Restricted Variance Interaction Effects

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jose Cortina of Virginia Commonwealth University,  Tine Koehler of the University of Melbourne, Kathleen R. Keeler of Virginia Commonwealth University, and Bo Bernhard Nielsen of the University of Sydney and Copenhagen Business School. They recently published an article in Journal of Management entitled “Restricted Variance Interaction Effects: What they are and why they are your friends,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Cortina reveals the inspiration for conducting this research :]

JOM_44.1_72ppiRGB_powerpointI had read about Mischel’s situation strength notion when I was an undergrad. The idea was that, in strong situations, everyone behaves the same way regardless of individual differences like conscientiousness or extraversion. In weak situations where there aren’t clear norms for behavior, individual differences rule. This phenomenon results in Mischel’s personality by situation interaction such that personality predicts behavior in weak situations but not in strong situations. That made sense to me, and I didn’t giveit much more thought.

Until few years ago. Some of my students were interested in this stuff, so I started reading more about the situation strength hypothesis. Then, as always, I started to question. First, do authors who rely on Mischel’s theory for their hypotheses actually test for variance differences as per the theory? (Spoiler alert-the answer is no, but that paper is under review elsewhere). Second, might it be that this sort of phenomenon goes beyond personality by situation interactions? The more I thought about this second question, the more intrigued I became.

Then I was on sabbatical at the University of Sydney, and I was looking for an excuse to collaborate with Bo Nielsen on something related to international business. It occurred to me that a more general sort of interaction, something that I began calling a restricted variance interaction, was quite common in IB research. So Bo, my longtime partner in crime Tine Kohler, and I published a paper to this effect in JIBS. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that RV interactions went beyond IB. They were, in fact, everywhere, and at every level of analysis, from within person to between country. If we ever start doing interplanetary research, I bet we find RV interactions there too.
We started fiddling with data and equations, and we discovered that there was a lot of interesting stuff going on with these interactions. First, restriction of variance affects unstandardized weights, but not standardized weights. Second, while restriction on the DV weakens prediction as per Mischel, restriction on the IV actually has the opposite effect! Third, restriction on a mediator has no effect on the indirect effect. Fourth, higher order RV interactions are also entirely possible. Fifth, RV interactions have their own testing requirements. And the more we looked in the literature, the more we found examples of these and other RV interaction phenomena. Put all of this together, add my student Kate Keeler to the team, and you have our JOM paper.

This paper is one of three that Tine, Bo, Kate, and I are working on. The more that people look at the field through an RV lens, the easier they will find it to support their interaction hypotheses. My hope is that, through these various papers, we can generate enough interest in RV interactions that it reaches a tipping point such that everyone gets some exposure to the thinking that underlies these phenomena. Then we will see interaction hypotheses with stronger foundations than is currently the case. Here’s hopin’.

 

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