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This study examined the emphasis hiring managers placed on general mental ability (GMA) and personality—agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and extraversion—when evaluating applicant profiles for servers for a national restaurant chain. GMA was framed as either “intelligence” or the “ability to learn and solve problems.” Under both conditions, GMA was valued, but less than agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability, even though GMA has been demonstrated to be the strongest predictor of employee performance. Framed as the “ability to learn and solve problems,” GMA was more highly valued, but still less than personality.


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This article was awarded Best Paper by the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly for 2011.