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October 30, 2015

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Originally published at DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0141468

Funded in part by the VCU Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

Date of Submission

December 2015


Introduction Sensitivity analyses refer to investigations of the degree to which the results of a meta-analysis remain stable when conditions of the data or the analysis change. To the extent that results remain stable, one can refer to them as robust. Sensitivity analyses are rarely conducted in the organizational science literature. Despite conscientiousness being a valued predictor in employment selection, sensitivity analyses have not been conducted with respect to meta-analytic estimates of the correlation (i.e., validity) between conscientiousness and job performance.

Methods To address this deficiency, we reanalyzed the largest collection of conscientiousness validity data in the personnel selection literature and conducted a variety of sensitivity analyses.

Results Publication bias analyses demonstrated that the validity of conscientiousness is moderately overestimated (by around 30%; a correlation difference of about .06). The misestimation of the validity appears to be due primarily to suppression of small effects sizes in the journal literature. These inflated validity estimates result in an overestimate of the dollar utility of personnel selection by millions of dollars and should be of considerable concern for organizations.

Conclusion The fields of management and applied psychology seldom conduct sensitivity analyses. Through the use of sensitivity analyses, this paper documents that the existing literature overestimates the validity of conscientiousness in the prediction of job performance. Our data show that effect sizes from journal articles are largely responsible for this overestimation.


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