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Chapter 3

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University of Toronto St. George
Rotman Commerce

Chapter 3 Perception o the process or interpreting the messages of our senses to provide order and meaning to the environment o some of the most important perceptions that influence OB are perceptions that organizational members have of each other components of perception: 1. perceiver: the perceiver’s experience, needs and emotions can affect his/her perceptions of a target a. experience develops expectations which affects perception b. needs cause us to perceive what we want to perceive e.g. those who are hungry will “see” more edible things in ambiguous pictures than those who aren’t c. emotions can make us misperceive, for example, a friend’s innocent comment d. perceptual defence: the tendency for the perceptual system to defend the perceiver against unpleasant emotions e.g. “see what we want to see” 2. the target: ambiguous targets are susceptible to interpretation and addition a. e.g. writing clearer memos might not always get the message across b. e.g. assigning minority workers to a prejudiced manager won’t always improve his/her perceptions of their true abilities 3. the situation: most important effect the situation can have is to add info about the target a. e.g. if your boss makes a casual comment about how your job performance next week will be related to promotions, you will take this comment differently from how you would if you were not up for promotion Social Identity Theory o people form perceptions of themselves based on their characteristics and memberships in social categories o therefore our sense of self is composed of:  a personal identity (abilities, interests, traits)  a social identity (gender, nationality, religion, occupation, etc.) o we also form perceptions of others based on their memberships in social categories b/c social identities are relational and comparative e.g. category of professor and student A Model of the Perceptual Process o Jerome Bruner’s Model demonstrates 3 important characteristics of the perceptual process: o perception is selective: perceivers don’t use all available cues and those they do use are given special emphasis, which both aids + hinders our perceptual accuracy o perceptual constancy: tendency for the target to be perceived in the same way over time e.g. getting on the wrong foot o perceptual consistency: tendency to select, ignore and distort cues in such a manner that they fit together to form a homogeneous picture of the target Model Example Model Example Unfamiliar target encountered New co-worker Openness to target cues Observation: search for info Familiar cues encountered (enables crude categorization of target Co-worker is Stanford – social identity theory) graduate with good grades Target Categorized Co-worker is “good man” with “great potential” Cue selectivity (perceiver actively ignores/distorts cues that Co-worker’s poor violate initial perceptions, but doesn’t mean that an early performance is ignored or categorization can’t be changed) distorted Categorization strengthened Co-worker is still “good man” with “great potential” Basic Biases in Person Perception Primacy and Recency Effects o primacy effect: tendency for a perceiver to rely on early cues or first impressions o form of selectivity and its lasting effects illustrate constancy o recency effect: tendency for a perceiver to rely on recent cues or last impressions Reliance on Central Traits o central traits: personal characteristics of a target person that are of particular interest to a perceiver o centrality of traits depends on perceiver’s interests + situation o have a very powerful influence on perceptions of others e.g. physical appearance Implicit Personality Theories o personal theories that people have about which personality characteristics go together o e.g. expecting people of average intelligence to be most friendly or expecting hardworking people to be honest Projection o tendency for perceivers to attribute their own thoughts and feelings to others o efficient and sensible perceptual strategy b/c people with similar backgrounds/interests often do think _ feel similarly o can also lead to perceptual difficulties e.g. “sure I steal from the company but so does everyone else” Stereotyping o the tendency to generalize about people in a certain social category and ignore variations among them o 3 specific aspects: o we distinguish some category of people (college professors) o we assume the individuals in this category have certain traits (absent-minded, ivory-tower mentality) o we perceive that everyone in this category possesses these traits o helps us develop impressions of ambiguous targets and helps us appreciate individual differences among group members o not all stereotypes are inaccurate e.g. educational level of the typical university professor o however most stereotypes are incorrect but also help us process info about others quickly + efficiently Attribution: Perceiving Causes + Motives o attribution: the process by which causes or motives are assigned to explain people’s behaviour o important b/c many rewards + punishments in organizations are based on attribution o dispositional attributions: explanations for behaviour based on someone’s personality or intellectual characteristic o situational attributions: explanations for behaviour based on someone’s external situation or environment Implicit Guide to Whether We Should Attribute Behaviour to Dispositional or Situational Causes: 1. Consistency Cues o attribution cues that reflect how consistently a person engages in a behaviour over time o high consistency leads to dispositional attributes e.g. professor who has a lot of office hours really cares about students o inconsistency leads to situational attributions e.g. person’s performance cycle varies b/w mediocre + excellent 2. Consensus Cues o attribution cues that reflect how a person’s behaviour compares with that of others o low consensus behaviour = more dispositional attributions o person who acts differently from majority is seen to be revealing more of his/her true motives o e.g. giving a different answer to a typical interview question 3. Distinctiveness Cues o attribution cues that reflect the extent to which a person engages in some behaviour across a variety of situations o when behaviour varies, it lacks distinctiveness: dispositional attribution, which revelas a person’s true motives Biases in Attribution 1. Fundamental Attribution Error o tendency to overemphasize dispositional explanations for behaviour at the expense of situational explanations o occurs b/c: o we often discount the strong effects that social roles can have on behaviour (we see bankers as truly conservative people) o many people who we observe are in constrained and constant situations that reduces our appreciation of how their behaviour in other situations (e.g. a banker may be a skydiver) o can lead to problems for managers of poorly performing employees o e.g. attributing poor performance to laziness when it is actually poor training Actor-Observer Effect o tendency for observers to view the causes of the actor’s behaviour differently o while observer might be busy committing the fundamental attribution error, the actor might be emphasizing the role of the situation in explaining his/her own behaviour o e.g. price fixing and bribery of gov. officials: perpetrators cite stiff competition or management pressure as excuses Self-Serving Bias o tendency to take credit for successful outcomes and deny responsibility for failures o e.g. if a product is successful, one might attribute it to their retailing savvy but if they fail, they might attribute it to the poor performance of the marketing research firm they use o reflects intentional self-promotion or excuse making Person Perception and Workforce Diversity o workforce diversity: differences among recruits and employees in characteristics such as gender, race, age, religion, cultural background, physical ability or sexual orientation o interest in diversity stems from: 1. workforce is becoming more diverse 2. growing recognition that many organizations have not successfully managed workforce diversity The Changing Workplace o aging of baby boomers o increasing movement of women into paid employment o immigrants making labour force + Canadian population more multicultural and multiethnic o organizations are looking to hire more people who reflect their customer base in an effort to better mirror their markets Valuing Diversity: Competitive Advantages to valuing and managing a diverse workforce 1. Cost Argument - more diverse organizations increases the costs of poorly integrating workers 2. Resource- - companies’ rep. increase as they hire more women and those from Acquisition ethnic minorities, which helps them win competition for the best Argument personnel 3. Marketing - diversity is important for multinational organizations b/c it brings the Argument insight and cultural sensitivity that can improve marketing 4. Creativity - diversity of perspectives + less emphasis on conformity to norms of the Argument
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