Just Be Yourself: Antecedents and Consequences of Personality Trait Expression at Work

Open Access
Dzieweczynski, Jessica L.
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
August 13, 2008
Committee Members:
  • James Lewis Farr, Dissertation Advisor
  • James Lewis Farr, Committee Chair
  • Kevin Murphy, Committee Member
  • Susan Mohammed, Committee Member
  • Alex Colvin, Committee Member
  • personality
  • personality expression
  • job satisfaction
  • performance
  • stress
  • motivation
To gain a better understanding of personality-performance relationships, researchers have been encouraged to consider how and when personality traits are expressed in the workplace, including the contextual factors that enhance or suppress behavioral expression of personality. The current paper applied emotion regulation theory to personality traits to propose the concept of personality trait regulation, including the processes of personality trait expression, personality trait suppression, and personality trait faking. In a series of two studies, personality trait expression was found to be an important predictor of a variety of attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. More specifically, Study 1 examined whether situational cues at two levels (task and social) influenced personality expression. The act of expressing one’s inner personality was found to negatively predict stress and positively predict satisfaction, motivation, and performance. Furthermore, “faking” a personality trait was found to be a stressful and unsatisfying experience for participants. Study 2 utilized field data from three diverse jobs to provide limited support for the hypothesis that having the opportunity to express one’s personality on the job is positively related to performance. Personality trait regulation is a promising area of study for Industrial-Organizational (I-O) psychologists, and a number of directions for future research are proposed.