What does your research focus on?
My current research interests center on the roles of various individual differences (e.g., personality, cognitive ability, work experiences) in predicting and explaining important work outcomes (e.g., work attitudes and job performance). In addition, I am interested in developing and refining meta-analytic methods to synthesize primary studies (first-order meta-analysis) as well as first order meta-analytic studies (second-order meta-analysis, overview of reviews) in order to best estimate construct-level relationships, along with detecting and adjusting for publication bias, a serious threat to the validity of meta-analytic results.
What drew you to this line of research and why is it exciting to you?
My interest in individual differences started with two graduate seminar courses taught by Frank Schmidt and David Watson that I took as a doctoral student at the University of Iowa and with several research projects on the relationships of personality and intelligence with job performance that I worked on with Frank Schmidt and Mick Mount. They allowed me to understand that individual differences (e.g., personality, cognitive ability, values, and experiences) are one of the most interesting and important factors of human behavior across many domains of life including work. Individual differences are exciting and interesting to examine because they provide great insights into how we are all alike and how we are all different. Individual differences are important to examine because they answer why we do what we do. More importantly, individual differences do predict work outcomes across situations and over time.
Who were/are your mentors or scientific influences?
Dr. Frank Schmidt, Professor Emeritus at the University of Iowa has been my best mentor over the years. As all people who know him agree, Dr. Schmidt is not only scary smart but also highly conscientious, which in fact forms the scientifically established best combination among all possible pairs of individual differences for career success. Indeed, he has made substantial, important research contributions to the advancement of the fields of industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology, human resources management (HRM), and research methods. He has published over 100 papers in very selective top-tier journals alone, and his work has been cited over 20,000 times. He also maintains very good relationships with his former students, including me. For example, he often forwards recently written or important journal articles and other documents to his former and current students with similar research interests to let them share opinions and learn new things. Thus, his former students keep in touch with him and respect him for his endless help and mentoring.
What’s your future research agenda?
I would like to expand my current research on the relationships among individual differences and important work outcomes by examining less examined yet important individual differences (e.g., fit, values, interests) and work outcomes (e.g., psychological and physical health) and by considering the moderating effect of cultural differences on the relationships.
What publication are you most proud of?
Oh, I.-S., Wang, G., & Mount, M. K. (2011). Validity of observer ratings of the Five-Factor Model of personality: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 762–773.
In this recent meta-analytic study, my coauthors and I have found that the validity of personality traits for job performance can increase if we measure personality using observer ratings (reputation) instead of self-reports (self-identity).