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Personality and Performance

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

There are several major theoretical approaches to understanding personality development.




There are several major theoretical approaches to understanding personality development. Each approach has varying empirical support within the literature indicating the effect of personality on performance success with much recent research directed toward the interactional approach, which examines situations where personality and situational factors may be equal determinants. If situational and personality are equal determinants of success, how might these factors differ for men and women? Why?


“There are several major theoretical approaches to understanding personality development.”

When speaking of personality psychology and personality development, many will argue that it is highly subjective in nature. Furthermore, putting an exact science on being able to predict, label, and hypothesize can be even more complicated. The importance of the discussion, however, remains of high demand, and it is for that reason why headhunters, HR personnel, and hiring committees often get paid an exorbitant amount of money to be able to identify and peg potential candidates before the organization is willing to make a lasting commitment. These are important pieces of information to be analyzed in the workplace, in university settings, and even in the athletic realm. The Big Five serve as an acceptable standard in being able to analyze and capture personality measures. The primary dimensions that comprise the Big Five are neuroticism, extroversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Existing research shows that these dimensions have remained primarily stable when tested against several cultures, current research even suggests that there may be heritability and a genetic predisposition with these traits as well as discussed in Judge & Higgins (1999).


“The primary dimensions that comprise the Big Five are neuroticism, extroversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.”

Success is categorized very differently depending on which social or cultural circle one is referring to, but in line with the Big Five theory the attributes that are closest related to success include neuroticism, extroversion, and conscientiousness (Judge & Higgins, 1999). The antagonists would argue that there are some highly successful introverts, selfless, and highly focused individuals who do not meet any of these explanations regarding the Big Five.  


This is where scientists, psychologists, and other professionals must lean on factors other than personality to predict success. If situational and personality attributes are hypothetically equal determinants of success, we can then possibly explain why and how these factors may differ for both men and women. Allen et al (2012) cite personality as the psychological attributes that comprises individuals lasting and distinct patterns of behavior, thinking and feeling. I think most would agree that women, in large part, are more nurturing and have a predisposition for caring and inclusiveness than do their male counterparts. With this being said, the way women may react toward a sub-performing teammate in an athletic scenario may be completely different than men. A poor performance by a teammate playing the same position may incite an automatic response in a woman to show compassion, nurturing, and caring for her comrade, whereas a male competitor may see it as an opportunity to usurp and bypass his competition.


References:

Allen, M. S., Frings, D., & Hunter, S. (2012). Personality, coping, and challengeand threat states in athletes. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 10(4), 264-275. doi:10.1080/1612197X.2012.682375


Judge, T. A., Higgins, C. A., Thoresen, C. J., & Barrick, M. R. (1999). The big five personality traits, general mental ability, and career success across the life span. Personnel Psychology, 52(3), 621-652.




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