Utility and validity of Western and Chinese models and measures of personality in Chinese and Western organisational contexts

Tyler, G. P. (2006). Utility and validity of Western and Chinese models and measures of personality in Chinese and Western organisational contexts PhD Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

Author Tyler, G. P.
Thesis Title Utility and validity of Western and Chinese models and measures of personality in Chinese and Western organisational contexts
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2006-04-21
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Peter Anthony Newcombe
Paul Barrett
Total pages 359
Collection year 2006
Subjects 380104 Personality, Abilities and Assessment
380108 Industrial and Organisational Psychology
Abstract/Summary Many personality tests that have been developed outside of Asia (usually in Western countries such as the USA and UK) have been imported into the region, translated verbatim, and administered with little attention to the cultural differences in concepts and underlying properties. Whilst there has been a necessity to use these tests given few local alternatives, making decisions based on tests alien to the local culture may result in inconsistent decisions that possess no validity. This thesis then addresses crucial issues surrounding the importation of foreign-developed personality assessment instruments and their use in China. Research conducted with the NEO-FFI in Asia has demonstrated (although not without critics: Block, 1995) the cross-cultural applicability of the Five-Factor Model (FFM) (Costa & McCrae, 1985) of personality (McCrae, Costa, del Pilar, Rolland & Parker, 1988; McCrae & Allik, 2022; McCrae & Costa, 1997). However, and although this research may provide support for the model, there is a lack of research that assesses the link between personality and workplace performance in Asia. Recent developments in indigenous psychology have, despite the depth of support for the FFM, led researchers to challenge its completeness. With Cheung et al. (1996) (a) suggesting the existence of a ‘blind-spot’ in Western personality assessment, (b) finding six major personality factors instead of five in Chinese samples and (c) reporting that similar patterns can be found outside of China, in both Singapore and the USA, there is sufficient evidence pointing to a need to investigate the structure and psychometric properties of both Western and Chinese tests in Asia. Moreover, and despite the favourable cross-cultural acceptance of the FFM, there has been a dearth of research providing links between personality and performance at work across cultures. The major questions covered in this thesis are: (a) to what extent is a translated, work-specific measure of personality, based on the FFM structurally similar, reliable, and useful in performance prediction in China? (b) does a locally-developed measure of indigenous personality traits possess acceptable psychometric properties in China? (c) does the indigenous measure have incremental utility over the Western test in its ability to predict performance outcomes in China? (d) does the indigenous Chinese test have acceptable psychometric properties in a Western nation? (e) does the indigenous Chinese test have incremental utility over the Western test in its ability to predict performance in a Western nation? In order to answer these questions, a research program involving 7 organisations, 2 universities and 1040 participants was instigated. A pilot study was carried out with 28 students from an Australian University and 12 counsellors from a vocational training institutions in Hong Kong to assess the psychometric properties of the 15FQ+ outside of its country of origin. Subsequently, the 15FQ+ was administered to 116 staff from an Australian private hospital in order to introduce a real-world organisational setting to the research. The UK-developed 15FQ+ (Fifteen Factor Questionnaire Plus: Psychometrics Limited, 2002) then underwent a program of translation (into Traditional and Simplified Chinese), piloting, revision and trialling. The trialling involved the administration of this questionnaire alongside the Chinese version of the NEO-FFI and the collection of grades from 178 students at a Hong Kong university. Following thorough analyses of the items comprising the questionnaire, it was further refined before being administered with the CPAI-2 (Cross-Cultural Personality Assessment Inventory: Cheung, 2002) to 437 professionals from 4 Hong Kong organisations and 100 ship employees from mainland China. These two questionnaires were then administered in their English forms to 121 Australian University students and 48 hospital staff. Finally, bureau-scored data was collected from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia to enable cross-cultural structural comparisons of 15FQ+ to be carried out. The analyses revealed that the 15FQ+ had adequate psychometric properties in all Western countries noted above. The Chinese version also had strong psychometric properties and “essential identity” with the UK data in Hong Kong. However, the mainland China data revealed poor reliability and a number of scales lacked identity with the UK data. Scores on 15FQ+ scales were shown to be related to outcome measures such as grade performance in students in both Australia and Hong Kong and to perceived work performance in Australian hospital workers. Likewise, the 15FQ+ demonstrated utility in the prediction of performance appraisal competencies for Airline staff in Hong Kong and scale scores were found to correlate with some performance appraisal competencies for Chinese ship crew. The indigenous CPAI-2 revealed poor reliability for most of its scales in all datasets. Joint factor analyses of the 15FQ+ and CPAI-2 indigenous scales revealed that only in Australia did the CPAI-2 measure a unique factor not accounted for by the Western test. In China, the CPAI-2 scales loaded on global scales of the Western test. Furthermore, whilst a small number of scales were found to correlate with performance dimensions, these scales also correlated highly with 15FQ+scales, suggesting a degree of overlap in measurement. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that the CPAI-2 added no incremental predictive ability over and above the 15HQ+ in relation to workplace performance. This research has provided a significant contribution to our understanding of personality in Asia. The program of studies investigating the criterion-related validity of both Western and local tests in Asia added to the body of knowledge that exists regarding the construct validity of FFM tests. Additionally, the use of narrow-band, primary traits as predictors has further enhanced knowledge of the relationship between personality and performance in Asia. In light of the results surrounding the CPAI-2 the research has cast some doubt upon the position that there may be a ‘blind-spot’ in Western personality psychology, but this doubt paradoxically related to the Chinese data, rather than the Australian data. Finally, with a strong practical component, the research program has provided strong evidence to human resource professionals of the utility of Western-developed personality assessments that are based on a long-debated model, translated and applied with local sensitivity.

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Created: Mon, 15 Oct 2007, 16:48:59 EST by Allison Peacock on behalf of School of Psychology