Utilising Subjective Methodologies in the Development of Scientifically Defensible Physical Employment Standards


Research Paper Title

The application of subjective job task analysis techniques in physically demanding occupations: evidence for the presence of self-serving bias.

Background

The aim of this study was to determine if perceptions of physically demanding job tasks are biased by employee demographics and employment profile characteristics including:

  • Age;
  • Sex;
  • Experience;
  • Length of tenure;
  • Rank; and
  • If they completed or supervised a task.

Methods

Surveys were administered to 427 Royal Australian Navy personnel who characterised 33 tasks in terms of physical effort, importance, frequency, duration and vertical/horizontal distance travelled.

Results

Results showed no evidence of bias resulting from participant characteristics, however participants who were actively involved in both task participation and supervision rated these tasks as more important than those involved only in the supervision of that task.

This may indicate self-serving bias in which participants that are more actively involved in a task had an inflated perception of that task’s importance.

Conclusions

These results have important implications for the conduct of job task analyses, especially the use of subjective methodologies in the development of scientifically defensible physical employment standards.

Practitioner Summary

To examine the presence of systematic bias in subjective job task analysis methodologies, a survey was conducted on a sample of Royal Australian Navy personnel. The relationship between job task descriptions and participant’s demographic and job profile characteristics revealed the presence of self-serving bias affecting perceptions of task importance.

Reference

Lee-Bates, B., Billing, D.C., Caputi, P., Carstairs, G.L., Linnane, D. & Middleton, K. (2017) The application of subjective job task analysis techniques in physically demanding occupations: evidence for the presence of self-serving bias. Ergonomics. 60(9), pp.1240-1249. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2016.1262063. Epub 2016 Dec 9.

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