Research in Gerontological Nursing

Original Research: Descriptive, Cross-Sectional 

Do Personality Traits Predict Work Outcomes of Certified Nursing Assistants?

Christine R. Kovach, PhD, RN, FAAN; Michelle R. Simpson, PhD, RN; Amy B. Reitmaier, MS, RN; Addie Johnson, BA; Sheryl T. Kelber, MS

Abstract

The purposes of this study were to describe personality traits of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) employed at nursing homes and explore relationships between personality traits, job satisfaction, and job performance. The sample included 177 CNAs providing direct care to residents in three nursing homes. CNAs with high and low job performance skills were distinguished by the cluster of traits associated with teamwork skills. Overall, 21.3% of the variance in job satisfaction was explained by the personality traits of Adjustment, Prudence, Likeability, Excitable, and Dutiful, F(8, 145) = 4.899, p < 0.001. The links found between personality, job satisfaction, and job performance provide important information about the personality traits of nursing staff who are most likely to enjoy and perform well in the nursing home setting. Knowledge of these links may be useful for hiring the appropriate person for direct care nursing home positions.

Abstract

The purposes of this study were to describe personality traits of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) employed at nursing homes and explore relationships between personality traits, job satisfaction, and job performance. The sample included 177 CNAs providing direct care to residents in three nursing homes. CNAs with high and low job performance skills were distinguished by the cluster of traits associated with teamwork skills. Overall, 21.3% of the variance in job satisfaction was explained by the personality traits of Adjustment, Prudence, Likeability, Excitable, and Dutiful, F(8, 145) = 4.899, p < 0.001. The links found between personality, job satisfaction, and job performance provide important information about the personality traits of nursing staff who are most likely to enjoy and perform well in the nursing home setting. Knowledge of these links may be useful for hiring the appropriate person for direct care nursing home positions.

Hiring and retaining a satisfied and high-performing nursing home caregiving workforce is a major challenge across the country. The aging of the population has increased the demand for nursing home caregivers, with an additional 500,000 workers needed in the United States in the past decade alone (Stone, 2004). Staffing problems are compounded by an inadequate number of people entering the health care workforce (American Nurses Association, 2001; Stone, 2004) and turnover rates higher than 100% for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) (Forbes-Thompson, Gajewski, Scott-Cawiezell, & Dunton, 2006). The expense and disruption of hiring and training replacements for CNAs who leave their employment directly increases costs and decreases profitability, efficiency, and quality of care (Wagner & Huber, 2003).

Low job satisfaction is strongly correlated with job turnover (Castle, Engberg, Anderson, & Men, 2007; Kuhar, Miller, Spear, Ulreich, & Mion, 2004), while high job satisfaction is a factor associated with employee retention and favorable job performance (Holtom & O’Neill, 2004). Meta-analysis has shown that the personality traits of conscientiousness and emotional stability predict job performance for multiple occupations (Barrick & Mount, 2005). Job satisfaction and performance of CNAs employed in nursing homes may be linked to multiple factors including personality traits. This study used a descriptive, cross-sectional design to: (a) describe personality traits of CNAs; and (b) explore the relationships between personality traits, job satisfaction, and job performance.

Background

Personality traits have long been recognized as important predictors of job performance overall and in specific occupational roles. Personality refers to “a spectrum of individual attributes that consistently distinguish people from one another in terms of their basic tendencies to think, feel, and act in certain ways” (Ones, Viswesvaren, & Dilchert, 2005, p. 390). Personality traits are enduring forces, and a strong body of evidence supports the link between personality and behavior (Barrick & Mount, 2005).

The Five Factor Model (FFM) is based on more than 50 years of factor analytic research (Norman, 1963; Thurstone, 1934; Tupes & Christal, 1961) and is widely recognized as the leading model for guiding personality research (Digman, 1990; Goldberg, 1992; John, 1980, McCrae & Costa, 1987). The FFM, also referred to as The Big Five, categorizes personality traits within five dimensions: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Openness to Experience (Barrick, Mount, & Judge, 2001; J. Hogan & Holland, 2002). The consistency of The Big Five personality traits within people allows predictions of future behavior on the basis of personality traits. The uniqueness of personality traits within people and the link between personality and performance allows matching of personality traits to specific job situations or requirements (Barrick et al., 2001; J. Hogan & Holland, 2003; Judge & Bono, 2001; Riggio & Taylor, 2000; Shin & Holland, 2004; Witt & Ferris, 2003).

The Person-Situation Interactionist model of job performance describes the principle of personality trait activation. Personality traits are activated in response to situational cues that exert “press” on individuals to behave in trait-related ways (Tett & Burnett, 2003). For example, in the occupational context of a nursing home, the trait of nurturance may be activated in a CNA by a situational cue in which an impaired resident requires help cutting his food. The trait of flexibility may be activated in a CNA by the situational cue of a resident slowly trying to dress herself in an effort to maintain her independence. In each of these situations, a nursing staff member who has low levels of the required personality trait may provide a less than optimum response to the needs of the resident. Situational cues in nursing homes, as in other occupations, are fairly predictable and, as hypothesized by the Person-Situation Interactionist model, activate inherent personality traits of staff. Because matching of specific nursing home situational cues and specific staff roles to the staff personality profile may improve the quality of care in nursing homes, it is important to begin examining the relationship between personality traits and job performance.

Job performance in a variety of occupations has been correlated with the personality traits of emotional stability, conscientiousness, and social competence (Barrick et al., 2001; Judge & Bono, 2001). J. Hogan, Rybicki, and Borman (1998) found that the personality trait of ambition, as well as conscientiousness, predicted performance in different situations. Ambitious employees were motivated to perform well in positions with opportunity for advancement; conscientious employees were motivated to perform well in entry-level positions with little opportunity for advancement. For ambitious employees, “getting ahead” was the predominant motivator. For conscientious employees, “getting along” was the primary motive because it was the “right thing to do” (J. Hogan et al., 1998).

Job performance in service occupations has been correlated with specific traits. While the personality trait of extraversion predicts performance in many occupations (Bauer, Erdogan, Liden, & Wayne, 2006; Tett & Burnett, 2003), an inverse relationship between extraversion and job performance has been found in service occupations. This suggests that the ability to listen to others and not be the center of attention may be important when the occupational role requires service (Stewart & Carson, 1995). People working in service occupations are also less ambitious, signifying less motivation for power (R. Hogan & J. Hogan, 1992). The provision of nursing care by CNAs is a service-oriented endeavor. The nursing home setting is unique in the field of nursing in that nursing staff are generally providing care to frail, vulnerable, functionally dependent older adults who are subjected on a long-term basis to the personality traits of the CNAs who are assigned to care for them.

CNAs working in nursing homes have emotionally and physically challenging jobs (Geiger-Brown, Muntaner, Lipscomb, & Trinkoff, 2004). Approximately 67% of nursing home residents have dementia, and the needs associated with dementia present unique caregiving challenges (Magaziner, Zimmerman, Fox, & Burns, 1998). The attributes of residents with dementia in one study that staff found most difficult to cope with were aggression, hostility, resisting care, and unpredictable behaviors (Brodaty, Draper, & Low, 2003).

There is some beginning evidence of a relationship between job performance and personality traits of direct care staff. Poor communication skills, overidentification with another’s emotional distress, and psychological inflexibility have been associated with impaired performance of nurses providing end-of-life care (Riggio & Taylor, 2000). Caregiver neuroticism has been significantly related to agitation of residents with dementia (r = 0.498, p = 0.007) (Welleford, Harkins, & Taylor, 1995).

Nursing home staff job satisfaction has also been positively correlated with working well within a team, being caring and trustworthy, having problem-solving skills, and enjoying working with older adults (Moyle, Skinner, Rowe, & Gork, 2003). Zimmerman et al. (2005) found that staff caring for people with dementia who possess the personality traits of empathy, agreeability, flexibility, and desire to care about another person’s psychological needs experience higher job satisfaction. A recent study of 1,579 nursing assistants found they were least satisfied with pay, potential for advancement, workload, and work demands (Castle, 2007). The CNAs were most satisfied with the effects they had on residents’ lives and the close bonds formed with residents and families (Castle, 2007).

Little research to date has examined personality traits of CNAs providing direct care in nursing homes. If a link is found between personality and job satisfaction and job performance, this knowledge can be used to guide administrators and managers to hire the appropriate person for the job.

Method

A descriptive cross-sectional design was used to describe personality characteristics of CNAs and examine relationships between personality, job satisfaction, and job performance.

Setting and Sample

Three nursing homes in the Midwest were the settings for this study. One nursing home, located in an urban setting, had 160 beds, was not for profit, and had 75% of residents receiving Medicaid reimbursement. The other two homes were under proprietary ownership, located in suburbs, had approximately 200 beds each, and also had 75% of residents receiving Medicaid reimbursement. The study was approved by the long-term care facility and university internal review boards before data collection began. Data collection occurred between June and December 2006.

Consent packets were distributed with paychecks. Potential participants attended sessions in which a research assistant (A.J.) answered questions and was available to provide assistance completing the surveys. Signs were posted announcing the assistance sessions, which were offered on each shift. A small snack was provided with each survey packet. The staff were informed that a rating of their job performance was being solicited from their supervisors and that they would not be given the results of their supervisor’s rating. Two hundred thirty-four CNAs providing direct care to residents were asked to participate in this study; of those, 184 provided informed consent, and 177 provided complete and usable data, yielding a 76% response rate.

The sample was primarily women (93%, n = 164) and African American (64%, n = 113). Twenty-three percent (n = 41) identified themselves as White, 9% (n = 16) as Hispanic, 2% (n = 3) as Asian, and 2% (n = 3) as Native American. Eighty-one percent of the respondents were younger than 45 (n = 143). CNAs from all shifts were represented (day shift = 42%, n = 74; evening shift = 34%, n = 60; night shift = 21%, n = 38) and were employed an average of 5.35 years (SD = 7.60, median = 2.17).

Measures

Personality Traits. Two tools were used to assess personality traits: the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) and the Hogan Development Survey (HDS). The FFM is referenced as a starting point for the development of the HPI (R. Hogan & J. Hogan, 1992). The HPI is a 206-item true/false inventory that provides information regarding normal personality traits that facilitate or hinder a person’s ability to get along with others and achieve occupational goals (J. Hogan & Holland, 2003). The inventory contains seven primary scales: Adjustment (calm and self-accepting), Ambition (confident, competitive, and energetic), Likeability (interpersonal skill and tact), Sociability (needs social interaction, extraversion), Prudence (conscientious, reliable, and dependable), Intellectance (bright and creative), and School Success (enjoys education for its own sake) (Shin & Holland, 2004). A validity scale within the HPI accounted for any careless or uncooperative survey responses. In this study sample, Cronbach’s alpha coefficients ranged from 0.721 to 0.857. Correlations of the HPI scales with other well-validated personality tests and with peer ratings support the validity of the HPI scales (R. Hogan & J. Hogan, 1992).

The HDS is a 168-item agree/disagree inventory that assesses interpersonal behaviors that adversely affect performance or reputation of people at work (R. Hogan & J. Hogan, 1997). Eleven non-overlapping scales are included within the HDS: Excitable (unpredictable, emotional), Skeptical (suspicious, vengeful), Cautious (resistant to change, reluctant to take chances), Reserved (insensitive, detached), Leisurely (passive aggressive), Bold (self-promoting, unwilling to learn from others), Mischievous (risk taking, nonconforming), Colorful (dramatic, attention seeking), Imaginative (unconventional, creative), Diligent (precise, inflexible, critical), and Dutiful (eager to please but unable to act independently). In this study sample, Cronbach’s alpha coefficients ranged from 0.462 for Dutiful to 0.811 for Bold. Correlations between the scales of the HDS and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory support the validity of the tool (R. Hogan & J. Hogan, 1997).

According to the tool developers (R. Hogan & J. Hogan, 1997), several scales within the HDS measure traits that are expected to have a more adverse effect on performance of individuals working in occupations that require teamwork and collaboration. Individuals with high scores on the Cautious, Dutiful, and Diligent scales are expected to be good team players because they are conforming and eager to please. Conversely, people with high scores on the Bold, Mischievous, Colorful, and Imaginative scales are expected to be poor team players because of a tendency to want to be the center of attention, to be competitive, and to not follow rules. In addition, people who are Skeptical and Reserved may not be good team members because they may be distrustful and aloof toward other group members (R. Hogan & J. Hogan, 1997).

Job Satisfaction. The General Job Satisfaction Scale (GJS) (Hackman & Oldham, 1975; Taber & Taylor, 2006) measures how happy or satisfied a person is with his or her job. This 5-item tool has a possible score range of 0 to 5 and a Flesch-Kincaid readability index of 5.3. This instrument is recommended for use with direct care workers in long-term health care (Kiefer et al., 2005), with prior internal consistency indexes reported to be between 0.74 and 0.80. The internal consistency of the GJS for this sample was 0.57. Prior evidence of construct validity includes a negative relationship to organizational size and positive relationships with job level, tenure, performance, and motivational fit between individuals and their work (Kiefer et al., 2005).

Job Performance. Job performance was assessed via a single-item indicator. The direct supervisor of each employee was asked the following question in a private location: “On a scale of 1 to 10—with 10 being best overall performance and 1 being worst overall performance—how would you rate the job performance of (employee’s name)?” To control for response set biases such as extreme responses and social desirability, supervisors were encouraged to use the whole range of possible responses on the scale.

CNA Demographic Data. A demographic questionnaire was used to collect information regarding gender, ethnicity, age, work shift, and length of work experience. Increments were used to define age (18 to 25, 26 to 35, 36 to 45, 46 to 55, 56 to 65, 66 and older) so participant responses could not be identified by their age. Length of employment was defined as the number of years working as a CNA at the facility. Work shift was defined as days, evenings, or nights.

Data Analysis

Data were analyzed using SPSS version 16.0. Data analysis included descriptive statistics, correlational analysis, and multiple linear regression. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05. With a sample of 177 CNAs, a power analysis indicated the study would have a power of 0.80 to detect a small to moderate effect size of 0.21. Bivariate correlations were used to examine the relationship between CNA personality traits and job satisfaction, job performance, and demographic characteristics. The job performance scores were grouped by quartiles. The differences in personality traits between CNA staff in the upper and lower quartiles of job performance were tested using t tests. Hierarchical regression was used to determine the percentage of variance in job satisfaction explained by personality traits.

Missing data for the HPI and HDS scales were mean replaced. If a participant answered at least 80% of the scale questions, the scale mean for that person was used to represent the missing item. Scores on the HPI and HDS were divided into groups according to recommended percentile rank cutoffs (M. Lemming, personal communication, August 14, 2007). For the HPI, scores in the 65th percentile and above are considered high and desirable, scores between the 36th and 64th percentiles are considered average, and scores in the 35th percentile and below are considered low. For the HDS, scores in the 90th percentile and above are considered high, whereas individuals with lower scores (less than 90th percentile range) on the HDS tend to have fewer social performance problems at work (R. Hogan & J. Hogan, 1997). The HPI includes a validity scale, with scores less than 10 indicating an invalid profile. Two participants scored less than 10, indicating an invalid profile and were dropped from the study. Seven respondents not completing the GJS and 2 respondents with invalid personality profiles were excluded from the data analysis, resulting in a final sample of 177 participants.

Results

Personality Traits

The scores and percentile distributions for the HPI traits are found in Table 1. The traits with the highest percentage of CNAs scoring at or above the 65th percentile were Prudence (43%), followed by School Success (32%). The traits with the highest percentage of CNAs scoring at or below the 35th percentile were Adjustment (58%), followed by Ambition (58%). Nineteen percent (n = 34) of the CNAs scored below the 65th percentile on all of the HPI’s personality trait scales. For the personality traits measured by the HDS, the scores in the 90th percentile and above are consistent with less social performance problems at work (R. Hogan & J. Hogan, 1997). Fifty percent (n = 89) of the CNAs scored below the 90th percentile (high range) on each of the personality traits measured by the HDS. The traits with the largest percentage of participants scoring in the high range (14%) were Imaginative and Mischievous, followed by Skeptical (13%) (Table 2).

Certified Nursing Assistants’ Hogan Personality Inventory Traits, by High, Average, and Low Scores (N = 177)

Table 1: Certified Nursing Assistants’ Hogan Personality Inventory Traits, by High, Average, and Low Scores (N = 177)

Percentage of Certified Nursing Assistants with Hogan Development Scale Personality Traits in the 90th Percentile and Above (N = 177)

Table 2: Percentage of Certified Nursing Assistants with Hogan Development Scale Personality Traits in the 90th Percentile and Above (N = 177)

Positive relationships were found between length of employment and the personality traits of Cautious (r = 0.375, p < 0.001) and Dutiful (r = 0.207, p = 0.009), while negative relationships were found between length of employment and the personality traits of Bold (r = −0.233, p < 0.003), Colorful (r = −0.297, p < 0.001), Imaginative (r = −0.201, p = 0.011), Ambition (r = −0.376, p < 0.001), Sociability (r = −0.270, p < 0.001), and School Success (r = −0.259, p < 0.001).

A relationship was found between age and the personality traits of Bold (r = −0.291, p < 0.01), Mischievous (r = −0.262, p < 0.01), Colorful (r = −0.289, p < 0.001), Imaginative (r = −0.165, p < 0.01), Diligent (r = 0.177, p < 0.02), Dutiful (r = 0.207, p < 0.01), Sociability (r = −0.322, p < 0.0001), Prudence (r = 0.241, p = 0.001), and Likability (r = 0.148, p = 0.051).

Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction scores ranged from 1 to 4.8 and averaged 3.35 (SD = 0.71). No association was found between CNA job satisfaction and age (r = 0.057, p = 0.454) or length of employment (r = −0.008, p = 0.915). A statistically significant relationship was found between CNA job satisfaction and the personality traits of Adjustment (r = 0.268, p < 0.001), Prudence (r = 0.341, p < 0.001), Likeability (r = 0.275, p < 0.001), Excitable (r = −0.243, p < 0.001), Dutiful (r = 0.221, p < 0.01), and Skeptical (r = −0.172, p = 0.024).

Job Performance

Job performance scores of participants ranged from 1 to 10 and averaged 6.55 (SD = 2.48). A small, positive correlation was found between length of employment and performance (r = 0.199, p < 0.01), while no relationship was found between job satisfaction and performance (r = 0.01, p = 0.895). Examination of differences in the traits on the HPI between staff with high and low job performance revealed that higher performing staff scored significantly higher on the trait Ambition, t(131) = 1.92, p = 0.028. Examination of differences in the personality traits of the HDS between staff with high and low job performance revealed that high performers scored lower on the traits Bold, t(128) = 1.90, p = 0.030; Mischievous, t(129) = 1.94, p = 0.027; and Colorful, t(128) = 2.02, p = 0.023.

Personality Traits Predicting Job Satisfaction

Hierarchical regression analysis was performed to determine the relative contribution of personality traits in predicting job satisfaction. Traits with bivariate correlations of 0.2 or higher were chosen to be entered into the equation. The strongest correlations to job satisfaction were among the HPI personality traits of Adjustment, Prudence, Likeability and the HDS personality traits of Excitement and Dutiful. To evaluate the impact of personality traits on the outcome of job satisfaction, the demographic variables of age, length of employment, and gender were entered into the model as control variables. The personality traits of Likeability and Prudence were added next, followed by the HDS traits of Excitable and Dutiful. As a final step, Adjustment, a potential mediating variable, was entered into the model (Table 3).

Summary of Hierarchical Regression Analysis with Job Satisfaction as Criterion (N = 177)

Table 3: Summary of Hierarchical Regression Analysis with Job Satisfaction as Criterion (N = 177)

After controlling for age, length of employment, and gender, Likeability and Prudence accounted for 13.9% of the variance in job satisfaction (p < 0.001); Excitable and Dutiful explained an additional 4.6% variance in job satisfaction (p < 0.01). At Step 4, Adjustment was added to the model, and Excitable was no longer a statistically significant predictor. The significant correlations between Excitable and Adjustment (r = −0.811, p < 0.001) suggest the mediating effect of Adjustment on the Excitable trait and job satisfaction relationship. Overall, the model explained 21.3% of the variance in job satisfaction by the personality traits Adjustment, Prudence, Likeability, Excitable, and Dutiful, F(8,145) = 4.899, p < 0.001.

Discussion

This study provides insight into the relationship between personality traits, job satisfaction, and job performance of CNAs working in nursing homes. Consistent with service occupation studies, a high percentage of CNAs in this sample scored in the low range on Ambition and Sociability. Low scores on Ambition indicate less motivation for power and administrative positions and may signal more altruistic motivations for work performance. The finding that high performers had higher Ambition scores was unexpected and contradicts other studies of staff in entry-level positions. It may be important to consider the ambition of CNAs when hiring as well as when researching possible motivators such as career ladders and tuition reimbursement benefits. Lower scores on Sociability indicate less extraversion and less need to be the center of attention and may signal that these employees are better listeners.

Although conscientiousness has been cited as the most important predictor of job performance (Roberts, Chernyshenko, Stark, & Goldberg, 2005), in this study conscientiousness (Prudence) was significantly related to job satisfaction but not to performance. The lack of a relationship in this sample between performance and conscientiousness, coupled with the lack of high interpersonal skill scores (Likeability), is consistent with findings from a series of four studies that found the relationship between job performance and conscientiousness is negligible among workers with poor interpersonal skills (Witt & Ferris, 2003).

Emotional stability (Adjustment) is a desirable characteristic that relates to job performance (Barrick et al., 2001; Judge & Bono, 2001). A high percentage of this sample scored low on Adjustment, suggesting an inability to handle pressure well. In this sample, those who scored higher on emotional stability factors and had better interpersonal skills reported higher job satisfaction. Emotional stability may be an important trait that buffers the emotional challenges of meeting the needs of nursing home residents who are frail and cognitively impaired. The term “emotion work” has been used to describe work that involves caring for others and is less likely to produce “objective” results (Beck, Ortigara, Mercer, & Shue, 1999). It would be useful for future research to compare the provision of a climate conducive to positive emotion work on performance, satisfaction, and turnover. Future research should also examine the skills needed to provide emotion work in long-term care.

High and low performers were distinguished by the cluster of traits associated with skills needed to work in a team. Results from this study suggest that nursing homes may need to provide training to help CNAs develop skills that will enhance their ability to work well within a team. This finding is consistent with the Institute of Medicine’s (2008) recommendations to increase minimum training standards for all direct-care workers. If a staff member does not possess the traits needed to work well in a team, the situational cues that call on teamwork skills will not result in optimal performance in team situations. Findings indicating a high incidence of traits associated with poor teamwork, poor interpersonal skills, and poor stress tolerance suggest the need to determine whether interventions designed to enhance team, interpersonal, and coping skills targeted to CNAs with these traits may mediate the relationships between these traits and job satisfaction and performance. Furthermore, future research may consider distinct combinations of personality traits as they relate to CNAs working in the nursing home setting.

Although personality traits are considered relatively enduring, a shift in thinking has occurred based on research showing dynamic aspects to personality over the life course (Small, Hertzog, Hultsch, & Dixon, 2003). The link between CNA personality traits, age, and length of work experience in this study supports this line of thinking. However, on the basis of this study’s findings, it remains unclear whether the changing nature of CNA personality traits over the life course are a result of age, a manifestation of years of working in the nursing home setting, or a combination of both. Future research is needed to determine whether age and/or length of work experience moderates the relationship between CNA personality traits and job satisfaction and performance or whether length of work experience (which may imply factors of the work environment) is a mediator. Interventions would differ based on this finding.

Limitations

This research has limitations. General benchmarks of high, average, and low personality traits relative to work performance were used to present results, as norms are not available for the specific roles of CNAs in the nursing home. Although personality surveys have commonly been used to inform decisions when hiring administrators, the practice is uncommon when hiring CNAs. Therefore, there is a need for development of specific benchmarks for CNAs. This study offers a starting point for this development. It is possible that tools that assess personality traits may not fully capture the specific qualities that are called on in the context of caring for frail, cognitively impaired, or dying older adults or that different benchmarks are indicated. For example, a qualitative study by Black (2004) found long-term care workers possess a point of view called “moral imagination,” which involves insights about self, as well as values regarding human life and death. Moral imagination seems to contain not only aspects of personality but components of self-image and belief systems as well.

Other limitations are acknowledged and should be considered when interpreting the results of this study. The CNAs at these three sites may not represent CNAs in other settings, and participating staff may differ from those who did not. Self-report is open to bias, particularly the bias resulting from trying to show oneself in a favorable light. Assessing performance of one’s job roles is best done by direct observation; however, work on developing criteria for measuring staff performance in the nursing home is in its infancy (Zimmerman et al., 2005). Reliability of the single-item measure of job performance, which allowed for each supervisor to individually conceptualize the meaning of job performance, is limiting. In addition, six of the personality trait scales had levels of internal consistency reliability below the generally accepted level of 0.70. Finally, causal claims cannot be made based on this study.

Conclusion

This study suggests a link may exist between personality, job satisfaction, and job performance of CNAs working in nursing homes. Although personality traits were statistically significantly related to job satisfaction and performance, it is noteworthy that a large percentage of the variance was explained by factors other than personality traits. Personality is only one factor that correlates with job satisfaction and performance and should not shift focus away from but should instead be considered among the individual and organizational factors that influence quality of care and staff turnover. Future research is needed before it can be determined whether personality testing is useful for selection of CNAs working in nursing homes.

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Certified Nursing Assistants’ Hogan Personality Inventory Traits, by High, Average, and Low Scores (N = 177)

Personality Trait (Possible Score Range) Mean (SD) High (%) Average (%) Low (%)
Adjustment (0 to 37) 22.66 (6.97) 20 22 58
Ambition (0 to 29) 20.58 (5.28) 8 34 58
Intellectance (0 to 25) 11.96 (4.52) 16 29 55
Likeability (0 to 22) 18.63 (3.07) 26 43 31
Prudence (0 to 31) 19.94 (4.83) 43 17 40
School success (0 to 14) 7.77 (3.14) 32 34 34
Sociability (0 to 24) 11.33 (4.76) 24 34 42

Percentage of Certified Nursing Assistants with Hogan Development Scale Personality Traits in the 90th Percentile and Above (N = 177)

Personality Traita % Mean (SD)
Imaginative 14 5.96 (3.00)
Mischievous 14 5.60 (2.56)
Skeptical 13 7.20 (2.87)
Excitable 12 5.44 (3.23)
Reserved 9 6.09 (2.63)
Bold 8 8.21 (3.16)
Cautious 8 5.10 (2.78)
Colorful 8 6.25 (3.04)
Diligent 8 9.58 (2.44)
Leisurely 8 6.83 (2.62)
Dutiful 7 8.33 (2.40)

Summary of Hierarchical Regression Analysis with Job Satisfaction as Criterion (N = 177)

Variable R2 Change inR2 β tValue pValue
Step 1
  Age 0.17 1.73 0.09
  Length of employment –0.13 –1.33 0.18
  Gender 0.025 0.025 0.09 1.10 0.27
Step 2
  Age 0.01 0.06 0.95
  Length of employment –0.04 –0.47 0.64
  Gender 0.05 0.69 0.49
  Likeability 0.20 2.29 0.02
  Prudence 0.163 0.139** 0.26 2.96 0.00
Step 3
  Age –0.01 –0.06 0.95
  Length of employment –0.07 –0.71 0.48
  Gender 0.07 0.91 0.36
  Likeability 0.12 1.39 0.17
  Prudence 0.19 1.99 0.05
  Excitable –0.17 –1.91 0.06
  Dutiful 0.21 0.046* 0.19 2.43 0.02
Step 4
  Age 0.00 –0.05 0.96
  Length of employment –0.06 –0.63 0.53
  Gender 0.07 0.87 0.38
  Likeability 0.12 1.34 0.18
  Prudence 0.15 1.50 0.14
  Excitable –0.10 –0.82 0.41
  Dutiful 0.20 2.47 0.01
  Adjustment 0.213 0.003 0.11 0.77 0.44
Authors

Dr. Kovach is Professor and Methods Core Director, Self-Management Science Center, Dr. Simpson is Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, Ms. Johnson is Research Associate, Ms. Kelber is Biostatistician, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Ms. Reitmaier is Assistant Professor, Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota.

The authors disclose that they have no significant financial interests in any product or class of products discussed directly or indirectly in this activity. This study was funded by the Helen Bader Foundation and the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation. This research was also supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (1 P20NR010674-01) to the Self-Management Science Center.

Address correspondence to Christine R. Kovach, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Methods Core Director, Self-Management Science Center, College of Nursing, Cunningham Hall, 1921 East Hartford Avenue, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413; e-mail: ckovach@uwm.edu.

Received: September 30, 2008
Accepted: October 05, 2009
Posted Online: April 30, 2010

10.3928/19404921-20100330-03

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