Using Pre-Test Explanations to Improve Test-Taker Reactions: Testing a Set of "Wise" Interventions

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Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

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The present research tested a set of "wise" interventions (Walton, 2014) designed to improve employee reactions to assessment tests. Drawing upon theories of test-taking reactions, fairness, and social exchange, we generated and pilot-tested pre-test explanations to facilitate positive reactions to the assessments. Across two experimental studies of working adults, we tested a control condition and four experimental groups: (1) an informational fairness condition, (2) a social fairness condition, (3) an uncertainty reduction condition, and (4) a combined condition. In the first study, 256 retail employees were randomly assigned to one of the pre-test explanation conditions before completing a work sample test. Findings indicated higher perceptions of fairness for test-takers in the combined explanation group. In addition, the effects of the test explanations depended upon two contextual variables: test-takers’ level of perceived organizational support and the quality of leader-member exchange relationships with their supervisors. In the second study, the mechanisms underlying pre-test explanations were examined using an online sample of 269 working adults. Consistent with our conceptual framework, findings demonstrated that pre-test explanations had direct effects on transparency, respect, and reassurance. Taken together, these findings have implications for understanding the effects of pre-test explanations in organizational settings as well as the boundary conditions for their use.



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