The use of credit scores as employment screening tools is a hotly debated topic. According to a 2010 poll by the Society for Human Resource Management, 60 percent of surveyed employers conducted credit checks for some or all candidates as part of the hiring process.
With unemployment rates in the United States at double digits, losing a career opportunity has a potentially higher impact than nearly ever before, while the nationwide wave of foreclosures simultaneously makes it more likely for an individual to have a black mark on their record.
In an upcoming study to be published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers from LSU, Texas Tech University and Northern Illinois University have showcased the link between credit ratings and an individual's personality, and shown no connection between poor credit scores and theft.
First, the authors found a link between credit scores and personality types.
"With regards to personality and credit -- it makes sense that conscientiousness is related to good credit, but what was really interesting was that agreeableness was negatively related to your credit score," said Jeremy Bernerth, assistant professor in LSU's E. J. Ourso College of Business Rucks Department of Management. "That suggests easy-going individuals actually have worse credit scores than disagreeable and rude individuals. This suggests that agreeable individuals might get themselves in trouble by co-signing loans for friends or family or taking out additional credit cards at the suggestion of store clerks."
However, contrary to what many employers consider common knowledge and practice, the researchers found no correlation between poor credit scores and bad behavior on the job.
"It was telling that poor credit scores were not correlated to theft and other deviant types of work behaviors," said Bernerth. "Most companies attempt to justify the use of credit scores because they think such employees will end up stealing, but our research suggests that might not be the case."
Authors included Bernerth; LSU Assistant Professor in the E. J. Ourso College of Business Daniel Whitman; Shannon Taylor of Northern Illinois University; and H. Jack Walker of Texas Tech University.
- Bernerth, Jeremy B.; Taylor, Shannon G.; Walker, H. Jack; Whitman, Daniel S. An empirical investigation of dispositional antecedents and performance-related outcomes of credit scores.. Journal of Applied Psychology, Oct 24, 2011 [link]
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