Personality testing and global development

Can personality testing save the world? A few economists think so. 

Okay, okay, I exaggerate. But Michael Callen of the Kennedy School, Arman Rezaee of UCSD, and their co-authors do believe that personality can play around in improving global health, specifically in developing countries where absenteeism amongst public sector employees harms service outcomes. In short, they write, "we decided to test if the five personality traits – along with a sixth, public sector motivation – affect how public servants perform."

You can probably guess their findings; after all, I wouldn't be plugging the research unless the results were interesting. "Our findings give us confidence that changing the composition of the workforce by attracting better people, promoting better people, and/or better tailoring their individual incentives can improve health service delivery." Furthermore, they write that using personality tests to target intrinsically motivated civil servants "might provide useful complements to more traditional strategies – such as increasing worker monitoring or performance incentives – and provide the basis for additional, cost-effective policies for better public health."

So not quite saving the world, but certainly making it a better place for a large number of people who live in very poor countries.

Read their article in the Guardian for further details, and find the full article here