LO! THE STIMULUS SPEAKS: THE INSIDER'S VIEW ON WHYTE AND LATHAM'S “THE FUTILITY OF UTILITY ANALYSIS”
Article first published online: 7 DEC 2006
Volume 50, Issue 3, pages 611–615, September 1997
How to Cite
CRONSHAW, S. F. (1997), LO! THE STIMULUS SPEAKS: THE INSIDER'S VIEW ON WHYTE AND LATHAM'S “THE FUTILITY OF UTILITY ANALYSIS”. Personnel Psychology, 50: 611–615. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1997.tb00706.x
- Issue published online: 7 DEC 2006
- Article first published online: 7 DEC 2006
The Whyte and Latham (1996) study presents results showing that presentation of a positive utility analysis reduced support for implementing a valid selection procedure, even though the merits of utility analysis were described by an “expert.” In this paper, the aforementioned expert responds to the Whyte and Latham study and its conclusions. He contends that their experimental study actually tested a persuasional hypothesis, not the informational one put forward by the authors. In otherwords, the effect of the presentation of utility information as the independent variable, and its advocacy by the expert, was perceived by subjects as an attempt to persuade managers to invest in a personnel intervention rather than as a neutral message intended to inform them of the merits of the intervention. Consequently, Whyte and Latham's conclusions about the “futility of utility analysis” will most likely generalize to a situation where personnel psychologists are trying to sell an intervention such as a selection program to a client, but not necessarily to a situation where the psychologist is perceived to use utility analysis in an arms length relationship to assist in making investment decisions. The Whyte and Latham findings represent a real and substantial effect that has important implications for psychologists using utility analysis, but more research is required to establish the boundary conditions around it.