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About the Award: Hogan Award for Personality and Work Performance

Liberty Munson and Garett Howardson

Not only have Joyce and Robert Hogan independently advanced the science and practice of workplace personality, but the Hogan’s joint contributions to the field are, to say the least, quite impressive. As such, the Hogan Personality Award was established in honor of the Hogans’ collective body of work and, more specifically, to recognize research advancing the understanding of personality as it relates to work performance.


Since its inception in 2012, five research teams have earned the honor and distinction of the Hogan Award, the first four of which are briefly described below:

  1. 2012: Brian S. Connelly and Deniz M. Ones for their paper, “An Other Perspective on Personality: Meta-Analytic Integration of Observers’ Accuracy and Predictive Validity,” which was published in Psychological Review. The authors’ paper was no small task in that the meta-analytic study’s data included 263 independent personality studies totaling 44,178 participants. The authors found that, as the title suggests, personality as rated by someone other than the individual in question can, in some instances, be more predictive of work performance and can be particularly accurate for difficult to observe traits such as emotional stability.
  2. 2013: In-Sue Oh, Gang Wang, and Michael K. Mount for their paper, “Validity of Observer Ratings of the Five-Factor Model of Personality Traits: A Meta-Analysis” published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The authors’ work, not unlike that of Connelly and Ones, sought to better understand non-self-reported ratings of personality (i.e., other-rated personality) using meta-analytic data from 16 studies totaling over 1,500 participants. The authors’ findings demonstrated that (a) other-rated personality predicts performance over and above self-rated personality, and (b) a wider breadth of personality traits predict performance than previously thought, when, that is, rated by someone other than the individual in question (i.e., other-rated).
  3. 2014: Bart Wille, Filip De Fruyt, and Barbara De Clercq for their paper entitled, “Expanding and Reconceptualizing Aberrant Personality at Work: Validity of Five-Factor Model Aberrant Personality Tendencies to Predict Career Outcomes.” Using a well-known personality framework—the five-factor model—the authors reconceptualized how distinct traits within that framework might be recombined to create six different aberrant personality tendencies: antisocial, narcissistic, borderline, schizotypal, obsessive-compulsive, and avoidant. Importantly, however, the authors collected data on these tendencies at two points in time, once at the beginning of the participants’ career and then again 15 years into their career. The authors found that the tendencies above were highly stable across time. Further, the findings indicated that, with the exception of obsessive-compulsive, all aberrant personality tendencies predicted career outcomes over and above the more traditional conceptualization and implementation of the five-factor model.
  4. The 2015 winner should be familiar in that the Hogan Personality Award was the team’s second SIOP award, the first being the Jeanneret Award spotlighted in the Summer 2016 issue of TIP (Volume 54, Number 1). Using an unfolding or ideal-point item response theory (IRT) scoring method, the authors examined whether such models better identified curvilinear relationships between personality and work performance. The “too much of a good thing” perspective suggests that, for example, highly conscientious individuals might be too conscientious and too task focused, seeing the trees rather than the forest if you will. The authors found than an ideal point IRT model did indeed improve detecting curvilinear relationships between conscientiousness and work performance. It is worth noting that despite detecting such curvilinearities, the bivariate validities between conscientiousness and performance were roughly the same regardless of the scoring procedure (.09 to .12). What did change, however, was the rank ordering of expected performance at the higher end of the conscientiousness distribution; individuals who would have been identified as top candidates using traditional scoring methods became lower ranked candidates using the ideal point IRT model. These rank changes, although few, proved highly impactful in that some individuals’ ranking dropped enough to be surpassed by an otherwise lower ranked individual, which alters top-down candidate selection procedures. As such, the IRT scoring method ultimately resulted in better selection decisions in that individuals too conscientiousness were given less weight than individuals moderate in conscientiousness.

2016 Hogan Personality Award Winner

For their work entitled, “Reciprocal Relationship Between Proactive Personality and Work Characteristics: A Latent Change Score Approach” published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, we are pleased to spotlight the 2016 Hogan Award Winners Wendong Li, Doris Fay, Michael Frese, Peter Harms, and Xiang Yu Gao. The paper’s first author Wendong was quite gracious giving us his time to better learn about the team’s award winning work described below.


About Dr. Wendong Li

Dr. Li is currently an assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and was previously an assistant professor at Kansas State University. Wendong’s research focuses on proactivity across several areas, including, for example, leadership, work design, and employee well being. Overall, Dr. Li is interested in how people are willing and able to modify their environments, as well as understanding more reactive but effective behaviors for when one’s environment is the modifying force. In other words, Dr. Li is interested in how individuals adapt to environmental changes due to forces beyond the individual’s own actions. Through a variety of perspectives, Dr. Li studies both individual (e.g., personality, genetics) and environmental (e.g., organizational culture) proactivity-promoting characteristics, which, he acknowledges, can have both positive and negative consequences for individuals.


Dr. Li’s research approach has indeed been quite successful producing publications in highly respected journals, such as the Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, and Leadership Quarterly. In addition to the Hogan Personality Award, Dr. Li’s work has earned him several other awards, including the International HRM Scholarly Achievement Award and Best Student Convention Paper Award from the Human Resources Division of the Academy of Management and the Best Paper Award in the Organizational Behavior Division of the Asian Academy of Management. His work has also been featured in several publically facing media outlets, including USA Today and The Washington Post.


About the Award Winning Research

As noted above, Dr. Li and team’s award winning paper studied the reciprocal relationships between a personality trait known as proactive personality and work experiences. Proactive personality, which, Dr. Li notes, is distinct from the traditional Big Five personality traits, is a relatively stable tendency wherein individuals strive to enactively change their environment. After, however, hearing a lyric from a Chinese folk song—“is there anybody that can tell me, is it us that have changed the world, or is it the world that has changed us?” —Dr. Li began wondering if the direction of change between person and environment might also be reversed such that the environment actively changes the individual.


To further explore such ideas, Dr. Li reached out to colleague and coauthor Michael Frese and identified a relevant longitudinal data source from a prior study for which Dr. Frese was the principal investigator. As the Chinese folk song foresaw, more proactive individuals acquire more job demands and more job control, and this acquisition made people even more proactive in the future. This finding reveals a spiraling pattern of individuals proactively changing their work environments and their work environment responding in kind. Dr. Li is quick to note, however, that “in kind” can be a double-edged sword where being proactive often means the environment responds with additional responsibilities that, in turn, force the individual to be even more proactive to fulfill those responsibilities. Continuing unchecked, proactivity may therefore have a “dark side” if such actions ultimately produce a level of job demands exceeding the individual’s capabilities, which speaks to the onus of organizations to also provide adequate levels of additional resources to compensate for the increases in demands.


Interdisciplinary Crossovers

Although I-O psychologists are undoubtedly aware of personality and its role in the workplace, Dr. Li notes that the study of personality is, itself, an entire discipline with great depth. For instance, personality scholars are studying within-person changes or variability in personality, domain specific personality, and personality states. As such, he considers his work described above as an interdisciplinary effort to merge traditional I-O psychology and organizational behavior with contemporary personality research. In particular, Dr. Li notes that much of the organizational behavior field acknowledges a limited range of personality constructs and, most often, views such constructs as relatively fixed. Changing this status quo view of personality in organizational behavior, he notes, is a significant challenge facing researchers, like Dr. Li, who strive to integrate findings across several diverse disciplines. The potential communication difficulties of interdisciplinary work notwithstanding, Dr. Li notes that the diversity accompanying such work is vital for a successful research team. For instance, Dr. Li conducts research on molecular genetics, which is certainly not his area of expertise. Nevertheless, he has assembled a team that does include molecular geneticists, from which he has learned and developed new perspectives for problems in his other work.


Dr. Li’s Advice

In short, let passion and interest guide your research journey. Recognizing the value of publishing in top tier journals, Dr. Li notes that research can be an inherently risky process. In some instances, high quality work may nevertheless be overlook for reasons unrelated to the work itself. Sometimes, that is, the stars align and sometimes they do not. “Thus, the important question,” concludes Dr. Li, “becomes, even if you know it may not get to a top-tier journal, would you still be willing to work on this project? If you really believe this is important work, work on it no matter whether it can hit a so-called top-tier journal. I know this is easier to say, but this is something I realized lately.”


Garett Howardson is the founder and principal work scientist at Tuple Work Science, Limited. Most of his work focuses on quantitative, psychometric, and/or computational issues to better understand the psychology of modern, technical work writ-large (e.g., aerospace technicians, computer programmers). 

Garett is also an avid computer geek. In fact, he has a degree in computer science, which he avidly applies to his research and work in pursuit of one deceivingly simple goal: better integrate I-O psychology and the data/computational sciences to understand work. 

Liberty Munson is currently the principal psychometrician and assessment and exam quality lead at Microsoft. She is responsible for ensuring the validity and reliability of Microsoft’s certification and degree programs. Her passion is for finding innovative solutions to business challenges that balance the science of assessment design and development with the realities of budget, time, and schedule constraints.

Liberty loves to bake, hike, backpack, and camp—basically, if the sun is shining you’ll find her enjoying the great outdoors; if not, she’s in her kitchen tweaking some recipe just to see what happens. She has also been actively involved in editing Microsoft’s Cookbook to raise money for a local charity, FareStart, as part of Microsoft’s Give Campaign. She just got a new mini schnauzer puppy, Apex!

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