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Schmidt Honored for Contributions to Psychological Science

The Association for Psychological Science has named Frank Schmidt, the Ralph Sheets Professor of Human Resources at the Tippie College of Business, the recipient of its 2007 James McKeen Catell Fellow Award honoring APS members for outstanding contributions to applied psychological research.

Recipients of the award are APS members whose research addresses a critical problem in society at large. Catell (1860-1944), an experimental psychologist, developed research techniques that allow for the study of groups of people and the individual differences among them.

Schmidt was the co-developer of two data analysis methods in the 1970s that changed the way people thought about standardized tests, particularly as they related to businesses hiring and developing employees.

Schmidt's first major contribution is validity generalization (VG), which uses data analysis methods to test whether conflicting employment test findings are real or simply the result of statistical and measurement artifacts. For years, employers used tests to determine whom to hire, promote, or assign tasks, but the results often varied so widely they were seen as unreliable. Schmidt, however, discovered that if certain variables were accounted for, the test results did not vary widely and were extremely reliable.

Over the years, tests that drew conflicting conclusions were reinterpreted using Schmidt's VG technique and found to actually be accurate, changing the way human resources professionals think about selection methods. This has led to changes in employment selection practices in many industries, corporations and government agencies. Through validity generalization, Schmidt and his colleague, the late John Hunter of Michigan State University, have shown that, no matter what the job, general intelligence is the single best predictor of both performance and occupational level attained.

Schmidt's second major contribution to the testing field is his development of meta-analytic methods, which clarify and reveal the meaning of research results that appear, at first, to conflict. These methods have been applied to most major Human Resource research areas. Examples include the relationship between measures of employee attitudes and financial outcomes, as well as a variety of relationships such as employee job satisfaction and job performance, determinants of organizational citizenship behavior and the relationship between work-family conflict and job satisfaction.

The APS is an 18,000-member organization dedicated to the advancement of scientific psychology at the national level and to promote, protect, and advance the interests of scientifically oriented psychology in research, application, teaching, and the improvement of human welfare. Its membership includes leading psychological scientists and academics, clinicians, researchers, teachers and administrators.


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