Tag Archives: Big 5 Personality

Perseverance Negatively Correlated with Counterproductive Work Behaviours

New research shows that perseverance might be a key character strength when it comes to counterproductive work behaviours. The researchers were interested in finding the character strengths that were most correlated with work performance and counterproductive work behaviours (things like absenteeism, lateness, incivility, etc.). As the title of this post suggests, the researchers found that perseverance is the character strength that is most negatively correlated with counterproductive work behaviours. Meaning, when a person is found to have a lot of perseverance, they’re also found to have a lower level of counterproductive work behaviours.

In thinking about these findings, the thing I most wonder about is when we draw out perseverance to an unhealthy form. That is, of course, it’s great when employees are driven and they persevere, but what happens when they “go over the edge” in their pursuits? I suspect that as we get employees who persevere to these great lengths, it should no longer be thought of as a character strength. And similarly, the negative correlation with counterproductive work behaviours might not hold. In fact, I’d expect that we’d then see a positive correlation with counterproductive work behaviours. Meaning, when the perseverance becomes pathological, I’d expect the employee to exhibit some counterproductive work behaviours. Of course, this is all speculation, so it’d be interesting to see someone test for this in future iterations of this research.


The researchers of this study also tied in studies on the Big 5, specifically as it relates to conscientiousness. It seems pretty well-known that conscientiousness is the characteristic of the Big 5 that is mostly closely correlated with work success and so the researchers of this study made mention of the fact that perseverance is shown to be highly correlated with conscientiousness. If we draw this out a little, the implication is that employees who demonstrate perseverance as one of their character strengths should also show signs of higher work performance (through their expected Big 5 personality trait of conscientiousness).


I suspect that research like this will give folks in HR something else to look for when recruiting new employees. There was already information out there about conscientiousness, but now they can also look for candidates who demonstrate a higher degree of perseverance. Maybe when contacting their references, the recruiter can ask about whether the candidate has demonstrated (or how the candidate has demonstrated) perseverance in their work.

ResearchBlogging.orgLittman-Ovadia, H., & Lavy, S. (2015). Going the Extra Mile: Perseverance as a Key Character Strength at Work Journal of Career Assessment DOI: 10.1177/1069072715580322

Try New Things: My Reintroduction to Merlot

Several months ago, I bought tickets to Quidam — one of the Cirque du Soleil shows. Because I happened to buy the tickets through Ticketmaster, I ended up on some mailing list. One of the ads that I got in the mail was rather enticing (at least it seemed like it) offer for wine. It was an offer to WSJwine. At first, I thought it a bit strange to be considering buying wine through the Wall Street Journal (clearly not one of their core competencies!), but some of the wines in the list sounded pretty tasty.

I did the math on the number of bottles of wine I was going to get (15) and the price I was to pay ($69.99) and it came out to less than $5/bottle. As there were at least half of the wines in there that I was interested in trying, I thought it was a pretty good deal. (This amounted to paying approximately $10/bottle for the bottles I wanted to try and I was comfortable with that.)

As I said, about half of the bottles I wanted to try, while the other half were just icing on top. After drinking a few of the bottles that I knew (or thought) I would enjoy, I thought it might be time to try one of the bottles I was less sure of. In fact, one of these bottles was a Merlot. I didn’t remember liking Merlot (I have a tendency towards Italian wine — maybe it’s because of my heritage), but since I had the bottle and these wines were supposed to be award-winning, I thought I’d give it a try. (Note: this is different from the sunk cost fallacy. Had I taken a sip and not liked it, but continued to drink, that would have been the sunk cost fallacy. Simply having a glass from a bottle of wine that I was unsure as to whether I’d like is more along the lines of ‘openness to experience.’)

After pouring the glass and taking a sip… I liked it!

I was pleasantly surprised. I used to remember not liking Merlot, but it’s possible that my experience with it was when I was younger before my wine palette had developed. I’m certainly no sommelier, but I’d like to *think* that I’ve developed a sense for the kind of wine that I like and don’t, which I *think* is reasonable even taking into account some of the research that may run counter to that.


My point in telling you this story is that I tried something new (or at least something that I was unsure as to whether I’d like). What have you done lately that’s new and different? What have you tried recently that has expanded your horizons (even if it’s only slightly)? If the answer to those questions is nothing, then might I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try something.


Conscientiousness in the Classroom, Conscientiousness in Completion

I teach organizational behavior (OB) at the undergraduate level. Well, to be more specific, I’m a TA for OB at the undergraduate level, but because of the structure of the class, students rarely see the professor for the class and spend most of their time interacting with me as the person at the front of the classroom.

This past week we talked about individual differences — personality. Naturally, we spoke about the Big 5. In reviewing the dimensions of personality we read through some scenarios together and had to identify which personality dimension was implicated. In one of those scenarios, we read about someone faced with a dilemma:

It’s Friday and her friends have invited her out to a concert and she also has plans for Saturday/Sunday. However, she has assignments that are due on Monday.

For folks that know about the Big 5, this example is clearly implicating the Conscientiousness dimension of the Big 5. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, because this happened to me this weekend. It’s not completely surprising that this would happen to me because I usually score very high on conscientiousness, but I thought it was rather coincidental that it happened the same week that we were discussing this concept in class.

Both of the classes I have this semester occur on Monday (afternoon and evening). For both of these classes, I’ve got quite a bit of reading to do, which is okay, but since these classes are outside my field of expertise, some of the reading takes longer (as I have to look up words — from time-to-time — to contextualize my understanding).

If I think back to my days an undergrad, I’d often find myself reading on Sunday night/evening, to make sure I was prepared for class on Monday morning. This weekend, something different happened: I spent most of the day Friday and most of the day Saturday working — really hard. As a result, when I sat down to dinner on Saturday evening, I felt relaxed because I knew I had very little work to complete on Sunday. This feeling… is wonderful.