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15FQ+ Personality Test has Working Edge in Predicting Performance in Chinese Workers

Aug 17, 2007
Local is not always better when it comes to using personality tests to hire or upskill workers in Asia, particularly China.

Personality tests are used mostly by those responsible for employee hiring decisions to predict the work performance and character of potential staff.

The use of these tests has steadily grown over the years with research evidence suggesting that they are more reliable than many other common forms of employee assessment.

Despite the growth in the use of personality tests as indicators of work performance, some Chinese researchers have criticized Western-developed personality tests used in China and throughout Asia.

They are concerned that Western-developed tests may have "blind-spots" in their assessment and thereby ignore potentially important cultural differences such as face, family-orientation and harmony.

However, research by award-winning organizational psychologist Dr. Graham Tyler has shown that translated tests from the West (such as Britain and the United States) can be more reliable and accurate than tests that have been developed by local publishers based on local theories of personality.

"Western-developed tests such as the 15FQ+ predicted performance, but, the CPAI, a Chinese test developed in Hong Kong did not", Dr. Tyler said. He continued:

"Local researchers claimed a blind-spot in Western tests that would threaten their validity in China and other parts of Asia. Even if that blind-spot exists, our research indicates that a lot of work needs to be carried out to make locally-developed tests more reliable and valid in the local context."

Dr. Tyler is Executive Director of PsyAsia International, a psychological testing and human resource training consultancy with offices in Hong Kong and Singapore. He also teaches MSc HRM at a Hong Kong university.

He said his research showed that country-specific personality tests may have no advantage, provided the wording and cultural concepts were accurately translated in Western-developed tests that are based on a well researched and validated model.

The 15FQ+ personality questionnaire used in his study was developed on the basis of Raymond Cattell's renowned and empirically supported model of personality. The questionnaire assesses 15 of Cattell's original 16 aspects of personality.

In addition, it assesses a further 5 major personality factors which have enjoyed cross-cultural validation within a model known as the "Big-5" or "Five-factor Model".

One of the major problems with the locally-developed test was that it was, on the whole, not a very reliable measure.

This means that it lacked consistency of measurement. If users cannot be confident that measurement will be consistent, they also cannot be certain that the test measures what it purports to measure (i.e., important Chinese personality traits).

So, whist statistical analyses showed that the 15FQ+ scales predicted aspects of participant's performance such as customer service and time management ability, the CPAI did not do so.

The research involved 1040 individuals throughout Asia and Australia, working in nine organizations including a private hospital, an international airline, a shipping company, a security firm and luxury hotel.

They were administered the 15FQ+ and the CPAI and consented to providing their performance appraisal data from the current and previous years.

Additionally, pre-existing data from thousands of test respondents in Australia, New Zealand and the UK was analyzed.

Dr. Tyler said that this research has implications not only in Asia, but throughout the world given the large numbers of Asians (particularly Chinese) who have and who are continuing to emigrate all over the world.

The research was funded by an international scholarship award from the University of Queensland, Australia and supported by Dr. Peter Newcombe at the University of Queensland and Prof. Paul Barrett at the University of Auckland. PsyAsia International provided travel and subsistence expenses.
About the Author
Dr. Graham Tyler is an award-winning registered organizational psychologist and executive director of PsyAsia International, an HR training, consulting and assessment organization with offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, and clients globally.
Visit PsyAsia at http://www.psyasia.com and http://www.psychometricassessment.com.
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