Personality assessment questionnaire as a pre-accession screen for risk of mental disorders and early attrition in U. S. Army recruits

David W. Niebuhr, Marlene E. Gubata*, Alexis A. Oetting, Natalya S. Weber, Xiaoshu Feng, David N. Cowan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Personality assessment tools have been studied as predictors of performance in civilian and military work settings. The Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment System (TAPAS) was developed to improve selection of new military recruits by predicting motivational outcomes such as job effort, physical fitness, and drive to perform at high standards. The purpose of this study is to examine the utility of TAPAS as a predictor of psychiatric morbidity and early discharge in a sample of 15,082 Army, active duty, enlisted, nonprior service recruits. Associations between TAPAS personality dimension score quintiles and mental disorder diagnoses, attrition, and health care utilization in United States Army recruits who took TAPAS in the fiscal year 2010 were analyzed using multivariate logistic regression and log-linear modeling. TAPAS physical conditioning dimension scores were predictive of mental disorder diagnosis and attrition, with TAPAS scorers in the lowest quintile at increased odds of early discharge (odds ratio [OR]: 2.08, 95% CI 1.73, 2.51), mental disorder diagnosis (OR: 1.41, 95% CI 1.20, 1.66) and greater mental health care utilization (1.61, 95% CI 1.46, 1.78) compared with TAPAS scorers in the highest quintile. Results indicated that TAPAS may have an important use as a mental health fitness screening tool for those who wish to serve in the military by identifying a limited high risk group of applicants for mental health diagnostic evaluation. TAPAS may augment current cognitive and educational screens and potentially reduce the burden of mental disorders and premature attrition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-385
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Services
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Job performance
  • Mental health
  • Military health
  • Personality tests
  • Preemployment screening


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