Core Self-Evaluations and the Hierarchical Model of Approach/Avoidance Motivation
Ferris, Douglas Lance
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In the current dissertation I examined the relation between a new personality trait, core self-evaluations (CSE), and job performance, using the hierarchical model of approach and avoidance motivation as a theoretical framework. The hierarchical model of approach and avoidance motivation proposes that the effects of distal personality traits on performance outcomes are mediated through mid-range approach and avoidance motivational mechanisms. However, some controversy exists surrounding whether CSE is best conceptualized as an antecedent of approach or avoidance motivation. As such, prior to examining the CSE-performance relation, I examined whether CSE is best conceptualized as an indicator of approach or avoidance temperament. In Study 1, using confirmatory factor analysis, I demonstrated that mean CSE scores loaded more strongly on a latent avoidance temperament factor than on a latent approach temperament factor. Study 2 provided further evidence for the avoidance nature of CSE by examining the relation between CSE and a motivational construct: achievement goal orientations. In particular, using structural equation modeling, CSE was negatively related to performance-approach, performance-avoid, and mastery-avoid achievement goal orientations, and unrelated to a mastery-approach goal orientation. Such a pattern of results is consistent with the relation between achievement goal orientations and other indicators of avoidance temperament. Having demonstrated that CSE is best conceptualized as an indicator of avoidance temperament, in Study 3 I used the hierarchical model of approach and avoidance motivation as a framework for examining the relation between CSE and job performance. The results indicated that the effect of CSE on job performance was mediated through avoidance, but not approach, goals. The results of the three studies are discussed in terms of their implications for the conceptualization of CSE. As well, the application of the hierarchical model of approach and avoidance motivation framework to organizational behavior is discussed.