Large-scale investigation of the role of trait activation theory for understanding assessment center convergent and discriminant validity

Filip Lievens, Christopher S. Chasteen, Eric Anthony Day, Neil D. Christiansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study used trait activation theory as a theoretical framework to conduct a large-scale test of the interactionist explanation of the convergent and discriminant validity findings obtained in assessment centers. Trait activation theory specifies the conditions in which cross-situationally consistent and inconsistent candidate performances are likely to occur. Results obtained by aggregating correlations across 30 multitrait-multimethod matrices supported the propositions of trait activation theory, shedding a more positive light on the construct validity puzzle in assessment centers. Overall, convergence among assessment center ratings was better between exercises that provided an opportunity to observe behavior related to the same trait, and discrimination among ratings within exercises was generally better for dimensions that were not expressions of the same underlying traits. Implications for assessment center research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-258
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume91
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2006

Keywords

  • Assessment centers
  • Candidate performances
  • Convergent validity
  • Discriminant validity
  • Interactionist explanation
  • Trait activation

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