National Academies Press: OpenBook

High Schools and the Changing Workplace: The Employers' View (1984)

Chapter: APPENDIX B: Cognitive Skills and Job Performance

« Previous: APPENDIX A: Education and Employment of U.S. Workers
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: Cognitive Skills and Job Performance." National Research Council. 1984. High Schools and the Changing Workplace: The Employers' View. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18490.
Page 37
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX B: Cognitive Skills and Job Performance." National Research Council. 1984. High Schools and the Changing Workplace: The Employers' View. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18490.
Page 38

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

APPENDIX B 37 Cognitive Skills and Job Performance Over the past four decades, thousands of studies have explored the relationship between job performance and tests of cognitive skills and abilities. Recent summaries of these studies have made clear the central result that basic cognitive skills and abilities are directly related to job performance. (The interested reader should see Ghiselli, 1973;1 Hunter, 1980;2 Pearlman, Schmidt, and Hunter, 1980;3 Schmidt and Hunter, 1981;4 and Hunter and Hunter, 1982.5) In particular, these studies have shown that cognitive skills and abilities are more important determinants of productivity in complex jobs than in simple jobs. Furthermore, cognitive skills and abilities are more important for job success than many other attributes of job performance. For example, Hunter and Hunter summarized hundreds of studies and showed that basic cognitive and psychomotor abilities were nearly three times more important than the amount of experience or class rank/grade point average for predicting job success, and four times more important than behavior in em- ployment interviews or scores on measures of interest. An example of this type of study is one recently completed at the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) (Kehoe, 19836). It involved over 2,500 persons and 4 entry-level jobs that often have been used as career- initiating jobs by noncollege persons. Nine out often distinct cognitive skills and abilities were found to be related to job proficiency and turnover. These included such educable skills as numerical computation, reading comprehen- sion, vocabulary, attention to detail, and attention-sharing. As a result of selecting job applicants with these skills and abilities, AT&T reports that work force productivity was higher and turnover lower than they would have been if these skills and abilities had been ignored. Submitted by panel member Mary L. Tenopyr.

38 APPENDIX B The research summarized above indicates that measured cognitive skills and abilities may account for as much as one third of the productivity differ- ences between workers. Other characteristics, such as motivation to succeed, also may play substantial roles, but currently are less well understood and require considerably more research focused on work productivity. References ' E. E. Ghiselll. "The Validity of Aptitude Tests in Personnel Selection," Personnel Psychology, Vol. 26, No. 4, Winter 1973, pp. 461-477. 2 J. E. Hunter. Validity Generalization for 12,000 Jobs: An Application of Synthetic Validity and Validity Generalization to the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATE). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Employment Service, U.S. Department of Labor, 1980. 3 K. Pearlman, F. L. Schmidt, and J. E. Hunter. "Validity Generalization Results for Tests Used to Predict Training Success and Job Proficiency in Clerical Occupations," Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 65, No. 4, August 1980, pp. 373-406. 4 F. L. Schmidt and J. E. Hunter. "Employment Testing: Old Theories and New Re- search Findings," American Psychologist, Vol. 36, No. 10, October 1981, pp. 1128- 1137. 5 J. E. Hunter and R. F. Hunter. The Validity and Utility of Alternative Predictors of Job Performance. Report submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, June 21, 1982. 6 J. F. Kehoe. The Validity Generalization of Telephone Ability Battery Tests. New York: American Telephone and Telegraph Company, Employment Systems, 1983.

Next: APPENDIX C: Biographies of Panel Members »
High Schools and the Changing Workplace: The Employers' View Get This Book
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF
  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook,'s online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!