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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Notes

Management (MGH)
Course Code
Julie Mc Carthy

of 5
Chapter 2 Personality and Learning Notes
What is Personality?
x personality Æ the relatively stable set of psychological characteristics that influences the way an individual interacts with his or
her environment and how he or she feels, thinks, and behaves
x an individual’s personality summarize s his or her personal style of dealing with the world
x personality consists of a number of dimensions and traits that are determined n a complex way by genetic predisposition and by
one’s long-term learning history, which is often susceptible to change through adult learning experiences
Personality and Organizational Behaviour
x initially, it was believed that personality was important factor in many areas of OB, including motivation, attitudes, performance,
and leadership—this became known as “dispositional approach” because it focuses on individual dispositions and personality
x according to the dispositional approach, individuals possess stable traits or characteristics that influence their attitudes and
behaviours; in other words, individuals are predisposed to behave in certain ways
x however, soon researchers began to shift their attention to factors in the work environment that might predict and explain OB
x this approach became known as the “situational approach”; according to which, characteristics of the organizational setting, such
as rewards and punishments, influence people’s feelings, attitudes, and behaviour
x although researchers argued over which approach was the right one, it is now believed that both approaches are important for
predicting and understanding OB, which led to a third approach known as the “interactionist approach” or “interactionism”
x according to the interactionist approach, OB is a function of both dispositions and the situation; in other words, to predict and
understand OB, one must know something about an individual’s personality and the setting in which he or she works
x this approach is now the most widely accepted perspective within OB
x one of most important implications of the interactionist perspective is that some personality characteristics are useful in certain
organizational situations; there is no one best personality, and managers need to appreciate advantages of employee diversity
x key concept is fit: putting right person in job, group, or firm and exposing different employees to diverse management styles
The Five-Factor Model of Personality
x the Five-Factor Model (FFM) of personality dimensions are:
o Extraversion—this is the extent to which a person is outgoing versus shy. Persons who score high tend to be sociable,
outgoing, energetic, joyful, and assertive. High extraverts enjoy social situations; while those low on this dimension
(introverts) avoid them. Extraversion is especially important for jobs that require a lot of interpersonal interaction, such as
sales and management, where being sociable, assertive, energetic, and ambitious is important for success.
o Emotional stability or neuroticism—the degree to which a person has appropriate emotional control. People with high
emotional stability (low neuroticism) are self-confident and have high self-esteem. Those with lower emotional stability
(high neuroticism) tend toward self-doubt and depression. They tend to be anxious, hostile, impulsive, depressed,
insecure, and more prone to stress. As a result, for almost any job the performance of persons with low emotional
stability is likely to suffer. Persons who score high on emotional stability are likely to have more effective interactions
with co-workers and customers because they tend to be more calm and secure.
o Agreeableness—the extent to which a person is friendly and approachable. More agreeable people are warm, considerate,
altruistic, friendly, sympathetic, cooperative, and eager to help others. Less agreeable people tend to be cold and aloof.
They tend to be more argumentative, inflexible, uncooperative, uncaring, intolerant, and disagreeable. Agreeableness is
most likely to contribute to job performances in jobs that require interaction and involve helping, cooperating, and
nurturing others, as well as in jobs that involve teamwork and cooperation.
o Conscientiousness—the degree to which a person is responsible and achievement-oriented. More conscientious people
are dependable and positively motivated. They are orderly, self-disciplined, hard-working, and achievement-striving,
while less conscientious people are irresponsible, lazy, and impulsive. Persons who are high on conscientiousness are
likely to perform well on most jobs given their tendency toward hard work and achievement.
o Openness to experience—the extent to which a person thinks flexibly and is receptive to new ideas. More open people
tend toward creativity and innovation. Less open people favour the status quo. People who are high on openness to
experience are likely to do well in jobs that involve learning and creativity given that they tend to be intellectual, curious,
and imaginative and have broad interests.
Locus of Control
x locus of control Æ a set of beliefs about whether one’s behaviour is controlled mainly by internal or external forces
x at one end of continuum are high internals, who believe that opportunity to control their behaviour resides within themselves
x at the other end of the continuum are high externals, who believe that external forces determine their behaviour
x externals see the world as unpredictable, chancy place in which luck, fate, or powerful people control their destinies
x internals tend to see stronger links between the effort they put into their jobs and the performance level that they achieve
x in addition, they perceive to a greater degree than externals that the organization will notice high performance and reward it
x since internals believe that their work behaviour will influence the rewards they achieve, they are more likely to be aware of and
to take advantage of information that will enable them to perform effectively
x research shows that locus of control influences OB in a variety of occupational settings
x evidently, because they perceive themselves as being able to control what happens to them, people who are high on internal
control are more satisfied with their jobs, earn more money, and achieve higher organizational positions
x in addition, they seem to perceive less stress, to cope with stress better, and to engage in more careful career planning
x self-monitoring Æ extent to which people observe and regulate how they appear and behave in social settings and relationships
x the people who are low self-monitors are not concerned with scoping out and fitting in with those around them
x their opposites are high self-monitors, who take great care to observe and control the images that they project
x in particular, high self-monitors tend to show concern for socially appropriate behaviour, to tune in to social and interpersonal
cues, and to regulate their behaviour and self-presentation according to these cues
x high self-monitors (HSMs) tend to gravitate toward jobs that require, by their nature, a degree of role-playing and the exercise of
their self-presentation skills, such as sales, law, public relations, and politics
x HSMs perform particularly well in occupations that call for flexibility and adaptiveness in dealings with diverse constituencies
x HSMs tend to be more involved in their jobs, to perform at a higher level, and to be more likely to emerge as leaders
x however, HSMs are also likely to experience more role stress and show less commitment to their organization
x high self-monitoring types would seem to be weak innovators and would have difficulty resisting social pressure
x self-esteem Æ the degree to which a person has a positive self-evaluation
x people with high self-esteem have favourable self-images; people with low self-esteem have unfavourable self-images
x they also tend to be uncertain about the correctness of their opinions, attitudes, and behaviours
x in general, people tend to be highly motivated to protect themselves from threats to their self-esteem
x behavioural plasticity theory Æ people with low self-esteem tend to be more susceptible to external and social influences than
those with high self-esteem; that is, they are more pliable
x events and people in organizational environment have more impact on beliefs and actions of employees with low self-esteem
x this occurs because, being unsure of their views and behaviour, they are more likely to look to others for info and confirmation
x in addition, people with low self-esteem seek social approval from others, approval that they might gain from adopting others’
views, and they do not react well to ambiguous and stressful situations
x employees with low self-esteem also tend to react badly to negative feedback—it lowers their subsequent performance
x organizations will generally benefit from a workforce with high self-esteem
x such people tend to make more fulfilling career decisions, they exhibit higher job satisfaction and job performance, and they are
generally more resilient to the strains of everyday work life
Recent Developments in Personality and Organizational Behaviour
x there are five other personality variables that have been found to be important for organizational behaviour: positive and negative
affectivity, proactive personality, general self-efficacy, and core self-evaluations
x positive affectivity (PA) Æ propensity to view the world, including oneself and other people, in a positive light
x people who are high on PA tend to be cheerful, enthusiastic, lively, sociable, and energetic
x negative affectivity (NA) Æ propensity to view the world, including oneself and other people, in a negative light
x people who are high on NA have an overall negative view, and they tend to be distressed, depressed, and unhappy
x positive and negative affectivity are emotional dispositions that predict people’s general emotional tendencies
x research on affective dispositions has found that people who are high on PA report higher job satisfaction and job performance,
while those high on NA report lower job satisfaction and performance
x employees who have higher PA have also been found to be more creative at work
x people who have high NA tend to experience stressful work conditions and report higher levels of workplace stress and strain
x NA has also been found to be associated with more counterproductive work behaviours (e.g., harassment, physical aggression),
withdrawal behaviours (e.g., absenteeism, turnover), and occupational injury
x proactive behaviour Æ taking initiative to improve current circumstances or creating new ones
x proactive personality Æ stable personal disposition that reflects a tendency to take personal initiative across a range of activities
and situations and to effect positive change in one’s environment
x proactive individuals search for and identify opportunities, show initiative, take action, and persevere until they bring about
meaningful change; while non-proactive people are more likely to be passive and to react and adapt to their environment
x general self-efficacy (GSE) Æ a general trait that refers to an individual’s belief in his or her ability to perform successfully in a
variety of challenging situations; a motivational trait rather than an affective trait
x individuals who are high on GSE are better able to adapt to novel, uncertain, and adverse situations
x in addition, employees with higher GSE have higher job satisfaction and job performance
x core self-evaluations Æ a broad personality concept that consists of more specific traits that reflect the evaluations people hold
about themselves and their self-worth or worthiness, competence, and capability
x people with high positive self-evaluations have higher job satisfaction and job performance
What is Learning?
x learning Æ a relatively permanent change in behaviour potential that occurs due to practice or experience
x the “what aspect of learning can be described as learning content, of which there are 4 primary categories: practical skills,
intrapersonal skills, interpersonal skills, and cultural awareness
x practical skills include job-specific skills, knowledge, and technical competence
x intrapersonal skills are skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, learning about alternative work processes, and risk taking
x interpersonal skills include interactive skills such as communicating, teamwork, and conflict resolution
x finally, cultural awareness involves learning the social norms of organizations and understanding company goals, business
operations, and company expectations and priorities
Operant Learning Theory
x operant learning (OL) Æ learning by which the subject learns to operate on the environment to achieve certain consequences
x these consequences usually depend on the behaviour, and this connection is what is learned
x OL can be used to increase the probability of behaviours and to reduce or eliminate the probability of undesirable behaviours
Increasing the Probability of Behaviour
x reinforcement Æ the process by which stimuli strengthen behaviours
x in general, organizations are interested in maintaining or increasing the probability of behaviours such as correct performance,
prompt attendance, and accurate decision making
Positive Reinforcement
x positive reinforcement Æ the application or addition of a stimulus that increases or maintains the probability of some behaviour
x in general, positive reinforcers (PR) tend to be pleasant things, such as food, praise, money, or business success
x whether or not something is a PR depends only on whether it increases or maintains event of some behaviour by its application
Negative Reinforcement
x negative reinforcement Æ the removal of a stimulus that in turn increases or maintains the probability of some behaviour
x also, negative reinforcement occurs when a response prevents some event or stimulus from occurring
x negative reinforcers (NR) are usually aversive or unpleasant stimuli
x managers who continually nag their employees unless the employees work hard are attempting to use negative reinforcement
x negative reinforcers generally tend to unpleasant things, such as shock, nagging, or threat of fines
x however, negative reinforcers are defined only by what they do and how they work, not by their unpleasantness
Organizational Errors Involving Reinforcement
x managers sometimes make errors in trying to use reinforcement; the most common of which are confusing rewards with
reinforcers, neglecting diversity in preferences for reinforcers, and neglecting important sources of reinforcement
x organizations and individual managers frequently reward” workers with things such as pay, promotions, fringe benefits, paid
vacations, overtime work, and the opportunity to perform challenging tasks
x such rewards can fail to serve as reinforcers because organizations do not make them contingent on specific behaviours that are
of interest to the organization, such as attendance, innovation, or productivity
x organizations often fail to appreciate individual differences in preferences for reinforcers
x in this case, even if managers administer rewards after a desired behaviour, they may fail to have a reinforcing effect
x managers should carefully explore the possible range of stimuli under their control for their applicability as reinforcers
x furthermore, organizations should attempt to administer their formal rewards to capitalize on their reinforcing effects
x there are many reinforcers of organizational behaviour that are not especially obvious
x one important source of reinforcement that managers often ignore is info that accompanies the successful performance of tasks
x performance feedback Æ providing quantitative or qualitative information on past performance for the purpose of changing or
maintaining performance in specific ways; available for jobs that provide feedback concerning the adequacy of performance
x it is 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
x another important source of reinforcement is social recognition
x social recognition Æ informal acknowledgement, attention, praise, approval, or genuine appreciation for work well done from
one individual or group to another; can be an effective means for performance improvement
Reinforcement Strategies
x continuous, immediate reinforcement facilitates fast learning, and delayed, partial reinforcement facilitates persistent learning
x it is impossible to maximize both speed and persistence with a single reinforcement strategy
x often, managers must alter the strategies over time to achieve effective learning and maintenance of behaviour
Reducing the Probability of Behaviour
x there are two strategies that can reduce the probability of learned behaviour: extinction and punishment
x extinction Æ the gradual dissipation of behaviour following the termination of reinforcement
x behaviours that have been learned under delayed or partial reinforcement schedules are more difficult to extinguish than those
learned under continuous, immediate reinforcement
x punishment Æ application of aversive stimulus following some behaviour designed to decrease probability of that behaviour
x a nasty stimulus is applied after some behaviour, decreasing the probability of that behaviour
Using Punishment Effectively
x punishment has some unique characteristics that often limit its effectiveness in stopping unwanted activity
x first, while punishment provides a clear signal as to which activities are inappropriate, it does not by itself demonstrate which
activities should replace the punished response; therefore, punishment only temporarily suppresses the unwanted response
x when surveillance is removed, the response will tend to recur; constant monitoring is very time consuming, and individuals
become adept at learning when they can get away with the forbidden activity
x a second difficulty with punishment is that it has a tendency to provoke a strong emotional reaction on the part of the punished
x this is especially likely when the punishment is delivered in anger or perceived to be unfair
x managers should be sure that their emotions are under control before punishing, and they should avoid it in front of observers