The Best of the Science of Personality Podcast

A close-up photograph of a studio microphone. In the background, which is out of focus, scattered papers lie across a tabletop. The image accompanies a blog post about the top five episodes of the Science of Personality podcast from its first three years.

After 75 full episodes, several bonus episodes, and three live video episodes, here we are three years after the launch of The Science of Personality with more than 100,000 downloads and an active, engaged listener base. None of that would be possible without you, our listeners. Thank you.

Join The Science of Personality cohost Blake Loepp for this special countdown of highlights from our top five episodes of all time.

Let’s dive in.

5. Personality Change

Episode 35, “Personality Change,” featured Jackie VanBroekhoven Sahm, MS, director of product development at Hogan Assessments. Jackie responds to this question: Given that personality tends to remain stable over time, can people change their personalities?

“People can change their personality,” Jackie said. “But how are we defining personality?” She revisited the differences between identity and reputation and between biology and behavior. “We have to be clear about what we mean when we say yes to that question,” she said.

Another complicating factor in personality change is comparing changes in personality assessment scores to reputational changes. “Even if we could hypothetically change your personality or change your test scores, it’s hard to know if the changes that we see there are based on real change that an outsider could perceive,” Jackie concluded.

Click here to listen to the full episode.

4. Michael Jordan and Leadership Effectiveness

Episode 1, “Michael Jordan and Leadership Effectiveness,” was a discussion between cohosts Blake and Ryne Sherman, PhD, chief science officer at Hogan Assessments. They noted parallels between leadership in sports and leadership in business.

“Michael Jordan was such a well-known personality that he put professional basketball on a global scene,” Blake said. He then asked Ryne to explain the background of why a larger-than-life personality like Jordan’s matters so much in leadership effectiveness.

“Leadership is critical,” Ryne said. “CEOs account for somewhere between 17% and 35% of the variance in firm performance. CEOs and their average tenure in major companies add or subtract up to $40 million in revenue for a business. Who’s in charge of organizations has a huge impact, and there’s all kinds of research now showing this.”

Click here to listen to the full episode.

3. Personality: Frequently Asked Questions

Episode 3 of The Science of Personality, “Personality: Frequently Asked Questions,” also featured Jackie VanBroekhoven Sahm. Jackie responds to this question: How does Hogan compare to other personality assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or DiSC?

“Hogan and tools like Myers-Briggs and DiSC are similar in that they are all personality assessments. That’s where a lot of the similarities end,” Jackie said. She explained that other assessments differ greatly from Hogan’s in how they were developed and how they are applied. “Whereas Hogan has been the first workplace assessment that was designed to predict performance and therefore can be used in selection contexts where you’re making decisions about a person based on their scores, tools like the Myers-Briggs and DiSC are generally not validated for that purpose.”

Hogan’s assessments also differ from others in their underlying theory. “[The Hogan Personality Inventory] is based on the five-factor model of personality, which is one of the most well-researched and robust models of personality out there,” she continued. “What the Myers-Briggs claims to measure is quite different from what the Hogan tools claim to measure.” When we compare the Extraversion-Introversion scale on the MBTI or the outgoing and reserved elements of the DiSC with the Sociability scale on the Hogan Personality Inventory, they cannot be truly reconciled because they are built on different foundations.

Click here to listen to the full episode.

2. Organizational Culture

Episode 37, “Organizational Culture,” features Daniel Denison, PhD, chair at Denison Consulting. Daniel responds to this question: How do you change organizational culture?

“Successful culture change almost always starts with the recognition that the environment that we operate in requires something different today that we don’t have,” Daniel said. “Our behavior is a complex set of habits built up over time, routines that are rooted in past experience, and lessons that we learn. You have to intervene both at that micro level and at the big-picture level of the organization,” he said, adding that there must be a strong connection between executives and front-line workers.

Leaders must take the initiative in implementing change by starting small and nurturing a new mindset, Daniel explained. “The future is moving fast,” he pointed out. “We’ve got to get better as leaders at managing the culture and the transformation process so that you’re not only staying abreast of the changes in the marketplace, but you are the disruptor. You are the one that’s creating the new way of doing things so that everybody else needs to follow you.”

Click here to listen to the full episode.

1. The Dark Side of Personality

The Science of Personality‘s most popular episode to date is episode 4, “The Dark Side of Personality,” which features Peter Harms, PhD, professor of management at the University of Alabama. While most assessments focus on one’s strengths, or bright side, we think understanding one’s challenges, or dark side, is vital in predicting workplace performance. Peter responds to this question: What are common dark-side personality characteristics of leaders?

First, Peter defines an effective leader, pointing out the difference between emergent leaders who tend to network with the people above them and effective leaders who tend to talk to their teams and workers. “Organizations are not very good at detecting dark-side personality characteristics,” he said. “They put these people in a position of power where it’s harder to get rid of them. Quite often what you see with these characteristics is that all their negative actions are downward to the people underneath them, so it can end up producing toxic cultures.”

In certain circumstances, in certain cultures, certain dark-side characteristics can be positive. “We see characteristics like narcissism quite often being associated with becoming a leader,” Peter said. “They’re the ones with their hands in the air first. Moderate levels of narcissism—that’s just confidence, and you definitely need confidence if you’re going to be a leader.”

Click here to listen to the full episode.

What’s Next for The Science of Personality?

Thank you so much for listening to The Science of Personality podcast. We look forward to taking this podcast to another level in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

Listen to these highlights in full on episode 76 of The Science of Personality. Never miss an episode by following us anywhere you get podcasts. Cheers, everybody!