Self-Monitoring at Work: A Motive-Based Perspective


  • We thank Art Bedeian, Chris Leone, William Ickes, and Renee Holloway for their valuable insights and comments on previous drafts of this article.

  • David V. Day, Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University; Deidra J. Schleicher, Krannert Graduate School of Management, Purdue University.

concerning this article should be addressed to David V. Day, Department of Psychology, 124 Bruce V. Moore Building, University Park, PA 16802. E-mail:


ABSTRACT It is argued that the recent study of personality in industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology is characterized by two limitations: (a) almost complete reliance on the Big Five to the exclusion of other personality variables (most notably, self-monitoring) and (b) insufficient theoretical attention paid to the criteria in work-related personality research. In an attempt to overcome both of these limitations, we review theoretical and empirical evidence for the relevance of self-monitoring in organizational life, with particular attention paid to the criteria grounded in socioanalytic theory of getting along, getting ahead, and making sense. Extant research indicates that high self-monitors are particularly good at getting along (e.g., meeting others' social expectations) and getting ahead (e.g., job performance and leadership emergence), but the evidence is more mixed with regard to making sense. We conclude with a discussion of practical concerns in considering the use of self-monitoring for managerial selection and a research agenda for the future to further elaborate a theory of self-monitoring at work.