Dilla

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Journal of Vocational Behavior 38, 33-48 (1987)

Descriptive versus Prescriptive Information in a Realistic Job Preview BENJAMIN L. DILLA
Air Force Institute of Technology A realistic job preview (RIP) using a prescriptive approach aimed at enhancing newcomer adaptation to the job was contrasted with a traditional descriptive RJP targeted at expectations concerning objective information about the job. In a laboratory experiment, 132 subjects were recruited to work on a clerical task. Participants received neither, one, or both preview(s) in a 2 x 2 factorial design. Analysis revealed strong effects on the manipulation checks and supportive findings for both types of preview on variables measured before task performance. Differences in post-task criteria favored the traditional descriptive preview over the new prescriptive approach. The descriptive preview increased accuracy of expectations for the task and created greater awareness of problem areas and potential coping strategies; furthermore, it irdhrenced quality of performance and turnover intentions. The descriptive approach did not, however, influence task satisfaction, thus calling into question the traditional met expectations hypothesis for RJP effects. (B 1987 Academic press, IIIC.

Realistic job previews (RIPS) refer to presentations given to new employees prior to coming on a job that provide information about that job. Positive effects from giving realistic information to job applicants were first reported by Weitz (1956) in a study with prospective life insurance salesmen. Wanous (1973) coined the term Realistic Job Preview (RJP) to label this technique, which has been applied in a variety of settings including cadets at a military academy (Ilgen & Seely, 1974), sewing machine operators (Fart-, O’Leary, & Bartlett, 1973), telephone operators (Reilly, Tenopyr, & Sperling, 1979; Wanous, 1973), and employees in a retail food store (Dugoni & Ilgen, 1981). This article is based on an unpublished doctoral dissertation from the Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University. The author thanks Howard M. Weiss, Janet L. Barnes-Farrell, and William I. Notz for their assistance as committee members and Daniel R. Ilgen for his guidance as major professor and for his comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. The comments and advice of Dr. Robert P. Steel regarding the preparation of this manuscript are also appreciated. Please send correspondence concerning this article to Major Benjamin L. Diia, Ph.D., who is now assigned to Force Analysis Branch, HQ AFMPC/DPMYAF, Randolph AFB, TX 781504001. 33 OOOl-8791/87 $3.00 Copyri&t Q 1987 by Academic Press, Inc. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.

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BENJAMIN

L. DILLA

There has been little systematic consideration in RJP research of the type of information to include in an RJP and how that information has an effect on the new employee; that is, what type of psychological process underlies RJP effects. In his review of the RJP literature, Breaugh (1983) issued a call for studies that would “examine the hypothesized psychological variables” and provide data relevant to the different models which have been proposed (p. 617). Most previous RJP research has relied on a common sense appeal to the idea of “met expectations.” The met expectations hypothesis (Dugoni & Ilgen, 1981) states that RJPs lower initial expectations and produce higher job satisfaction once employees are on the job and compare their experiences to their expectations. This higher satisfaction subsequently leads to lower turnover. The met expectations hypothesis has also been referred to as the “reality shock” model (Reilly, Brown, Blood, & Malatesta, 1981; Miceli, 1985). Studies using this approach have included in the RJP mostly objective information about the job (nature of the work) or its context (work setting, pay, etc.). In a review of the RJP literature, one previous study appeared to be radically different in the...
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