Personality assessment and ethnicity : a New Zealand study : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Ethnic status is one of the most protected demographic groups in terms of test bias
and discrimination in personnel selection, as such bias breaches many laws, morals,
and ethical procedures. To date there has only been two published studies that have
used New Zealand relevant ethnic groups when analysing whether personality
measures used in pre-employment settings exhibit different mean scores. The present
thesis performed a systematic evaluation on the impact of ethnicity on personality
traits. The study examined the impact of ethnicity on NZ Army Officer applicant
personality assessment scores measured by the EPQ-R and GPP-I. Four ethnic groups
(NZ Europeans, Mâori, Pasifika, and Asian) were analysed for mean trait score
differences among ethnic groups, the stability of these differences across different
personality inventories and models, the variance of personality traits, the impact of
ethnicity on age and gender relationships with personality traits, and how these
differences were related to employment selection outcomes.
The analyses revealed that ethnicity did have some impact on mean personality
assessment scores used in the study. However, these were mostly small differences
among ethnic groups. In addition, most of these differences found on the EPQ-R and
the GPP-I were not consistent across inventories and models. There were no
significant variance differences found on personality traits among ethnic groups.
While initial analysis suggested that ethnicity did not influence the relationship
between age and gender on personality assessment, further examination suggested that
the relationship between gender and personality was impacted on by ethnicity. There
were reassuring results found for New Zealand psychologists and HR specialists, as
only two of the twelve traits analysed showed moderate differences on traits that were
related to selection outcomes. However, for the NZ Army OSB selection process the
findings in the present study indicate that the Lie scale on the EPQ-R and the Vigor
trait on the GPP-I may need to be interpreted with caution for Asian and Pasifika
groups. These results are discussed in terms of implications for personality theory,
measurement, and the direction of future research.