Sportsmanship was an unexpected link between personality, behavior, and teamwork skills in a direct test of the much-debated connection between these concepts. Janet Kottke and Shinko Kimura of California State Univ. created a single survey using questions from assessments of:
The assessment was taken by 593 psychology students. Since they included graduate students, the sample had a mean age of nearly 25, and members averaged six years of work experience.
Behaviors and personality were highly correlated at 0.69, and the two were related to teamwork to the same degree (around 0.39). Links between the factors of the three main concepts were mostly weak, below 0.20. Among those the larger correlations included the following, shown with the factor’s main concept designated with “T” for teamwork, “P” for personality, and “B” for behavior:
As the authors pointed out, agreeableness and conscientiousness were the main factors linking behaviors with personality, though the behavior of sportsmanship added much to the connections between all three concepts. “To be a ‘good sport’ means not complaining when a team meeting is running long or when team plans need to be changed to accommodate changes in the situation,” they wrote. Together with agreeableness, sportsmanship “should lay the groundwork for good team cohesion,” the authors wrote.
A surprise was the low correlation between extraversion and either citizenship behaviors or teamwork. The researchers guess this may be because extraversion would need to be broken into subfactors such as “people-orientation” and “energy level,” as another scientist has suggested. These may operate differently in different team settings and thus have cancelled each other out in the overall averages.
Source: Kottke, J., and S. Kimura (2009), “Assessing Individuals for Team ‘Worthiness’: Investigating the Intersection of the Big Five Personality Factors, Organizational Citizenship Behavior, and Teamwork Aptitude,” in Personality Assessment: New Research, L. Palcroft and M. Lopez, eds. Nova Science Publishers: New York.