Pigeonholing or learning instrument? Test takers’ reactions to personality testing in management development

Henriette Lundgren*, Brigitte Kroon, Rob Poell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


While factors that influence test takers’ reactions to personality testing in selection contexts have been well researched, little empirical research evidence exists to determine whether these factors also apply to test takers’ reactions in the context of management development (MD). The purpose of this study is, therefore, to explore what explains different test takers’ reactions in the context of MD programs.

A qualitative longitudinal approach with three phases of data collection was used, resulting in participatory workshop observations and 11 semi-structured interviews with participants from two different contexts. Data were analyzed using Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA).

The findings show that test takers’ reactions vary; some are more accepting, others are more neutral or rejecting, where perceived usefulness, clarity of purpose and perceived respectfulness are identified as distinguishing factors. Individuals also differ in terms of their awareness of assumptions and their perceived emotional safety, two emerging factors that are relevant in the MD context.

Research limitations/implications
Data were collected during the MD workshops and three months after, but no records of immediate test takers’ reactions were included, which could be an addition for future research.

Practical implications
The findings of this study suggest that human resource development (HRD) professionals have significant impact on test takers’ reactions when it comes to encouraging self-reflection and learning along personality tests.

This study adds to existing research by offering insights into factors in MD settings where participants are concerned about aspects of fairness, learning and behavioral change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-374
JournalEuropean Journal of Training and Development
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Learning instrument
  • Management development
  • Personality
  • Personality testing
  • Reflection
  • Test takers' reactions


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