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Measuring Up: Comparing Self-Reports With Unit Records For Assessing Soldier Performance

A. Adler, J. L. Thomas, C. Castro
Published 2005 · Computer Science

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Objective indicators are considered to be the most reliable and inherently valid indicators of performance, but such data can be difficult and expensive to collect. It is also not certain whether objective data archived in organizational records are the “gold standard” metric they are often touted to be. This study compared self-report data obtained from active duty soldiers (N = 433) to their data maintained in organizational records. Performance measures included (a) demonstration of effort (i.e., number of military awards), (b) physical health and fitness (i.e., army physical fitness test score, number of sick call visits, duty restriction for health reasons), (c) soldiering proficiency (i.e., individual weapon qualification score), and (d) personal discipline (i.e., violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, cases of indebtedness, and substance abuse counseling referral). Slight to moderate concordance was found between all self-report and unit records of soldier performance. When there was a misclassification, the majority of soldier self-reports demonstrated positive bias for measures that were directly job related in the Army (e.g., M16 rifle qualification performance and physical fitness). However, there were also cases of negative bias for other aspects of performance (e.g., sick call, indebtedness, substance abuse referral). In general, results from previous research linking positive self-presentation with positive affect and job attitudes were not replicated. The role of errors in both archival records and self-reported data are discussed, along with implications for developing a gold standard method of collecting performance data.
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