This is the study guide I made myself to prepare for my comprehensive exams in a relatively challenging doctoral program in I/O Psychology. I've posted these materials because I frequently find myself wanting to refer back to them when I'm at work, so really, this site is primarily selfish. I've also integrated sections of my comps answers that I re-use from time to time. I passed on the first try, for what it's worth.

I've moved the site over from the original GooglePages site to clean it up a bit and make the content more searchable. I realize this isn't technically a blog - I don't plan to update often or fuss with comments. But I think this platform will make it easier for you guys to find what you're looking for. I'll leave the old page up, but it's fairly ugly and cumbersome, so I hope this one will serve you better.

You'll find the old linked list of topics below, and also in the right sidebar. The topics are adapted from the list of content areas suggested by The Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology (SIOP) in their Guidelines for Education and Training at the Doctoral Level in Industrial-Organizational Psychology ... you'll see I skipped a couple; that was upon the recommendation of my own program, so check with yours to see if they might be so kind as to let you know on which areas you should focus. And please don't just rely on this page alone to get you through. No warranties expressed or implied here.

If you have corrections or summaries of your own that you'd like to contribute, feel free to contact me. No need to contact me to alert me to typos or improvements upon the prose used herein - it's really just a rough study guide and list of random references--it's not a journal pub.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Borman, W. C., & Motowidlo, S. J. (1997). Task performance and contextual performance: The meaning for personnel selection research. Human Performance, 10, 99-109.


  • Task performance – effectiveness with which job incumbents perform activities that contribute to the organization’s technical core either directly by implementing a part of the technological process, or indirectly by providing it with needed materials or services
  • Contextual activities are important because they contribute to organizational effectiveness in ways that shape the organizational, social, and psychological context that serves as the catalyst for task activities and processes
  • Contextual performance is importantly different from task performance in at least three ways: (1) task activities vary considerably across jobs whereas contextual activities tend to be more similar across jobs; (2) task activities are more likely than contextual activities to be role-prescribed; (3) antecedents of task performance are more likely to involve cognitive ability, whereas antecedents of contextual performance are more likely to involve personality variables
  • If we include as criteria contextual performance factors, then personality predictors will be more successful in personnel selection research

Borman and Motowidlo Taxonomy of Contextual Performance

  • Persisting with enthusiasm and extra effort necessary to complete own task activities successfully.
    • Perseverance and conscientiousness; extra effort on the job
  • Volunteering to carry out task activities that are not formally part of own job.
    • Suggesting organizational improvements; initiative and taking on extra responsibility; making constructive suggestions, developing oneself
  • Helping and cooperating with others
    • Assisting/helping coworkers; assisting/helping customers; organizational courtesy; sportsmanship; altruism; helping coworkers
  • Following organizational rules and procedures
    • Following orders and regulations and respect for authority; complying with organizational values and policies; conscientiousness; meeting deadlines; civic virtue
  • Endorsing, supporting, and defending organizational objectives
    • Organizational loyalty; concern for unit objectives; staying with an organization during hard times and representing the organization favorably to outsiders; protecting the organization

Impact of Ratee Contextual Performance on Overall Performance Ratings

  • It is well-established that global overall performance ratings are influenced substantially by ratee performance; task and contextual performance is weighted about the same by supervisors making ratings

Evidence that Personality Predicts Contextual Performance

  • When the contextual components of overall performance can be measured separately, personality predictor validities will be higher than when the criterion is overall performance
  • Additional reason HPI scales may correlate more highly with contextual-like criteria is the similarity in their bandwidths. The HPI basic scales probably target a criterion domain more narrow than overall performance; from both a predictor-criterion conceptual mapping perspective and a bandwidth similarity perspective, typical personality scales should relate more highly with contextual factors than overall performance


  • The contextual performance domain is important-it seems conceptually and empirically distinct from task performance, distinction will increase in importance as:
    • Global competition continues to raise needed effort levels of employees
    • As team-based organizations become more popular
    • As downsizing continues to make employee adaptability and willingness to exhibit more effort more of a necessity
    • Customer service is increasingly emphasize
  • Research shows that experienced supervisors consider contextual performance on the part of subordinates when making overall performance ratings
  • When contextual performance dimensions are included as criteria, personality predictors are more likely to be successful correlates