To enhance the predictive validity of self-report personality measures, 2 distinct ways of increasing specificity of personality measures have been proposed in the literature - contextual specificity (i.e., providing a contextual referent) and content specificity (i.e., focusing on more specific constructs such as the Big Five facets). This study extends this line of research by examining whether there is an optimal way to configure, align, or integrate contextual and content specificity using measures of conscientiousness to predict college student success. A sample of 478 undergraduate students completed 4 measures of conscientiousness that varied in the level of content and contextual specificity. These forms of specificity were crossed to yield 4 distinct measures of conscientiousness. We then evaluated and compared the relative importance and the incremental importance of these different measures in the prediction of academic success. Superior predictive validity was found for both contextualized and facet measures of conscientiousness compared to a measure of global conscientiousness in predicting grade-point average and a broader behavioral criterion of student performance. When contextual and content specificity approaches were compared and combined, we observed the strongest predictive validity when the level of specificity is appropriately matched between predictor and criterion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis