Nowack, K. (1994). Psychosocial Predictors of Health and Absenteeism: Results of Two Prospective Studies. Paper presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, September 1994, Los Angeles, CA

Examined, in prospective designs, the relationship between specific psychosocial factors, absenteeism, and health status. In study 1, measures of stress, lifestyle habits, social support, cognitive hardiness, and coping style were collected for 203 professional employees in a large aerospace organization in 1987. Follow-up measures of self-reported physical illness, absenteeism verified from personnel records, and job satisfaction were collected in late 1988 and 1989 resulting in a final sample of 71.

When adjustments for age, sex, education, and initial illness and psychological well being were made, level of exercise and an avoidant coping style significantly contributed to predictions of self-reported physical illness over a 2 year period. In a series of multiple regression analyses, cognitive hardiness and lifestyle habits significantly contributed to predictions of job satisfaction and absenteeism, respectively.

In study 2, 109 male supervisors attending a stress management seminar in 1987 were administered a comprehensive stress and health risk appraisal (Nowack, 1990). One year later, measures of absenteeism were collected from personnel records. When initial adjustments for age and education were made, an avoidant coping style significantly contributed to predictions of absenteeism in multiple regression analyses. Implications of these findings for employee health promotion programs are discussed.

Nowack, K. (1993). 360-Degree feedback: The whole story. Training & Development Journal, 47, 69-72

Sometimes it takes two or more people to really know one. Here is a well-rounded view of 360-degree feedback systems to help you to develop your own assessment or select a ready-made one.

This article summarizes six major "issues" surrounding the use of multirater feedback and offers concrete suggestions and recommendations for how to effectively implement a 360-degree feedback intervention in your organization. Nowack comprehensively summarizes the major issues in the use of multirater feedback including:

  1. Sources of feedback,
  2. what to measure and the five models used to identify and clarify multirater feedback competencies,
  3. scoring (ipsative versus normative challenges),
  4. confidentiality and anonymity,
  5. providing and summarizing feedback results, and
  6. evaluating the reliability and validity of multirater feedback instruments.

The article provides a checklist and questions for each major issue presented as well as concrete suggestions for "best practices" in the implementation of 360-degree feedback systems.

Schwartz, G.E., Schwartz, J.I., Nowack, K.M., & Eichling, P.S. (1993). The hardiness and the negative affectivity confound as a function of a defensive coping style. University of Arizona and Canyon Ranch. Unpublished manuscript

In recent years, the growing interest in personality hardiness as a mediating variable in the stress-illness relationship has been paralleled by a growing concern that hardiness scales inadvertently measure negative affectivity (NA). Individuals who are high in NA tend to exaggerate somatic concerns and have frequent psychosomatic complaints, although their actual health does not differ from others. Additional research has indicated that individuals with a defensive coping style (i.e., those scoring high on measures of social desirability) report little NA have elevated autonomic and psychophysiological activity (e.g., blood pressure, heart rate).

This study explored the hardiness and NA confounds in both high and low defensive coping groups using a new third-generation cognitive hardiness scale that has been shown to be associated with both objective and subjective measures of health status in previous studies. In the present study, four groups of subjects (N=122) between the ages of 60 and 70 were pretested and retested 3 months and one year after participating in an 11-day intensive preventive health promotion program for the elderly. As part of a battery of psychological and biological variables, measures of cognitive hardiness, NA defensiveness (Marlowe Crowne Social Desirability scale), and psychological distress (SCL-90) were obtained.

For the total sample, cognitive hardiness uniquely contributed to predictions of somatic symptoms and incrementally to interpersonal sensitivity and interpersonal paranoia (cynical mistrust) when controlling for NA in multiple regression analyses. In high defensive coping groups, NA significantly contributed to predictions of psychological distress, whereas cognitive hardiness significantly contributed to predictions of cynical mistrust in low defensive groups. These findings suggest that cognitive hardiness is a unique construct associated with specific aspects of psychological health and that the hardiness and NA confound is more pronounced for individuals with a defensive coping style.

Schwartz, G.E., Schwartz, J.I., Nowack, K.M., & Eichling, P.S. (1992). Changes in perceived stress and social support over time are related to changes in immune function. University of Arizona and Canyon Ranch. Unpublished manuscript

A sizeable literature exists documenting a relationship between perceived levels of stress, social support, and immune function. Little research has examined whether changes in perceived levels of stress and social support are associated with corresponding changes in immune function. In this study , four groups of subjects between the ages of 60 and 70 (group 1, n=31, group 2, n=24, group 3, n=25, group 4, n=30) were pretested and retested 3 months after participating in an 11 day intensive health promotion program for the elderly at a large health resort in Arizona. This 11-day in-house program emphasized lifestyle change behaviors, health education, physical exercise, stress management and relaxation skill building.

As part of a battery of both psychological and biological variables, measures of perceived stress and social support (Nowack, 1990) and percent lymphocytes and monocytes (from CYR blood counts) were obtained, and changes in these variables over the three months were correlated.

For the total sample (n=110), subjects who reported experiencing a decrease in perceived stress over time showed a significant increase in lymphocytes over time (r= -.231, p < .01). This pattern was observed in each of the four groups analyzed separately (r's = -.20, -.39, -.33, -.33).

Subjects who reported an increase in perceived social support over time showed increased monocytes over time (r = .27, p < .01). Again, this pattern was observed in each of the four groups analyzed separately (r's = .19, .30, .26, .33).

Nowack, K. (1993). Assessment center performance and basic skills. Paper Presented at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology National Conference, San Francisco, CA, May, 1993.

This study investigated the relationship between basic skills using the Adult Basic Learning Examination (reading, vocabulary, language and math) and performance in a developmental assessment center for 144 production supervisors. Multiple regression analyses revealed that the basic skills test scores were significantly associated with predictions of overall assessor ratings (OAR) and overall managerial In-basket simulation scores. Basic skills were not found to significantly predict personality (FIRO-B), supervisory evaluations using a multi-rater feedback instrument (Manager View/360) or Self-ratings on the 14 assessment center dimensions. Participant Self-ratings were significantly correlated with OAR (r=.26, p < .01), but not overall supervisory ratings (r=.10, p < .05). The strongest correlations were observed between OAR and supervisory ratings on the communication and interpersonal subscales of the multi-rater feedback instrument used in this study (rs =.31 and .27, respectively, all p's < .01). Implications for future assessment center research are discussed.

Nowack, K. (1992). Self-assessment and rater-assessment as a dimension of management development. Human Resources Development Quarterly, 3, 141-155

In light of mixed findings in the literature regarding the congruence between self-assessment and those provided by others, this study investigated differences between the self-ratings of managers and others (supervisors, subordinates, peers) using an instrument assessing twenty specific management skills areas derived from job analysis procedures (Manager View/360). Data on 335 managers working in several large organizations (health care, aerospace, utility) who recently received feedback were used to compare self-ratings along each management practice skill area,

The results indicated that the amount of agreement between managers and others describing them was moderately low, with correlation coefficients ranging from .122 to .295 (p < .05). Paired t-tests revealed that managers consistently reported practicing specific skills more frequently than did others who rated them across the majority of skill areas. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

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