Metatraits: Enhancing Criterion-Related Validity Through the Assessment of Traitedness1


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    The authors thank Neal Schmitt for his helpful comments on a previous version of this paper. A version of this paper was presented at the 14th annual conference of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Atlanta, Georgia, April 1999.

concerning this article should be addressed to Stephen Dwight, who is now at Bristol-Myers Squibb, 777 Scudders Mill Road Plainsboro, NJ 08536. E-mail:


With the growing use of personality tests as predictors of job performance, the reliable measurement of these personality variables has become important to selection researchers and practitioners. Metatrait researchers have examined the possibility that personality traits are not equally relevant for all people. This study sought to examine whether considering the relevance of a trait to an individual (i.e., traitedness) would enhance the predictive validity of a measure. Specifically, traitedness was expected to moderate the relationship between predictor and criterion scores such that the predictor-criterion relationship would be stronger for traited than for untraited individuals. Consistent with this hypothesis, a strong moderating effect was found for traitedness between a measure of personality and an objective criterion. Contrary to what was predicted, traitedness only provided incremental validity, above personality, for supervisor ratings of job performance.