Too Much of a Good Thing: Curvilinear Relationships between Personality Traits and Job Performance

Journal of Applied Psychology, 2011, Vol. 96, No. 1, 113–133

21 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2014

See all articles by Huy Le

Huy Le

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

In‐Sue Oh

Temple University - Department of Human Resource Management

Steve Robbins

ACT Inc. - Research Division

Remus Ilies

Michigan State University - Department of Management

Ed Holland

Independent

Paul Westrick

ACT Inc.

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

The relationships between personality traits and performance are often assumed to be linear. This assumption has been challenged conceptually and empirically, but results to date have been inconclusive. In the current study, we took a theory-driven approach in systematically addressing this issue. Results based on two different samples generally supported our expectations of the curvilinear relationships between personality traits, including Conscientiousness and Emotional Stability, and job performance dimensions, including task performance, organizational citizenship behavior, and counterproductive work behaviors. We also hypothesized and found that job complexity moderated the curvilinear personality-performance relationships such that the inflection points after which the relationships disappear were lower for low-complexity jobs than they were for high-complexity jobs. This finding suggests that high levels of the two personality traits examined are more beneficial for performance in high- than low-complexity jobs. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for the use of personality in personnel selection.

Keywords: personality, curvilinear relationship, performance, selection, faking

Suggested Citation

Le, Huy and Oh, In-Sue and Robbins, Steve and Ilies, Remus and Holland, Ed and Westrick, Paul, Too Much of a Good Thing: Curvilinear Relationships between Personality Traits and Job Performance (2010). Journal of Applied Psychology, 2011, Vol. 96, No. 1, 113–133. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2401092

Huy Le (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

4505 S. Maryland Parkway
Las Vegas, NV 89154
United States

In-Sue Oh

Temple University - Department of Human Resource Management ( email )

1801 Liacouras Walk
Alter Hall 343
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.fox.temple.edu/mcm_people/in-sue-oh/

Steve Robbins

ACT Inc. - Research Division ( email )

500 ACT Drive
Iowa City, IA 52243
United States

Remus Ilies

Michigan State University - Department of Management ( email )

North Business Complex
East Lansing, MI 48824-1122
United States

Ed Holland

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Paul Westrick

ACT Inc. ( email )

500 ACT Drive
Iowa City, IA 52243
United States

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