Friday, April 22, 2011

SIOP 2011 comments: Soldier recruitment

A major project in the US Army involves a new personality test, Tapas. This is a Big Five test with a combination of ipsative and normative formats which should make it less vulnerable to faking, although this has yet to be proven. A very interesting finding was that mental ability, or g, was an important predictor for "can do" criteria, while personality was important for "will do" criteria (around 0.2, probably not corrected for measurement error and restriction of range). The debate on how to weight g and personality must clearly take into account what is to be predicted. It is striking how much more important personality, even constrained to the ineffective Big Five framework, is with regard to "will do" criteria. Just what personailty dimenions are important is a matter of concern. Traditional military psychology, based as it was on WW II experience, said emotional stability, if combat effectriveness was a criterion and studied in real-world applications (war). Current work emphasizes conscientiousness as it is a dominating dimension in civilian and and peacetime applications, and perhaps even peaceful, settings. Will conscientiousness really help in high-stakes and threatening situations?

The Swedish Government has recently decided to create a professional army, where soldiers will get a small but decent salary. (SEK 16 500 per month). So far, the program is hugely popular with some 22 000 applicants for about 2000 openings. This means a selection ratio of 10 % which should make screening testing very feasible and effective. Values, held to be very important and measured in another US Arny project, can be measured by the proxy dimensional of emotional inteligence (EI) (self report).We have a wealth of data showing this. The second Army project uses another new  personality test, GAT, (see earlier blog entry) but it sems to lack a reltionship to Tapas. No such studies were mentioned (and nobody asked). The GOT test is, by the way, kept secret and item formats and content are not disclosed, measring such things a spiritutal value sand justice seems to be a real challenge.

Check out these for the promise of a proxy measure of values:

Engelberg, E., & Sjöberg, L. (2005). Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. In R. D. Roberts & R. Schulze (Eds.), International handbook of emotional intelligence (pp. 289-308). Cambridge MA: Hogrefe.
Click here.

Engelberg, E., & Sjöberg, L. (2006). Money attitudes and emotional intelligence. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 36(8), 2027-2047. Click here.

Engelberg, E., & Sjöberg, L. (2007). Money obsession, social adjustment, and economic risk perception. Journal of Socio-Economics, 36(5), 689-697. Click here.

Alternatively, write an e-mail to get reprints, write to

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