Are you an introvert or an extravert? Do you prefer detail-oriented work or big-picture thinking? Are you motivated to work by a desire for meaning or for financial well-being? What’s your personality type? Such questions appear on workplace personality tests, encountered in management training seminars or in self-help books and business blogs. My recently-defended dissertation, “Personality Incorporated,” examined how management consultants and psychologists developed psychological testing and training techniques to measure and elicit, psychological skills amongst an emerging post-war management class. These management practitioners claimed that cultivating the psychological capacities of corporate workers—their capacity to motivate themselves, think intuitively, and work in teams—would garner economic returns for the corporation and emotional fulfilment for the worker.
My research focuses on the production and circulation of psychological knowledge in corporate management practices. From the personality tests I explore in my dissertation, to corporate wellness programs, to “unconscious bias” training seminars, I am interested in the intersections of psychological techniques, economic value, and identity. I am currently working on a history of corporate diversity initiatives and a history of information technology systems in corporations.