David DeGeest 06J:278 Staffing April 13, 2010 SJTs: Avoiding a Grand Failure
Why are people so interested? The Big Picture of SJT lit
The claims about SJTs “They seem to represent psychometric alchemy” (Landy, 2007). Adverse impact is down, validity up Assessees like them Seem to address relevant KSAOs They assess soft skills and tacit knowledge They provide incremental validity above GMA and personality for predicting college GPA (Oswald et al., 2004) Some SJTs have demonstrated criterion-related validities as high as r=.36 (Pereira and Harve, 1999) They measure tacit knowledge and “non-academic intelligence” (Sternberg et al., 1995)
What is an SJT? Situational Judgment Tests (SJTs) or Inventories (SJIs) are psychological tests which offer respondents realistic, hypothetical scenarios and ask for an appropriate response. SJTs are often-identified as a type of low-fidelity situation (Motowildo, 1990). SJTs can be designed to be predictive of job performance, managerial ability, integrity, personality, and apparently other measures or constructs.
Example of an SJT item from Becker (2005) 11. You’re retiring from a successful business that you started, and must now decide who will replace you. Two of your children want the position and would probably do a fine job. However, three non-family employees are more qualified. Who would you most likely put in charge? A. The best performing non-family member, because the most qualified person deserves the job. B. The lowest performing non-family member, because this won’t hurt your children’s feelings. C. The highest performing child, because you have the right to do what is best for your kids. D. The child you love the most, as long as he or she is able to do the job.
History of SJTs First recorded SJT: George Washington University Social Intelligence Test (1926) Some usage during WWII by military psychologists (1990): Motowildo’s research resurrected interest in SJTs Idea of the “low fidelity simulation” Commonly used now in industry as “customized” tool for organizations, consultants, etc. Takeaway: There is a lot of perceived promise and sunk cost in SJT research.
What the heck is an SJT? Construct Validity and the Development of SJTs
Item Characteristics McDaniel et al (2005) claims that SJTs have eight differentiating characteristics: Test fidelity Stem length Stem complexity Stem comprehensibility Nested stems Nature of responses Response instructions Degree of item heterogeneity No proscribed standards to develop an SJT
Item Characteristics Examples of response options: What is the best answer? What would you most likely do? Rate each response for effectiveness Rate each response on likelihood you would engage in behavior Knowledge v. Behavioral Tendency Dichotomization Issue
Item Characteristics and Construct Validity Construct Heterogeneity Most items tend to correlate with GMA, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, or Emotional Stability (McDaniel, 2005) Ployhart and Erhart (2003) notes that multiple constructs measured with SJTs makes it hard to measure differences across studies Takeaway: SJTs are best described as a method, not a construct (Schmitt & Chan, 2006)
Exciting finds from research on SJTs The promise of SJTs
Generalizability McDaniel et al. (2007) meta-analytically demonstrated SJTs have incremental validity of .03 to .05 over GMA .06 to .07 over Big Five .01 to .02 over GMA/Big Five composite McDaniel et al. (2001) showed that SJTs are generalizable as predictors of job performance 90% CV did not contain zero in the meta Potosky et al. (2004) showed that a .84 score-equivalence correlation between an SJT administered via paper-and-pencil and the Internet No effects based on beliefs in computer efficacy Takeaway: multiple metas have demonstrated the generalizability of SJTs in predicting job performance.
Variability in SJTs Lievens and Sackett (2006) showed that video-based SJTs for interpersonal skills have more validity than written SJTs. McDaniel et al. (2007) showed that reliabilities for SJTs can range from .63 to .88 The meta refers to alpha, but other reliability measures matter Takeaway: Effects of variations in level of fidelity offer interesting possibilities for research.
Assessment Reactions and Face Validity Chan & Schmitt (1997) showed that B-W differences in test performance and face validity reactions were lower for video-based SJTs than pencil-and-paper tests Race X Method interaction attributable to reading comprehension differences in subgroups Increasing fidelity increased mean performance on SJT Chan (1997) showed that paper-and-pencil SJTs are more consistent with beliefs, values, and expectations of whites. Moving to video-based SJT increased validity perceptions for both whites and blacks Bauer and Truxillo (2006) asserts that SJTs always have better face validity than do cognitive and personality measures. Takeaways: SJTs are useful in terms of face validity and justice perceptions, particularly high-fidelity (video) simulations.
“If subgroup differences on a test exist, policies that permit retests by candidates who were unsuccessful on the test might inflate calculations of adverse impact.” (Lievens et al., 2005, p. 1005)
Takeaway: If the degree of fakibility of an SJT depends on its GMA load, SJTs might just be contaminated g tests or low-reliability job knowledge tests.
Faking Nguyen et al. (2005) found that d=.34 for honest instructions and d=.15 for faking Ployhart and Erhart (2003) also note that behavioral response instructions are both more prone to faking and have problematic more reliability issues Hooper et al. (2006) notes that the fragmentation of the literature has made a meta-analytic study of this issue impossible.
Response Instructions Ployhart and Erhart (2003) found that response instructions had dramatic effects on validity, reliability, and performance for SJTs Showed that dimensionality of an SJT is crucial to determining the reliability estimate to use. McDaniel et al. (2007) found meaningful differences between means for tests with different behavioral and knowledge instructions. Lievens and Sackett (2009) found no meaningful differences between means in a high-stakes testing environment with med school applicants. Last two studies found that knowledge instructions for an SJT increased the scores’ correlation with a GMA measure Takeaway: meta-analytic integration of these results is needed, but the primary research has yet to support this.
What is the reliability for an SJT? Bess (2001) points out the elephant in the room: “SJTs by definition are multidimensional and therefore internal consistency is not an appropriate measure of reliability” (p.29) Schmitt and Chan (1997) also notes this problem. Examples of reliability estimates: Ployhart and Erhart (2003) Used split-half estimates to get .67 and .68 reliabilities. Lievens and Sackett (2009) found low alphas for their SJT (.55-.56) Lievens and Sackett (2007) noted generating alternate forms is difficult for SJTs, given the contextual specificity of items. This means parallel forms reliability is a non-practical measure. Takeaway: no one is quite sure how to systematically assess reliabilities for SJT measures
Things we know fairly clearly SJTs are primarily a method, not a construct. SJTs have demonstrated generalizable meta-analytic incremental validity over GMA and Big 5 single and composite measures in predicting job performance Most SJTs are correlated with GMA to a varying extent and share some benefits and disadvantages with GMA SJTs often correlate with the Big 3
McDaniel et al. (2006) integrated model for SJT
Where do researchers go from here? Practitioners? Future Directions for SJTs
Ployhart & Weekly (2006) Agenda for Research Construct Validity Correlates are known, but nomological net uncertain SJTs targeted to constructs: the “holy grail” (p.348) What exactly is “judgment?” Understanding SJT structure How do we build SJTs to get construct homogeneity? How do we enhance the reliability of these measures? More Experimentation/Micro Research Correlation studies and metas show generalizability Experimental studies can enhance understanding
Ployhart & Weekly (2006) Agenda for Research Need for Theoretical Development Will help to integrate SJTs in mainline I/O research Theory of situation perception and judgment research The limits of SJTs Little is known about applicant conditions for SJTs Generalizability in international contexts? Expansion of org context for SJTs Possibility of use in training and development contexts (Fritzche et al., 2006) Use in team contexts (Mumford et al., 2006)
Other possibilities Personality and Self-Reports Ployhart and Ryan (2004) proposed integrating personality measures with an SJT to predict customer service orientation Hogan (2005)’s work suggests that it may be possible to build a conscientiousness measure via an SJT that is more resistant to faking than current self-reports. Bledow et Freese (2003)’s work also supports using SJTs to create non-self-report measures of constructs like personal drive or initiative. Teams Mumford et. al (2006)’s work suggests building an SJT that would ably predict a “team player” mentality.
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