Chapter 2 Notes
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Lecture Notes ∙ Chapter Two ∙ Personality and Learning
Personality – the relatively stable set of psychological characteristics that influences the way an individual
interacts with his/her environment – how they feel, think, behave – personal style of dealing with the world. It
is determined by genetic predisposition (nature) and by long-term learning history (nurture).
Dispositional approach – an approach to OB that believed that individuals display stable traits and
characteristics that influence attitudes and behaviors. Encouraged the use personality tests to find candidates
with the “correct” personality. This approach has not been completely supported by research.
Situational approach – characteristics of the organizational setting such as rewards and behaviors influence
peoples’ feelings, attitudes and behaviors.
Person–situation debate – on-going debate in OB as to which approach (disposition or situation) is most
effective at predicting and explaining behavior
Interactionist approach (interactionism) – organizational behavior is a function of both dispositions and
situation. Currently the most widely accepted approach to organizational behavior. The importance of
personality or situation in influencing behavior depends upon the nature of the situation.
The Big Five
The Five Factor Model of Personality
There are five basic but general dimensions that describe personality. Consider each factor as a spectrum or
scale from high to low:
Extroversion – outgoing, sociable and talkative vs. shy, withdrawn, avoids social interactions
Emotional stability – emotional control, self-confidence, self-esteem vs. self-doubt, anxiety, depression
Agreeableness – friendly, approachable, warm and considerate vs. cold and aloof
Conscientiousness – responsible, achievement oriented, dependable and positively motivated vs. careless,
impulsive and unreliable
Openness to experience – person thinks flexibly, is open to new ideas, curious and original vs. dull,
unimaginative and favors the status quo
Conscientiousness is the strongest predictor of job performance of all the Big Five Factors. Extroversion has
been positively linked to good performance in management and sales positions.
Conscientiousness positively linked to retention and attendance and negatively related to theft, absenteeism and
Extroversion linked to higher absenteeism
Locus of Control - A set of beliefs about whether one’s behavior is controlled mainly by internal or external
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•High locus of control – belief that one controls their own destiny. Strong belief in free will and self-
•Low locus of control – power in life resides outside self – fate, luck or powerful people
People with high locus of control earn more money, are more satisfied with their jobs, and achieve higher
organizational positions. Perceive less stress, cope better with stress and engage in more careful career planning
Self-Monitoring – the extent to which people observe and regulate how they appear and behave in social
settings and relationships
High self-monitoring employees behave somewhat like actors – they show concern for socially appropriate
behavior, tune in to social and interpersonal cues and regulate their behavior and self-presentation to these cues.
They may have strong communication and persuasive skills. They may have difficulty in ambiguous situations,
may be weak innovators and have difficulty resisting social pressure.
Self-Esteem – the degree to which a person has positive self-evaluation (how well they like them self)
•Low self-esteem people may be uncertain about the correctness of their opinions, attitudes and behaviors
•Low self-esteem people react poorly to negative feedback – it lowers their subsequent performance.
Therefore managers must be careful about using negative feedback with low self-esteem employees.
Also, don’t assign low self-esteems to jobs that entail a great deal of negative feedback and rejection eg.
•High self-esteems experience higher job satisfaction, higher work performance and are more resilient to
the strains of work life
Behavioral Plasticity Theory – people with low self-esteem tend to be more susceptible to external and social
influences than those with high self-esteem
•Since low self-esteem people may be uncertain about the correctness of their opinions, attitudes and
behaviors, they are more likely to look to others for information and confirmation
Positive Affectivity (PA) – tendency to view the world, self and others in a positive light. Generally cheerful,
enthusiastic, lively, sociable and energetic. Positively related to job satisfaction, job performance and creativity
Negative affectivity (NA) - tendency to view the world, self and others in a negative light. Generally
distressed, depressed and unhappy. Associated with lower job satisfaction, lower job performance and higher
levels of workplace stress
Proactive Behavior – taking initiative to improve current circumstances or creating new ones
Proactive Personality – a stable personal disposition that reflects the tendency to take personal initiative across
a range of activities and situations to affect positive change in one’s environment.
•Individuals with high degree of this characteristic show initiative, take action and persevere to bring
about meaningful change. Prefer to control their environment. More likely to find a job, earn higher
salary, receive more frequent promotions and have more satisfying careers
•Individuals with lower degree of this characteristic are likely to be passive and to adapt or react to their
General Self-Efficacy (GSE) – a general trait that refers to an individual’s belief in his/her ability to perform
successfully in a variety of challenging situations
•Considered to be a motivational trait rather than an “affective” trait as it reflects individual’s belief that
he can succeed rather than how he “feels” about him/her self
•Believed to develop over life as repeated successes or failures are experienced across a variety of tasks
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