Implicit Personality Theory

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Implicit Personality Theory

What Implications Does The Role Of Implicit Personality Theory In Stereotyping Have For The Use Of Personality Traits In Recruitment And Selection Processes? A Discussion


An implicit personality theory refers to a person's notions about which personality characteristics that tend to co-occur in people at the time of recruitment and selection process. Can one assume, for example, that a person with a sense of humor is also intelligent? Is a charming person likely to be honest or dishonest? Is a leader someone likely to be friendly or aggressive? Implicit personality theories guide the inferences that social perceivers make of other people for recruitment process. For example, if a perceiver sees someone act in an energetic style and presumes that energy is linked to intelligence, then the perceiver will likely infer that the other person is intelligent. This paper discusses the implications the role of implicit personality theory makes for the use of personality traits in recruitment and selection processes in a concise and comprehensive way.


Rollinson (2008) mentions one major controversy regarding implicit personality theories is whether they reflect reality or distort it. How far do implicit leadership theories not only influence followers' perceptions and judgments but also guide managers' decisions? As pointed out previously, a perceived misfit between implicit leadership theory and leader behavior may influence managers' decisions in a way that negative consequences for low-level leaders' career development can be expected. Felfe and Petersen (2007) extended this approach, as they claimed not only that followers' perceptions and attribution of leadership are determined by implicit leadership theories, but also that the behavior of top managers, CEOs, executive board members, and other stakeholders is influenced by their respective implicit theories of leadership (Rollinson, 2008). In particular, they postulated that romance of leadership will influence top leaders' behavior in terms of decision making.

In their Decisions, they assign responsibilities, tasks, and resources to a specific leader. These decisions are supposedly influenced by the degree to which a leader meets their expectations and how important the role of leadership is considered in general. According to the romance of leadership theory, Felfe and Petersen argued that persons who believe that a leader's capability is the core factor for success or failure, as proposed in the theory, will tend to base their decision for an enterprise or a project on the evaluation of the leader rather than on alternative factors. Whereas the influence of other factors is de-emphasized, the influence of leadership is overemphasized (Thompson and McHugh, 2003).

Think about the following situation as the participants in the study were asked to do. Imagine you are a member of the executive board of a midsize, prosperous pharmaceutical company and you are preparing for tomorrow's board meeting. There are a lot of decisions on tomorrow's agenda and you have some project proposals that are going to be discussed and decided. One project, “Vectra C+” for example, is on developing a new medicine for the European market (Thompson and McHugh, ...
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