Chapter 2 Review.docx
DepartmentManagement and Organizational Studies
Course CodeMOS 2181A/B
Chapter 2 – Personality and Learning
Personality is the relatively stable set of psychological characteristics that influences the way an individual
interacts with his or her environment. Personality determined in a complex way by genetic predisposition and
by one long-term learning history.
The role of personality in organizational behavior has often been debated in what is known as the “person-
situation debate”. This has led to three approaches:
The dispositional approach
o Focuses on individuals dispositions and personalities
o Individuals possess stable traits or characteristics that influence their attitudes and behaviors.
The situational approach
o Characteristics of the organizational setting such as rewards and punishment influence people’s feelings,
attitudes and behaviour.
o Many studies have shown that situational factors such as the characteristics of work tasks predict job
The interactionist approach
o Organizational behaviour is a function of both dispositions and the situation.
o To predict and understand organizational behaviour, we need to know something about an individual’s
personality and the work setting.
Important implication of interactionist approach is that some personality characteristics are useful in certain
organizational situations, thus there is no one best personality.
The Five-Factor Model of Personality
Five basic but general dimensions that describe personality:
Extraversion – this is the extent to which a person is outgoing vs. shy. Important for jobs that require interpersonal
interaction and where being sociable, assertive, energetic, and ambitious is important for success.
Emotional Stability/Neuroticism – the degree to which a person has appropriate emotional control. Persons high on
emotional stability will have more effective interactions with co-workers and customers as they tend to be more calm
Agreeableness - the extent to which a person is friendly and approachable. Contributes to job performance in jobs that
require interaction and involve helping, cooperating, and nurturing others as well as in jobs that involve teamwork and
Conscientiousness - the degree to which a person is responsible and achievement orientated. Important for job
performance on most jobs given the tendency towards hard work and achievement
Openness to Experience – the extent to which a person thinks flexibly and is receptive to new ideas. Important for jobs
that involve learning and creativity given the tendency to be intellectual, curious, and imaginative.
Locus of Control is a set of beliefs about whether one’s behaviour is controlled mainly by internal or external forces.
(Fate and Luck vs. Self-inititative and free will). Internals are more satisfied with their jobs, earn more money, and
achieve higher organizational positions. Internals perceive less stress, cope with stress better, and engage in more
careful career planning.
Self-Monitoring is the extent to which people observe how they appear and behave in social setting and relationships.
High self-monitors show concern for socially appropriate behaviour and social cues, and they regulate their behaviour
and self-presentation according to these cues. High self-monitors gravitate to jobs that require role-playing and the use
of their self-presentation skills. High self-monitors are more involved in their jobs, perform better, and are more likely to
emerge as leaders. They do not feel comfortable in ambiguous social settings in which it is hard to determine what
behaviours are socially appropriate, they also have less commitment to an organization.
Self-Esteem is the degree to which a person has a positive self-evaluation. Employees with low self-esteem react badly
to negative feedback –it lowers subsequent performance. People with high self-esteem make more fulfilling career
decisions and have higher job satisfaction and job performance.
People who are high on positive affectivity(PA) experience positive emotions and moods and view the world in a positive
light. People who are high on negative affectivity(NA) experience negative emotions and moods and view the world in a
negative light. PA and NA are emotional dispositions that predict people’s general emotional tendencies. People with
higher PA report higher job satisfaction; they have higher job performance and are more creative at work.
Proactive Personality is a relatively stable personal disposition that reflects a tendency to behave proactively. Proactive
behavior involves taking initiative across a range of situations to effect positive change in one’s environment. Proactive
individuals search for and identify opportunities, show initiative, take action, and persevere until they bring about
General self-efficacy (GSE) is A general trait that refers to an individual’s belief in his or her ability to perform
successfully in a variety of challenging situations. Individuals with higher GSE are better able to adapt to novel,
uncertain, and adverse situations. Employees with higher GSE have higher job satisfaction and job performance.
Core Self-Evaluations is a broad personality concept that consists of specific traits that reflect the evaluations people
hold about themselves and their self-worth, competence, and capability. People with more positive CSEs have higher job
satisfaction, life and career satisfaction, and job performance. Individuals with higher CSE perceive fewer stressors and
experience less stress and conflict at work.
Learning is a relatively permanent change in behaviour potential as a result of practice or experience. The practice or
experience that prompts learning stems from an environment that provides feedback concerning the consequences of
behaviour. Employees are able to learn Practical Skills, Intrapersonal Skills, Interpersonal Skills and Cultural Awareness.
Operant Learning Theory
is learning by which the subject learns to operate on the environment to achieve certain consequences. Operantly
learned behaviour is controlled by the consequences that follow it. it is the connection between the behavior and the
consequence that is learned. Can be used to increase probability of a desired behavior or to reduce and eliminate the
probability of an undesired behavior.
Increasing the Probability of Behaviour :
One of the most important consequences that influences behaviour is reinforcement. Reinforcements the process by
which stimuli strengthen behaviours. A reinforcer is a stimulus that follows some behaviour and increases or maintains
the probability of that behaviour.
Positive Reinforcement is the application or addition of a stimulus that increases or maintains the probability of some
behaviour. The stimulus is the positive reinforcer. The reinforcer is dependent or contingent on the occurrence of some
Negative Reinforcement is the removal of a stimulus from a situation that increases or maintains the probability of some
behaviour. Negative reinforcement occurs when a response prevents some event or stimulus from occurring. The
removed or prevented stimulus is a negative reinforcer.
Organizational Errors Involving Reinforcement - Rewards fail to serve as reinforcers when they are not made contingent
on some specific desired behaviour. Managers often neglect important sources of reinforcement such as those
administered by co-workers or intrinsic to the job. Two important sources of reinforcement that managers often ignore
are performance feedback and social recognition.
Performance feedback involves providing quantitative or qualitative information on past performance for the purpose of
changing or maintaining performance. Most effective when it is:
Conveyed in a positive manner
Delivered immediately after observing performance
Represented visually (graph or chart form)
Specific to the behaviour that is being targeted for feedback
Social recognition involves informal acknowledgement, attention, praise, approval, or genuine appreciation for work
well done from one individual to another.
Reinforcement Strategies - For fast acquisition of some response, continuous and immediate reinforcement should be
used. Behaviour tends to be persistent when it is learned under conditions of partial and delayed reinforcement.
Reducing the Probability of Behaviour:
Sometimes learned behaviours are detrimental to the operation of an organization and they need to be reduced or
eliminated. Two strategies that can reduce the probability of learned behaviour:
Extinction is the gradual dissipation of behaviour following the termination of reinforcement. If the behaviour is not
reinforced, it will gradually dissipate or be extinguished.
Punishment is the application of an aversive stimulus following unwanted behaviour to decrease the probability of that
behaviour. A nasty stimulus is applied after some undesirable behaviour in order to decrease the probability of that
behavior. Punishment has some unique characteristics that often limit its effectiveness in eliminating unwanted
behaviour. It does not demonstrate which behaviours should replace the punished response, as punishment indicates
only what is not appropriate. Punishment only temporarily suppresses the unwanted behaviour. Punishment can
provoke a strong emotional reaction from the punished individual.
Social Cognitive Theory
Emphasizes the role of cognitive processes in regulating people’s behaviour. People learn by observing the behaviour
of others and can regulate their own behaviour by thinking about the consequences of their actions, setting
goals, monitoring performance, and rewarding themselves. Human behaviour can best be explained through a
system of triadic reciprocal causation in which personal factors and environmental factors work together and interact to
influence people’s behaviour. According to Albert Bandura, social cognitive theory involves three components:
Observational Learning is the process of imitating the behaviour of others:
-Examining the behaviour of others
-Seeing the consequences they experience
–Thinking about what might happen if we act the same way
–Imitating the behaviour if we expect favourable consequences