Constructed response formats and their effects on minority-majority differences and validity

F. Lievens, P.R. Sackett, J.A. Dahlke, Janneke Oostrom, B.D. Soete

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


The inflow of immigrants challenges organizations to consider alternative selection procedures that reduce potential minority (immigrants)-majority (natives) differences, while maintaining valid predictions of performance. To deal with this challenge, this paper proposes response format as a practically and theoretically relevant factor for situational judgment tests (SJTs). We examine a range of response format categories (from traditional multiple-choice formats to more innovative constructed response formats) and conceptually link these response formats to mechanisms underlying minority-majority differences. Two field experiments are conducted with SJTs. Study 1 (274 job seekers) contrasts minority-majority differences in scores on a multiple-choice versus a written constructed response format. Written constructed responses produce much smaller minority-majority differences (d = .28 vs. d = .92). In Study 2 (269 incumbents), scores on a written constructed versus an audiovisual constructed format are compared. The audiovisual format further reduces minority-majority differences (d = .09 vs. d = .41), with validities remaining the same. Results are suggestive of cognitive load as a contributor to the reduction in minority-majority differences, as are rater effects: Scores of raters evaluating transcribed audiovisual responses, which anonymized test takers, produce larger differences. In sum, altering response modality via more realistic response formats (i.e., the audiovisual constructed format) leads to significant reductions in minority-majority differences without impairing criterion-related validity. Implications for selection theory and practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-726
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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