Educational attainment as a proxy for cognitive ability in selection: Effects on levels of cognitive ability and adverse impact

Christopher M. Berry, Melissa L. Gruys, Paul R Sackett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors examined the differences in mean level of cognitive ability and adverse impact that can be expected when selecting employees solely on educational attainment as a proxy for cognitive ability versus selecting employees directly on cognitive ability. Selection using cognitive ability worked as a more efficient cognitive screen. Imposing an educational attainment standard of at least 1 year of college, though, did result in noticeably higher levels of cognitive ability in potential applicant pools than did random selection, meaning that educational attainment does work as a cognitive screen. These results held not only in a nationally representative sample but also within and across 6 different occupational groups. Finally, adverse impact is examined for selection using educational attainment, compared with selection on the basis of cognitive ability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)696-705
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume91
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2006

Keywords

  • Adverse impact
  • Cognitive ability
  • Educational attainment

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