Our pick of the Research Presented at GWPs 2019

March 27, 2019 Alina Siemsen

We are delighted to have just returned from the 23rd GWPs Congress of IO psychologists in Germany.

As ever, the event was packed with insightful scientific discussion within various application areas of IO psychology. Perhaps one of the most exciting and noticeable changes from previous years was that this year saw many more students attending - and presenting. Whilst their studies may have been constrained by research design and sample size, their innovative and unusual choice of topic showed that the next generation of psychologists coming through is keen, inquisitive and thought- provoking.

One example of this innovation in approach was vom Lehn’s research on the relationship between personality and location data captured from smart phones. For this study, 31 participants installed a native app on their mobile phones that captured their location for four weeks. Whilst the results were quite intuitive but not significant (those who are highly conscientious and extraverted visit sports facilities more often), this study showed the powerful and intriguing usage of today’s possibilities in data capturing.

In another presentation, Höfling and Frohl explored the validity of Automated Facial Coding (AFC). This is the automated identification of emotions based on video data. They checked the AFC software against EMG-based (Electromyography – used to evaluate muscle activity) measurement. They found that when the participants were instructed to very clearly show either a sad or a happy face, the EMG could recognise the expression correctly - and equally. However, the AFC was significantly better at detecting happy faces than the EMG was while being equally good at detecting sad faces. However, when participants were instructed to show no emotion (a poker face), the accuracy of the AFC dropped greatly, while the EMG was still able to differentiate. Which leads to my personal take away: My phone camera cannot read my emotions (yet).

I was delighted to see the reaction to Katharina Lochner’s presentation on gamification in assessment - it was almost standing room only! Katharina presented the results of a qualitative interview study that she and I conducted last year on the different kinds of gamification in the assessment context. We compared simulations and gamified assessments – finding that certain characteristics of both options provokes opposite reactions, respectively.  For example, we found that simulations were seen as impersonal - even though they used avatars – but the relevance to the job was much clearer than for gamified cognitive assessments. Both types of gamification were seen as innovative tools that would make a selection process more attractive, especially for younger aged applicants or applicants within the IT or creative sectors.

The final keynote given by Gerd Gigerenzer was intriguing. While his keynote focused on decision-making in uncertain contexts, he presented certain heuristics that people use to simplify their choices. He presented research that showed that the decisions made based on a single variable were often more successful than decisions that were based on a complex model with multiple variables. This sounded impressive – until my colleague pointed out that the crucial first step is to decide on the correct variable on which to base your decision – something that, unfortunately, Gerd did not offer any insight.

However, the decision whether or not to be at the next GWPs Congress is quite easy. We shall see each other in Stuttgart 2020!

About the Author

Alina Siemsen

Alina Siemsen is a product development consultant in the research team at Aon's Assessment Solutions. Alina completed her Master's degree in Business Psychology at the Nordakademie in Hamburg. She is interested in how gaming elements can be applied to assessments. Aon's Assessment Solutions undertake 30 million assessments each year in 90 countries and 40 languages.

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