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Professional development after an individual psychological assessment feedback: From intention to behavioural integration

By Simon Trudeau


Organisational psychologists and career counselors take different actions to encourage clients to develop themselves and further their career. Individual psychological assessment (IPA) is a process in which these practitioners draw conclusions about a candidate’s attitudes, behaviours, competencies and development opportunities. These conclusions are based on information gathered through psychometric tests, interviews and simulations. At the end of this process, a feedback session is set between the candidate and their assessor, where the latter communicates its conclusions and identifies development opportunities for the candidate (Kluger & DeNisi, 1996).

Plunier (2012) has suggested a multidimensional model of IPA feedback integration, based on Ilgen, Fisher, and Taylor’s (1979) previous work on performance feedback acceptance. This model is constituted of three successive steps: cognitive integration of feedback (which includes acceptation and awareness gained from the feedback), intention to act on the feedback and behavioural integration of the feedback (composed of behavioural changes and participation in developmental activities) (Boudrias, Bernaud, & Plunier, 2014; Plunier, Boudrias, & Savoie, 2013). This model is rooted in the theory of planned behaviour, stipulating that the intention to behave in a way determines the behaviour’s actual execution (Azjen, 1991). This tenet was confirmed by Armitage and Conner’s (2001) meta-analysis of 185 empirical studies showing that the best predictor of a behaviour is the intention to behave in that way. While interesting, there are limited work showing that this conclusion could apply in the IPA context neither whether external variables influence the relationship between candidates’ intention to act upon feedback and the actual adoption of behaviour aligned with feedback.

Yet, in his meta-analysis, Sheeran (2002) concludes that many types of moderators may accentuate or reduce the relationship between intention and action. One of them is social support. Indeed, a supervisor, a coach, or a colleague offering resources and advice may amplify the relationship between a candidate’s intention to act and the actual action. To our knowledge, while this has been substantiated in different feedback contexts, no study has been done in an IPA context.

Furthermore, assessors’ intentions when giving feedback may influence subsequent feedback integration and types of action performed by candidates. Even though facilitating candidates’ integration of their developmental needs may be an ideal objective in the feedback, assessors may sometimes aim for more modest targets. For many reasons, they may devote their feedback session to simply making candidates accept the assessment outcomes (e.g. selection decision), without aiming to discuss a development plan. Thus, assessors do not always try to increase candidates’ awareness of their developmental needs.

Part of my ongoing doctoral research is to examine how assessors’ intentions and the candidate’s social support influence cognitive and behavioural integration of an IPA feedback. My model, based on renowned theories in social psychology, also originates from consultations with practitioners who identified assessors’ intentions as critical variables to understand the impact of feedback. This will represent a significant improvement in understanding how and under what conditions an IPA feedback maximizes subsequent professional development.

Implications of this research include improved understanding of how IPA feedback relates to professional development. Results will allow organisational psychologists and career counselors to optimize benefits from their intervention and allow organizations to take advantage of IPA, often done in contexts of selection or development, by linking it to developmental activities. In terms of career counselling, considering IPA feedback as a process intertwined with professional development can help workers to think strategically about long-term career planning.



Simon Trudeau is Ph.D. candidate in work and organizational psychology at Université de Montréal, working under the supervision of Dr. Jean-Sebastien Boudrias. He specializes in psychometrics and individual psychological assessment. His aim is to promote continuous professional development through the use of accurate and rigorous assessment systems.



Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179-211. doi:10.1016/0749-5978(91)90020-T

Armitage, C. J., & Conner, M. (2001). Efficacy of the theory of planned behaviour: A meta‐analytic review. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40(4), 471-499. doi: 10.1348/014466601164939

Boudrias, J. S., Bernaud, J. L., & Plunier, P. (2014). Candidates’ integration of individual psychological assessment feedback. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 29(3), 341-359.

Ilgen, D. R., Fisher, C. D., & Taylor, M. S. (1979). Consequences of individual feedback on behavior in organizations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 64(4), 349-371.

Kluger, A. N., & DeNisi, A. (1996). The effects of feedback interventions on performance: A historical review, a meta-analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory. Psychological Bulletin, 119(2), 254-284.

Plunier, P. (2012). Modéliser le processus d’appropriation du feedback en ÉP pour en optimiser les retombées positives auprès des candidats (Doctoral thesis, Université de Montréal). Retrieved from bitstream/handle/1866/8870/Plunier_Patrick_2012_these.pdf?sequence=4

Plunier, P., Boudrias, J. S., & Savoie, A. (2013). Appropriation cognitive du feedback en évaluation du potentiel : Validation d’une mesure. Revue européenne de psychologie appliquée, 63(2), 87-97.

Sheeran, P. (2002). Intention – behavior relations: A conceptual and empirical review. European Review of Social Psychology, 12(1), 1-36.

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