Publication Date

December 1990


A review of research on dispositional effects on job satisfaction reveals two potential practical implications. First, it has been suggested that personnel programs designed to increase satisfaction levels may not have much influence on employees with a disposition to be dissatisfied. However, I provide examples suggesting that this is not likely. Second, it has been suggested that organizations should consider using satisfaction as a criterion in personnel selection. Thus, organizations would seek to hire persons with a disposition towards being satisfied. I argue that such a strategy is of doubtful practical value, unless it can be shown that such dispositions actually translate into differences in important work behaviors. Parallels are drawn with similar issues dealt with previously in the rating, selection, expectancy theory, and health psychology literatures. Finally, evidence from a national sample is used to illustrate these points. I conclude that dispositional effects may have little practical relevance in terms of constraining attempts to increase satisfaction levels of dissatisfied employees or as predictors of key work behaviors. I suggest that future research make greater use of longitudinal data to permit the study of changes in attitudes and behaviors and to allow predictive validity designs.


Suggested Citation
Gerhart, B. (1990). What is the practical relevance of dispositional effects on job satisfaction? (CAHRS Working Paper #90-06). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.