Group differences in personality: Meta-analyses comparing five U.S. racial groups

Hannah J. Foldes, Emily E. Duehr, Deniz S. Ones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


This research poses 2 applied questions: How large are racial group differences on personality scales and are these differences likely to cause adverse impact in personnel selection? We examined the extent to which racial groups differ across Big 5 personality factors and facets. Large-scale, quantitative estimates based on over 700 effect sizes were meta-analytically summarized. Multiple personality instruments and understudied racial groups, particularly Asian Americans and American Indians, were included in the meta-analyses. Most group comparisons and personality scales yielded negligible differences and are not likely to cause adverse impact in selection. However, facet-level analyses produced different d-values, with some group comparisons showing moderate differences, suggesting that the use of personality measures in selection does not uniformly circumvent adverse impact concerns. The veracity of this conclusion depends on (a) the particular trait in question, (b) the composition of the applicant pool (i.e., which groups are to be compared with one another), (c) the effect size (i.e., d-value), and (d) the selection ratio. For practitioners, we present a quantitatively informed summary of when and where to expect adverse impact to result from personality measures used in personnel selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-616
Number of pages38
JournalPersonnel Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008


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