Personality and absenteeism: a meta-analysis of integrity tests



Until recently, research focus has been on a variety of demographic, attitudinal, and organizational variables in predicting and explaining absenteeism. If personality traits predict absenteeism, then it may be possible to use measures of these traits to identify and select job applicants and thereby reduce absenteeism rates. In this research, our goal was to examine whether integrity tests could be used to predict absenteeism. Meta-analysis was applied to studies of the validity of pre-employment integrity tests for predicting voluntary absenteeism. Twenty-eight studies based on a total sample of 13 972 were meta-analysed. The estimated mean predictive validity of personality-based integrity tests was 0.33. This operational validity generalized across various predictor scales, organizations, settings, and jobs (SDρ = 0.00). Overt integrity tests, however, showed much lower predictive validity for absenteeism and greater variability than personality-based tests (ρ = 0.09; SDρ = 0.16). The results indicate that a personnel selection approach to reducing absenteeism in organizations may be a useful strategy, particularly if personality-based integrity tests are utilized. Potential explanations for differences between these results and those found for Big Five measures of personality are offered. Future research investigating models of absenteeism should incorporate the personality constructs assessed by integrity tests. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.