Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Paul Zak

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Stewart Donaldson

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Stephen Gilliland

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

David Schwartz

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Meghan Smith


Mystery shopping is a form of participant observation in which the researcher poses as a customer, directly interacting with the team members being observed. It a unique performance metric in that it evaluates employees from the perspective of a customer, who is by nature a non-biased observer, and it is an alternative to the traditional performance review that is completed by a manager or agent of the company. The Mystery Shopping Professional Association (MSPA) estimated that $2 billion was spent in the mystery shopping industry in 2018, yet there is scant empirical evidence supporting that mystery shopping interventions result in a marked improvement on employees’ job performance. This study aimed to devise an effective mystery shopping training program for casino blackjack dealers, resulting in a measurable positive outcome for the organization. A positive mystery shopping feedback intervention was developed, focusing on the metrics of job performance, with the positive nature of Appreciative Inquiry served as a model for this intervention. Key concepts in the field of Positive Psychology, namely Fredrickson’s (2004) broaden and build, Dweck’s (2006) growth mindset, Seligman’s (2006) learned optimism, and Seligman and Peterson’s (2004) signature strengths were also considered in its creation. The positive mystery shopping feedback intervention was implemented in a Las Vegas casino (n=50) and assessed for efficacy utilizing measurements of hands dealt per hour at two occasions, spaced three months apart. Individual differences in job knowledge, intrinsic motivation, conscientiousness, and neuroticism were also analyzed. The results revealed no statistically significant increase in job performance across the intervention and control groups; however, the personality trait of conscientiousness was negatively associated with performance improvements at the post-measurement occasion. Though support was not found for the main hypotheses, an examination of the untimely environmental factors provided context for these shortcomings. The implications of this study and future directions for research are presented.