Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Neuman, George

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Cognitive Abilities Test; Ethnic groups--Psychology; Cross-Cultural Comparison


This paper attempts to develop a model of applicant reactions to cognitive ability tests (CATS), with a specific focus on identifying explanations for African American - Caucasian differences in test reactions and performance. Data from 715 construction trades apprenticeship program applicants were analyzed. As expected, motivation for all applicants was range-restricted, which limited its value in predicting CAT scores. Instead, self-efficacy (S-E) exhibited a stronger relationship to CAT performance and explained a larger portion of the variance in African American - Caucasian CAT scores. Surprisingly, although African American and Caucasian applicants significantly differed in their success expectations and test-taking anxiety, African Americans reported higher S-E and lower anxiety than Caucasians. These findings run counter to past research relating race to S-E and anxiety. Moreover, both African American and Caucasian applicants reported similarly high face validity (FV) perceptions, which also differs from past student-based findings in which African Americans tend to report lower FV perceptions of CATs. In addition, S-E was found to serve an anxiety-reducing function, whereby African American and Caucasian individuals reporting high success expectations experienced less anxiety and performed better on the CAT. The model of applicant reactions to CATs demonstrated good fit to the applicant data. Limitations of the research and implications for use in personnel selection and testing are discussed.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [136]-145)


viii, 147, [12] pages




Northern Illinois University

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