Individual Differences in Adaptation to Changes
Beier, Margaret E.
Doctor of Philosophy
Successful adaptation to changes is of great importance to today’s workforce and for organizations. Built on the I-ADAPT theory (Ployhart & Bliese, 2006), this dissertation research explored the relationships among ability and personality factors, adaptability, and adaptive performance. Using a relatively simple skill acquisition task, the noun-pair lookup task, this research examined whether those relationships would be affected by the skill acquisition stages at which a change is introduced. As such, unexpected changes were introduced at different performance stages of the noun-pair lookup task. In one condition, participants experienced an unexpected change to the varied mapping (VM) version of the noun-pair lookup task at early stages of consistent mapping (CM) task learning. In the other condition, the change from the CM task to the VM task was introduced at late stages of the CM task learning. Two hundred and twenty five participants completed the noun-pair lookup task in one of two conditions. They also completed measures of two Big Five factors (openness to experience at the construct level and conscientiousness at the facet level), the I-ADAPT-M measure of adaptability, and tests of working memory capacity and perceptual speed. It was found that the timing of introducing a change did matter. Controlling for pre-change performance, participants had greater performance decrements when the change was introduced at late stages of the CM task practice than when it was introduced at early stages of the CM task practice. Ability factors and personality traits were found to be predictive of strategy choice in the CM task. There was no evidence of the moderating effect of the performance stage at which a change was introduced on the relationship between ability factors and adaptive performance. The mediation effect of adaptability on the relationship between ability and personality factors and adaptive performance was not supported. Adaptability as measured by I-ADAPT-M was also correlated with personality traits but not with ability factors or performance on the noun-pair lookup task. In conclusion, this dissertation showed the importance of making a clear distinction between adaptability and adaptive performance, and taking into consideration skill acquisition stages in task-related adaptive performance.
Individual differences; Adaptation; Adaptability; Changes