• We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Robert C. Gardner in reviewing portions of this manuscript, as well as comments provided by three anonymous reviewers concerning an earlier draft.

  • This research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to R. P. Tett, and by grants from Imperial Oil Limited to D. N. Jackson and to M. Rothstein.

  • An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Calgary, Alberta, June 14,1991.

and requests for reprints should be addressed to Mitchell Rothstein, School of Business Administration, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 3K7.


The purpose of this study was to investigate conflicting findings in previous research on personality and job performance. Meta-analysis was used to (a) assess the overall validity of personality measures as predictors of job performance, (b) investigate the moderating effects of several study characteristics on personality scale validity, and (c) appraise the predictability of job performance as a function of eight distinct categories of personality content, including the “Big Five” personality factors. Based on review of 494 studies, usable results were identified for 97 independent samples (total N= 13,521). Consistent with predictions, studies using confirmatory research strategies produced a corrected mean personality scale validity (.29) that was more than twice as high as that based on studies adopting exploratory strategies (.12). An even higher mean validity (.38) was obtained based on studies using job analysis explicitly in the selection of personality measures. Validities were also found to be higher in longer tenured samples and in published articles versus dissertations. Corrected mean validities for the “Big Five” factors ranged from .16 for Extroversion to .33 for Agreeableness. Weaknesses in the reporting of validation study characteristics are noted, and recommendations for future research in this area are provided. Contrary to conclusions of certain past reviews, the present findings provide some grounds for optimism concerning the use of personality measures in employee selection.