extensive than the DOT (Spector, 2012). 

Evaluation of Reliability and Validity of Functional Job Analysis
     The information contained in a functional job analysis is dependent upon the judgment of people who either do or observe others do a job (Spector, 2012). The functional job analysis is viewed as a relatively effective for its purposes. It is believed that people participating in the functional job analysis are more accurate when rating tasks rather than traits. Functional job analysis ratings provide useful information; however, the ratings cannot be viewed as perfect. Functional job analysis ratings are based on human judgment; therefore, can be biased. 

Evaluation of Performance Appraisal Methods
     Organizations spend time and resources to appraise employees. The importance of appraisals to organizations includes many different reasons. These reasons include administrative decisions, employee development and feedback, and to determine the effectiveness of practices and procedures (Spector, 2012). The job performance of individuals can be assessed and categorized by two methods: Objective Performance Measures and Subjective Judgment Measures. 

Objective Performance Measures
     Objective measures include counts of various behaviors or the results of jobs (Spector, 2012). Examples include days absent from work or total sales for the employee. There are five common measures that are objectively measured. These include absences, accidents, incidents, lateness, and productivity. These five categories reflect the performance of the employee. The measures of attendance and lateness may be grouped together in one category. Objective measures are usually kept in organizational files and are easily accessed. 

Subjective Measures of Job Performance
      Subjective measures are more frequently used than objective measures. However, subjective measures are not as easily accessible as objective measures. Where objective measures are commonly kept in organization files, subjective measures are obtained by having supervisors complete performance rating forms on subordinates. The two common types of rating forms are Graphic Rating Forms and Behavior – Focused Rating Forms. The Graphic Rating Form is the most popular type and is used to assess several dimensions of an employee’s performance. Behavior – Focused Rating Forms focus more on behaviors that an employee has done or is expected to do. 

Benefits and Vulnerabilities of Performance Appraisal Methods
     Objective and subjective measures are useful in employee performance appraisals. Objective measures are easier to interpret in relation to the job performance criteria. Objective measures are quantitative in nature and therefore easier to compare between different employees in the same job. Objective measures can be associated directly to organizational objectives and are often found in the records of the organization. Subjective measures reflect the characteristics, traits, and behaviors of an employee in relation to the job. However, performance appraisal methods also have limitations. Objective measures are not appropriate for all jobs. Objective measures are not always obvious as to what quantity is satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Data included in records could be contaminated, inaccurate, or missing. Objective measures tend to focus on specific behaviors and are sometimes deficient as indicators of job performance criteria (Spector, 2012). In fact, objective measures may ignore other criteria that are just as important. Objective measures of productivity reflect quantity rather than quality. Objective measures counted may not be under the control of the employee. An example is a vehicle accident that is not the employee’s fault. The accident is counted in the quantity of accidents but is not a reflection of the employee’s driving performance. 

      Job analysis and performance appraisals are vital to the successful running of an organization. Job analysis is needed to define the jobs performed within the organization and to hire the best individual for the job. Performance appraisals are needed to ensure that the individuals hired are maintaining the expectations of the job. Together, job analysis and performance appraisals are crucial components for a successful organization.   

Dictionary of Occupational Titles. (2006). Firefighter (any industry). Retrieved from

Job Descriptions. (2012). Firefighter Job Description & Career Opportunities. Retrieved from

Olson, H. C., Fine, S. A., Myers, D. C., & Jennings, M. C. (1981). The Use of Functional Job Analysis in Establishing Performance Standards for Heavy Equipment Operators. Personnel Psychology, 34(2), 351-364.

Spector, P. E. (2012). Industrial and Organizational psychology: Research and practice (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Plagiarism: Using someone else's work without giving proper credit, is plagiarism. If you use my work, please reference it.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Industrial/Organizational Psychology
      There are many sub – fields in the science of psychology. One sub – field is Industrial and Organizational Psychology. The field of Industrial and Organizational Psychology has been experiencing a tremendous growth due to the demand of services provided by them (Rogelberg, 2007). Industrial and Organizational psychologists provide numerous services vital to the successful operation of organizations. In this paper, industrial and organizational psychology will be discussed in the terms of evolution, role, and research.

 Evolution of Industrial and Organizational Psychology
     Industrial and Organizational psychology was first started in the late 1800s and early 1900s by experimental psychologists. These psychologists were interested in applying new principles of psychology to problems within organizations (Spector, 2012). The main founders of Industrial and Organizational psychology are considered to be Hugo Munsterberg and Walter Dill Scott. Both of these were experimental psychologists and university professors. Scott focused on the selection of employees, use of psychological tests, and the psychology of advertising; whereas, Munsterberg focused on only the selection of employees and the use of psychological testing. Following Munsterberg and Scott was Frederick Winslow Taylor. Taylor was an engineer who studied methods to improve work production of employees. Taylor’s principles became known as Scientific Management. These principles were used as a guide for organizations. The key points of his management theory focused on four aspects of organizations. These four key points were job analysis, employee selection, employee training, and employee compensation and rewards. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth studied efficient ways of completing tasks (Spector, 2012). Their efforts combined the fields of engineering and psychology. The Gilbreths theorized that work served as a foundation for the field of human factors; thus, their studies demonstrated how to best design technology for individuals. During World War I, Industrial and Organizational psychology was used in the United Kingdom and United States. Robert Yerkes was instrumental in Industrial and Organizational psychology for the military. He developed group tests for mental ability in the army and psychological testing to place individuals in jobs. Many of the concepts developed during the evolution of Individual and Organizational psychology are still considered valuable.

 How Industrial and Organizational Psychology Differs from Other Disciplines
     Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behavior (Rogelberg, 2007). Clinical Psychology is the study and treatment of psychological disorders and problems in individuals. The main focus of Industrial and Organizational Psychology is the work lives of individuals. However, Industrial and Organizational psychologists do not handle the personal or emotional problems of the employees. Industrial and Organizational Psychology is used to develop and apply scientific principles in the work place. The goals of Industrial and Organizational psychology are to better understand and improve the health, well – being, and effectiveness of individuals and organizations. 

Use of Industrial and Organizational Psychology in Organizations
     Industrial and Organizational psychologists perform many different activities in organizations. Individual and Organizational psychologists perform job analysis for organizations. Another job performed by Industrial and Organizational psychologists is training, an important strategy for changing behavior in organizations (Major & Morganson, 2011). Industrial and Organizational psychologists use performance assessments to hold employees accountable for his or her own work behavior. Industrial and Organizational psychologists can also use 360 degree feedback where different sources in the workplace can provide perspectives of an individual’s behavior at work  (Major & Morganson, 2011). By using research, Industrial and Organizational psychologists help organizations in the hiring employees and training employees. Research can also be used to assist Industrial and Organizational psychologists in solving problems within organizations in relation to employees. 

Role of Research and Statistics in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
     Research plays a vital role in Industrial and Organizational psychology and is one of the major activities performed (Spector, 2012). Research is used to develop new methods, practices, and procedures to use within organizations. Research can also be used to solve a specific problem or understand a specific event in the workplace. Industrial and Organizational psychologists use research skills to determine if hiring practices, training, and incentive programs are useful to the organizations. 

     A scientific study begins with a research question to define the purpose of the study. In Industrial and Organizational psychology, the research question pertains to a particular issue within the organization. Research questions can be general or specific; however, general questions are not specific enough to provide the basis for a study (Spector, 2012). Researchers then make a guess as to the results of the study, or a hypothesis. The study is then carried out to receive data used to address the problem. 

      While psychology is the study of the human mind, some experimental psychologists and engineers expanded to create a sub – field that related to the individual or organization in a work environment. Methods of hiring, training, and compensating employees were developed and refined. Research methods were developed and used to explore problems in the work place and methods of improving these problems. The work of these past researchers has developed a sub – field of psychology devoted to the work place and creating successful organizations.

Major, D. A., & Morganson, V. J. (2011). Applying Industrial - Organizational Psychology to Help  Organizations and Individuals Balance Work and Family. Industrial & Organizational Psychology, 4(3), 398-401. doi:10.111/j.1754-9434.2011.01360.x

Rogelberg, S. G. (2007). Introduction. Encyclopedia of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 1(0), xxxv-xxxvii.

Spector, P. E. (2012). Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Research and practice (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Plagiarism: Using someone else's work without giving proper credit, is plagiarism. If you use my work, please reference it.