General mental ability and two types of adaptation to unforeseen change: applying discontinuous growth models to the task-change paradigm.
Individual Differences in Adaptation to Changes by Shu Wang Successful adaptation to changes is of great importance to today’s workforce and for organizations. Built on the I-ADAPT theory (Ployhart & Bliese, 2006), this dissertation research explored the relationships among ability and personality factors, adaptability, and adaptive performance. Using a relatively simple skill acquisition task, the noun-pair lookup task, this research examined whether those relationships would be affected by the skill acquisition stages at which a change is introduced. As such, unexpected changes were introduced at different performance stages of the noun-pair lookup task. In one condition, participants experienced an unexpected change to the varied mapping (VM) version of the noun-pair lookup task at early stages of consistent mapping (CM) task learning. In the other condition, the change from the CM task to the VM task was introduced at late stages of the CM task learning. Two hundred and twenty five participants completed the noun-pair lookup task in one of two conditions. They also completed measures of two Big Five factors (openness to experience at the construct level and conscientiousness at the facet level), the I-ADAPT-M measure of adaptability, and tests of working memory capacity and perceptual speed. It was found that the timing of introducing a change did matter. Controlling for pre-change performance, participants had greater performance decrements when the change was introduced at late stages of the CM task practice than when it was introduced at early stages of the CM task practice. Ability factors and personality traits were found to be predictive of strategy choice in the CM task. There was no evidence of the moderating effect of the performance stage at which a change was introduced on the relationship between ability factors and adaptive performance. The mediation effect of adaptability on the relationship between ability and personality factors and adaptive performance was not supported. Adaptability as measured by I-ADAPT-M was also correlated with personality traits but not with ability factors or performance on the noun-pair lookup task. In conclusion, this dissertation showed the importance of making a clear distinction between adaptability and adaptive performance, and taking into consideration skill acquisition stages in task-related adaptive performance. Acknowledgements First and foremost, I would like to give the special thanks to my advisor Margaret Beier, for her spectacular mentorship, for her great guidance throughout the years. She is such a wonderful person to work with; she is a talented and enthusiastic researcher who has been providing me insight, encouragement, and support in every aspect of research; she has been and will always be a role model in both my career and personal life. I know I can never thank her enough. I would like to thank my committee members: Fred Oswald, Anton Villado, Albert Napier, and Jeffrey Fleisher. I am grateful to them for their thoughtful suggestions and comments for this study. I would also like to thank Mike Watkins who was leading me to start my graduate career and has been a friend since. I owe thanks to the research assistants who have helped me tremendously, especially during data collection, scoring, and data compilation: Andie Parazo, Amanda Palmer, Alexandra McHugh, Ashley Membere, Alisa Yu, Yoonjin Min, Amy Buxbaum, Megan Erickson, Amy Lanteigne, and Angela Wu. My parents’ unwavering love and support has been accompanying me every step of my life, to make me strong, and to inspire me to make the most of myself. I feel truly blessed to be their child, to have them as my parents. This dissertation is also theirs. I will always cherish the years I have spent in the Department of Psychology at