Question of scientificity – what horoscopes & personnel selection have in common

That's why we rely on the Big 5.

Magdalena Zimmermann
Magdalena Zimmermann Published on 19.05.2022
Question of scientificity – what horoscopes & personnel selection have in common

"What kind of relationship type are you?" - we've all come across this and similar "personality questions" in magazines - and our curiosity has led us to fill out the 3-minute test to learn more about ourselves. That the validity of these results are just as scientific as those of horoscopes, is clear to most - and the criticism to draw wrong conclusions from it loud.


The potential danger of personality diagnostics

According to an interview given to SPIEGEL by Matthias Ziegler, Professor of Psychological Diagnostics at Humboldt University in Berlin, it’s not only these "psycho-tests" in magazines that offer a potential for danger: personnel diagnostics in personnel selection moves in a similar gray area. Certain tests often use procedures that assign people to specific personality types - based on which teams are then assembled. The assignment of these types is accompanied by some problems: on the one hand it reduces people very much by putting them into pigeonholes. Furthermore, type assignments are often not correct across situations, but only apply in a very specific situation. Thus, test results are not stable and do not necessarily fit the real situation.

However, using tests as a basis for personnel decisions is not bad or inadequate per se; they just need to be selected carefully, preferably with the support of psychologists, and above all with a focus on the team as a whole. Because: the interpersonal fit of the team members is a crucial criterion in the selection of personnel and needs a stable basis. To ensure this, soft.fact integrates the empirically validated Big 5 of personality not only for the personality of a person, but also for the team personality.


The Big 5 of Personaility

Decades of research in the field of personality psychology provide an empirically supported and widely accepted answer to this question: "How can personality be measured?" Thus, on a global level, personality can be described along the five domains of Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Negative Emotionality (Neuroticism), and Openness. These five domains are combined to form the Big 5 model. They allow a tangible and at the same time accurate description of interpersonal differences in thinking, experience and behavior.


The Big 5 and role behaviour in the team 

Roles or role tendencies can be defined as the behaviors people show in social contexts. Role tendencies are behaviors that are easier or harder for a person to perform, depending on their personality. This leads to the logical conclusion of linking personality and role. In addition, roles are dynamic in the sense that they are dependent on the social environment in which the person finds himself or herself. The demonstrated role behavior of a team member is dependent on the demonstrated role behavior of the other team members - and visa versa. 


Connecting personaility and role 

Many role inventories do not link personality and role, nor do they integrate the interpersonal dynamics that arise when roles are assigned within a team. soft.fact, on the other hand, takes into account the personality of individual team members when assigning roles, the team personality as a whole, and the resulting dynamics between individuals. In this way, we distribute roles across situations based on stable components such as personality. In this way, the roles in the team fit all possible team situations and the role assignment does not remain a suggestion, but can be implemented directly. Diversity in the execution of tasks and thus successful teamwork are the result - win win for all.


Do you want to learn more about personnel selection which is really scientific and meaningful? Contact us at any time:




Diagnostica (2019), 65, pp. 121-132© 2019 Hogrefe Verlag

Hauschild, J. (2014). Psycho-Tests sind so aussagekräftig wie ein Horoskop. SPIEGEL Psychologie

Rauthmann, J. (2016). Fünf Faktoren Modell. Dorsch Lexikon der Psychologie

Soto, C. J., & John, O. P. (2017). The next Big Five Inventory (BFI-2): Developing and assessing a hierarchical model with 15 facets to enhance bandwidth, fidelity, and predictive power. Journal of personality and social psychology, 113(1), 117.