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Research into Practice: Division of Occupational Psychology Conference 2017 - Highlights


This week's blog reviews the Division of Occupational Psychology Annual Conference 2017. 

The theme of this year’s DOP conference was, ‘Research into Practice: Relevance & Rigour’.

This theme encompassed the importance of evidence based practice and how applying scientific research to the ways we work, leads to effective people and organisations.

Read on for the highlights of the 3 days.


Talking Up, Talking Down: The Power of Positive Speaking

A highly interesting start to the conference came from Professor Susan Fiske, Princeton University and her keynote on the power of positive speaking. Her and her team of researchers study how people communicate and present themselves to one another.

Prof. Fiske spoke about ‘The Compensation Effect’ which is where people perceive others as warm or competent, with warmth compensating for competence or competence compensating for warmth.

For example, findings show that Americans perceive ‘the Elderly’ as having high warmth but low competence and in comparison ‘the Rich’ as having high competence but low warmth.

Drawing on the compensation effect, Fiske’s team have found people tend to downplay either warmth or competence, to communicate an innuendo to the other person.

This can be seen in the workplace:

Colleague 1: ‘Is Dan good at his job?’
Colleague 2: ‘Well he is very friendly’.
You can see here that by only referring to Dan’s warmth, colleague 2 is communicating a lower competence level for Dan.

Can you think of a conversation where you have noticed ‘The Compensation Effect’?


Evidence Based Practice for All

Dr Rachel Lewis from Kingston Business School and Co Director of Affinity Health at Work presented a keynote which focused on Evidence based practice.

Rachel credited Rob Briner for his continued work in this area, but spoke first hand of the need for evidence not only from research studies, but from the workplace itself.

Her research concludes that a more inclusive approach would tie together input from both academics and practitioners meaning solutions are 1) evidence based and 2) practical for use in the workplace.

This research has been the motivator behind the Affinity Health at Work hub, a new portal providing research to both academics and practitioners. What makes this hub different from the others is the fact it is free and will always remain free.

Furthermore, the research is presented with an easy to read summary which means this hub is both academic and practitioner friendly, promoting evidence based practice for all.


Psychosocial safety climate: Productivity vs Psychologically Healthy Work

Maintaining a mentally healthy and productive workforce is a seemingly inevitable challenge.

Dr Maureen Dollard from the University of South Australia introduced the concept of Psychosocial Safety Climate (PSC) as the policies, practices and procedure in place by management for the protection of worker psychological health and safety.

PSC is made up of 4 factors; priority, communication, participation and involvement, and management involvement.

Measuring PSC can give you an indication if your organisation's wellbeing. A low PSC predicts bullying (perpetrated by managers), absenteeism and skill decretion.

The cost of low PSC is $6billion AUD (from presenteeism and sickness absence).

High PSC is related to happiness and job rewards. An organisation can increase their PSC by building on current systems, involving all levels and communication, talking to stakeholders, using participatory approaches and using sustainable workplace interventions.

Evidence based review of England & Wales police recruitment model

Howard Clemence from the College of Policing presented their review of the Police recruitment model.

The model itself had not been updated since 2002 and although it offered a consistent standard and technically robust process it contained dated exercises, dated technology, was very rigid and had no measurement of values.

Howard stressed the importance of using psychological research to develop their solution and using the Rapid evidence assessment method, he and his team analysed over 8,000 journal articles in order to evaluate which selection methods to use.

For them the key was to find a solution which demonstrated high predictive validity but that was bias free for BAEM groups.

Their solution combines E-recruitment and a new assessment centre encompassing: a collaboration test, video based observation test, work samples, statement taking exercise, structured interview and cognitive ability test.

You can read their evaluation of evidence across the whole recruitment model in Howard’s report.

Towards Agile Talent Assessment: The Key Role of Modularity

Dr Philip Lievens from Ghent University delivered an excellent talk on an alternative method of designing an assessment method.

Previous research, (including the renowned Schmidt and Hunter meta analysis) has focussed on measuring the validity and reliability of selection methods as a whole i.e interview, role play, testing.

Dr Lievens identified 7 factors that make up a selection method and these include; stimulus design, contextualisation, consistency in stimulus  presentation, response format, consistency in response evaluation, information source and instruction.

These 7 factors were derived from the existing traditional methods and he conducted a literature review on which different components have a high validity and psychological properties.

Phillip's research suggests that you can build the ideal assessment by using building blocks. For example Stimulus Format is defined by the modality of the stimulus being tested and from his research he identified a number of options that you can choose including textual, auditory, face to face, remote interactive etc.

The current holistic methods were described as integrated, interdependent, closely coupled and performance focused. Whereas, his modular, building block approach is a more flexible, loosely coupled and independent method of assessment design.


We hope you enjoyed our review of this year's conference and best of luck for 2017!


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