Real Work Task Performance: The Role of Abilities, Non-Ability Traits, and Proximal Variables

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Tatel, Corey E.
Ackerman, Phillip L.
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The objective of this study was to develop new, ecologically valid measures of adult intelligence that are representative of tasks that adults might encounter in their everyday lives. In order to accomplish this objective, 59 undergraduate students (35 male, 24 female) completed three hands-on, experimental tasks that were designed to be realistic and sample a variety of abilities. The three tasks were the construction of a paracord keychain, the assembly of an IKEA chair, and the development and presentation of a “traffic calming” solution. In order to maximize ecological validity of these tasks, participants were provided with access to the Internet so that they could utilize the full extent of resources that would have been at their disposal had they completed the task outside of a laboratory environment. While the results of the study were somewhat mixed in regard to specific hypotheses, they do highlight a gap between real-world intellectual performance and traditional ability assessment, as indicated by moderate and weak correlations between abilities and task performance. Results also suggest a moderate role of non-ability traits and proximal variables in determining task performance. Implications are discussed for the practical utility of intelligence testing and the importance of developing more realistic measures of human abilities.
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