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MGHD27H3 Study Guide - Machinist, Social Influence, Reinforcement

Management (MGH)
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Chapter 2 Personality and Learning
(Pages 48-70)
What is Learning?
Learning: A relatively permanent change in behaviour potential that occurs due to
practice or experience.
oPractice and experience rule out viewing behavioural changes caused by
factors like drug intake or biological maturation as learning.
oPractice or experience that prompts learning stems from an environment that
gives feedback concerning the consequences of behaviour.
Primary categories of learning content:
oPractical skills include job-specific skills, knowledge, and technical
competence. Employees frequently learn new skills and technologies to
continually improve performance and to keep organizations competitive.
Constant improvement is a major goal and training can give an organization
a competitive advantage.
oIntrapersonal skills include skills such as problem-solving, critical
thinking, learning about alternative work processes, and risk training.
oInterpersonal skills include interactive skills such as communicating,
teamwork, and conflict resolution.
oCultural Awareness involves learning the social norms of organizations and
understanding company goals, business operations, and company
expectations and priorities.
Operant Learning Theory
Operant Learning: Learning by which the subject learns to operate on the
environment to achieve certain consequences. B.F. Skinner (rats accidentally
pressed lever food pellet was released rats gradually learned to operate the lever
in order to achieve food).
Operantly learned behaviour is controlled by the consequences that follow it. These
consequences depend on the behaviour, and this connection is what is learned.
E.g., salespeople learn effective sales techniques to achieve sales commissions and

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avoid criticism from their managers.
Can be used to increase the probability of desired behaviours and to reduce or
eliminate the probability of undesirable behaviours.
Increasing the Probability of Behaviour
Reinforcement: The process by which stimuli strengthen behaviours.
Reinforcer a stimulus that follows some behaviour and increases or maintains the
probability of that behaviour. Appearance is contingent or dependent on the
occurrence of the behaviour.
Positive Reinforcement
Positive Reinforcement: The application or addition of a stimulus that increases
or maintains the probability of some behaviour.
E.g., a securities analyst who learns to scan financial newspapers regularly because
his or her reading is positively reinforced by subsequent successful decisions.
Tend to be pleasant things, such as food, praise, money, or business success.
However, the intrinsic character of stimuli does not determine whether they are
positive reinforcers, and pleasant stimuli are not positive reinforces when considered
in the abstract. Whether or not something is a positive reinforcer depends only on
whether it increases or maintains the occurrence of some behaviour by its
application. E.g., the holiday turkey that employers give to all the employees of a
manufacturing plant does not positively reinforce anything.
Negative Reinforcement
Negative Reinforcement: The removal of a stimulus that in turn increases or
maintains the probability of some behaviour. The removed or prevented stimulus is a
negative reinforcer.
Also occurs when a response prevents some event or stimulus from occurring.
Usually aversive or unpleasant stimuli. Increases the probability of some behaviour.
E.g., a cage with an electrified floor that periodically shocks a rat => rat accidentally
pulls a lever that turns off the electricity => rat will learn to operate the lever as
soon as it feels the shock.

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E.g., managers who continually nag their employees unless the employees work hard.
The only way employees can stop the aversive nagging is to work hard and be
Negative reinforcers are defined only by what they do and how they work, not by
their unpleasantness e.g., in addition to being a negative reinforce, nagging could
also serve as a positive reinforce to increase the probability of unproductive
responses if an employee has a need for attention and nagging is the only attention
the manager provides.
Organizational Errors Involving Reinforcement
Confusing Rewards with Reinforcers. Rewards may fail to serve as reinforcers if
organizations do not make them contingent on specific behaviours e.g., many
organizations assign overtime work on the basis of seniority rather than
performance or good attendance.
Neglecting Diversity in Preferences for Reinforcers. Organizations often fail to
appreciate individual differences in preferences for reinforcers e.g., rewarding a
workaholic’s extra effort with time off work => assignment of a challenging task
would be more appropriate.
Neglecting Important Sources of Reinforcement. Managers often neglect reinforcers
that are administered by co-workers or are intrinsic to the jobs being performed e.g.,
potentially dangerous horseplay may be positively reinforced by the attention
provided by a jokers co-workers.
oPerformance Feedback: Providing quantitative or qualitative information
on past performance for the purpose of changing or maintaining performance
in specific ways. In some jobs, feedback contingent on performance may be
readily available e.g., mechanics can take the cars they repair for a test drive.
In other jobs, organizations must build some special feedback into the job.
Most effective when it is (a) conveyed in a positive manner; (b) delivered
immediately after the performance is observed; (c) represented visually, such
as in a graph or chart form; and (d) specific to the behaviour that is being
targeted for feedback.
oSocial Recognition: Informal acknowledgement, attention, praise, approval,
or genuine appreciation for work well done from one individual or group to
another. When social recognition is made contingent on employee behaviour it
can result in performance improvement.
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