The Next Big Paradigm Shift

The Next Big Paradigm Shift

 This section of the website discusses what I think will be the next big paradigm shift in psychology, which will have a very important impact on the way we attempt to better understand, assess and enhance human performance in a wide variety of settings. In addition to having an impact on school, work and healthcare, this paradigm shift will also influence our quest for meaning in what we do and with whom we choose to share the journey, personal satisfaction and overall well-being. This new paradigm shift has already begun, and we will need to understand it and how best to benefit from it.

Background and introduction

Numerous publications in the professional literature have provided ample and compelling evidence that emotional intelligence (EI) has a significant impact on academic and occupational performance as well as on performance in other important areas of human activity. In addition to the importance of EI, many of us have known for quite some time that something else is missing to better assess and help enhance human functioning, performance and overall well-being. I strongly felt that this was the case even while developing my model of emotional-social intelligence during my doctoral studies in the early 1980s. Witnessing the explosion of lay and professional interest in Daniel Goleman’s 1995 bestseller on “emotional intelligence” served to confirm my thinking that we were heading toward a monumental shift from focusing on cognitive intelligence, for nearly a century, to expanding the way we view key predictors of human behavior and performance.

The first signs of this new paradigm shift focusing on emotional intelligence, although heavily overshadowed by the focus on cognitive intelligence (the first big paradigm shift in psychology), began to appear with Edward Thorndike’s 1920 definition of “social intelligence” designed to explain optimal behavior and progressed to David Wechsler’s focus on the “non-intellective” predictors of intelligent behavior in 1940, R.W. Leeper’s theory of “emotional thinking” in 1948, Howard Gardner’s idea of “multiple intelligences” in 1983 and to Robert Sternberg’s theory of “practical intelligence” in 1985.

The need for more clarity in operationally defining, conceptualizing and measuring emotional intelligence as was expressed in my efforts during the 1980s, together with that of Peter Salovey, John Mayer and others, continued into the 1990s and beyond. These efforts acted as a catalyst in the second big paradigm shift which focused primarily on the importance of EI.

I feel that we are already witnessing the first signs of the next paradigm shift – the third big paradigm shift – in psychology. More precisely, these new developments represent a shift away from over-emphasizing the importance of emotional-social intelligence toward the inclusion of other important predictors of human behavior and performance.

What distinguishes this new paradigm shift from the existing approach is the need for multifactor models of performance

This new paradigm shift is what I refer to as “placing the emphasis on multifactor models of performance,” which is essentially an innovative re-thinking of the performance formula from a totally new perspective. More precisely, the third big paradigm shift represents a fundamental shift in the way we have been attempting to assess, understand and enhance human performance. There has been and continues to be a tendency to focus on individual predictors of behavior and performance, such as cognitive intelligence, personality traits and, more recently, emotional intelligence. What distinguishes that approach and what is currently emerging is to a focus on a number of key predictors simultaneously. Together with cognitive intelligence (the first big paradigm shift) and emotional-social intelligence (the second big paradigm shift), the third big paradigm shift focuses on a multifactor constellation of combined predictors of human behavior and performance which include the following:

  1. Physical and health factors
  2. Cognitive and adaptive factors, including cognitive intelligence, that help us to do the correct thing
  3. Emotional and personal factors, including emotional intelligence, that help determine how successful we are in the things we do
  4. Social and inter-personal factors, including our moral competence and spiritual development which are community-oriented, that guide us in doing the right thing
  5. Motivational factors that energize us and keep us engaged in navigating life

In addition to encompassing all essential aspects of “mind, body and soul,” the above factors go beyond this age-old adage (and wisdom!) to include other robust predictors of human behavior. When the above factors are enhanced and function optimally, they combine to drive effective behavior, successful performance and a greater sense of well being in the end.

How this model is measured: The Multifactor Measure of Performance™ (MMP™)

The MMP™ was developed by Bar-On Test Developers, LLC. It is a self-report measure of the Bar-On multifactor model of human behavior and performance.

The MMP™ renders an Overall Performance scale that suggests how well the individual is currently performing in general, which is based on 28 sub-scales that assess the 28 factorial components of this model of human behavior and performance. Each of 28 scales contains 9 items in the form of short sentences. A brief version of the MMP™ is currently being developed, which will have fewer items that can be completed in less time. The MMP™ employs a 5-point response scale with a textual response format ranging from “doesn’t describe me at all” (1) to “describes me perfectly” (5). This psychometric instrument is suitable for individuals 17 years of age and older. The current version of the MMP™ takes the average adult less than an hour to complete online.

The individual’s responses render an Overall Performance score and scores on each of the 28 sub-scales. Scores are computer-generated, and raw scores are automatically tabulated and converted into standard scores based on a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15. An average score on the Overall Performance scale suggests that the respondent is currently performing like most people. Average scores on 28 sub-scales indicate that the individual is adept in those specific areas being assessed. Higher scores indicate greater adeptness in the areas being assessed, while lower scores suggest deficiencies in these areas.

The MMP™ has a built-in correction factor that automatically adjusts the scale scores based on scores obtained from the instrument’s two validity indices that assess response consistence and accuracy. This is an important feature for self-report measures in that it reduces the potentially distorting effects of, what is referred to as, “faking good” and “faking bad” thereby increasing the accuracy of the results.

Although the MMP™ is still being normed and validated across cultures around the world, it is thought to possess strong predictive validity based on preliminary results. This assumption is logical, moreover, based on the statistical rule of thumb that the predictability of psychometric instruments increases when they comprise more varied and high-predicting factors.

Those who are interested in learning more about the MMP™ can contact me directly (Reuven@ReuvenBar-On.org).

The best way of applying the MMP™ to assess performance

The most cost-effective way to apply the MMP™, as well as other psychometric instruments like the EQ-i™, is with a process I refer to as “star performer profiling” that I co-developed in 1996 and have applied in organizations worldwide to the present day. This process is described below.

Star performer profiling is essentially a process designed to improve an organization’s ability to select, train and develop high performers. It is one of the most scientific and cost-effective methods of applying performance concepts and assessment tools. Star performer profiling is based on statistically examining the ability of these concepts and tools to predict high performance. The end-product is a statistical snapshot of high performance and high performers unique to the specific organization in which they are developed. It is then used as a valid and reliable roadmap in selection, training and development.

After first developing a detailed action plan for the client that is objective-based and tailored to the client’s specific needs, star performer profiling consists of the following 6 steps:

  1. A randomly selected group of employees complete assessment measures of the concepts being applied such as the MMP™.
  2. The employees’ performance is then rated by supervisors and/or co-workers, which is the bare minimum needed in creating star performer profiles. To strengthen the robustness of the model however, client satisfaction can also be rated.
  3. Multivariate statistics are then applied to examine the ability of the predictive factors involved, such as those included in a multifactor model of performance (as measured by the MMP™ scales for example), to predict the employees’ performance thus pinpointing the most powerful predictors. If data on client satisfaction are also collected, the ability of the predictive factors involved can also be examined to predict this indicator of occupational performance as well.
  4. This process generates a statistical model (or “star performer profile”) of high performance unique for these specific employees working in a particular organization.
  5. The star performer profile is then used in guiding future selection, training and development. Future candidates whose test results, on the MMP™ for example, match the star performer profile the closest are recommended for selection. Additionally, the most powerful predictors in this profile are also focused upon in employee, team and leadership training programs in order to enhance performance even more so.
  6. A utility analysis is conducted, one to two years after the star performer profile is applied in selection, training and development, to examine the extent to which is was successful.
  7.  

It is important to note that because star performer profiling is organization-specific (meaning specifically and uniquely descriptive of the organization in which it is developed), it avoids potential cross-cultural problems frequently encountered in applying models and measures designed to assess and enhance employee, team and leadership performance. To extent that the model was developed a particular occupational group, it is also occupation-specific.

 After applying this approach and seeing the results over a period of 17 years, I am convinced that star performer profiling is the most scientific, accurate and cost-effective method of applying important concepts that are thought to significantly impact performance such as the multifactor model of performance described here.

 Those who are interested in learning more about star performer profiling and would like to apply it, or other services I provide, can contact me directly (Reuven@ReuvenBar-On.org).

Why this multifactor model of performance is so important

As a result of this next big paradigm shift, we will begin to create more comprehensive and robust models — what I refer to as “super models” — designed to evaluate and develop cognitive, emotional, social, moral and spiritual strengths that will significantly impact performance, health and overall well-being. This will be accomplished especially after more sophisticated psychometric instruments, such as the MMP™, are available to scientifically assess these conceptual models. In addition to their potential contribution to academic and occupational performance in particular, these “super models” could also be developed to examine the impact of combining cognitive, emotional, social, moral and spiritual strengths in coping with physical and psychological problems.

It is highly probable that a whole movement and industry will emerge from this new paradigm shift and continue for many years to come… at least until the next big paradigm shift comes along! This will most likely spark the development of new assessment, selection, development and didactic materials to elevate parenting, educational and self-development programs to a higher level.

Who will benefit from this innovative model of performance and how

In addition to the individual himself/herself benefiting from being more comprehensively

evaluated and having those basic attributes that predict their performance more accurately enhanced based on these better models, a wide range of organizational consultants stand to benefit immensely from adopting such models. Psychometric instruments based on multifactor models of performance will provide a source of rich information regarding the individual’s ability to cope with various challenges that can be applied at home, school, work and in healthcare. However, this is once again dependent upon the availability and application of psychometric instruments like the MMP™ based on the multifactor model of performance described here. Additionally, this approach to making better decisions in selection, placement and intervention could eventually be routinely used by a wide variety of practitioners such as HR professionals, EAP personnel, counselors, corporate trainers and coaches, clinical social workers, psychotherapists, and the like.

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