First Advisor

Donald M. Truxillo

Term of Graduation


Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology






Personality assessment, Big Five model, Industrial safety -- Management -- Psychological aspects, Work environment -- Safety measures



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 226 pages)


In 2009 there were 3.28 million non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses. Of these injuries and illnesses, 965,000 resulted in lost days from work. In addition there were 4,340 workplace fatalities. Given the number of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities, and the associated direct and indirect costs, organizations have sought to improve safety at work. Safety climate and safety motivation are two variables hypothesized to affect safety behaviors and safety outcomes. Safety climate refers to the shared perceptions of workgroup members, of the organizations' commitment to safety as evidenced by heir immediate supervisors' pattern of implementing safety policies and procedures. Therefore, the workgroup supervisor plays an major role in the development of safety climate. Social exchange theory and previous studies of leadership styles and safety suggest that supervisors who convey concern for subordinates' well-being increase workers' motivation to reciprocate by increasing their safe behaviors at work. However, no research to date has examined the relationship between supervisors' personality and workers perceptions of safety climate, or the effect of Big Five trait-level variables on workers safety motivation. In this study I hypothesize that supervisors' proactive personality and three Big Five traits will be positively related to workers' safety climate perceptions. In addition, I hypothesize that four Big Five traits in workers will be positively related to workers safety motivation. Finally, I hypothesize that group-level safety climate will be significantly related to individual-level safety motivation after controlling for workers' personality.

Participants in this study were maintenance and construction workers from a municipal city bureau, in 28 workgroups, totaling 146 workers and 28 supervisors. Workgroup sizes vary but averaged 6.21 members, including the supervisor. The data were collected in small groups (paper-and-pencil) and electronically (on-line); workers and supervisors answered questionnaire items on personality variables, safety climate, safety motivation, safety behaviors, and safety outcomes. In addition, archival data on safety outcomes were collected. The data were analyzed using a combination of multiple regression, multi-level modeling, and path analysis to test hypotheses and answer research questions.

Both proactive personality and Big Five traits in supervisors accounted for incremental variance in aggregated workgroup safety climate over controls. In addition, workgroup safety climate and individual workers' cautiousness were significant predictors of workgroup safety motivation in a hierarchical linear model. At the individual level of the model, only the traits of cautiousness and morality were significant predictors of individual safety motivation. Tests of the Neal and Griffin (2004) model showed that safety motivation partially mediated the relationship between individual safety climate and safety participation behaviors. In addition, safety motivation fully mediated the relationships between morality and both safety compliance and safety participation behaviors. Finally, safety motivation partially mediated the relationship between cautiousness and both safety compliance and safety participation behaviors.

The results suggest that supervisor personality can have an effect on the on workgroup safety climate perceptions. In addition, this study provided evidence that Big Five traits are useful predictors of the antecedents of accidents and injuries. Suggestions for training managers and future research are also discussed.


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