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Chapter 2: Perception, Personality, and Emotions
Factors That Influence Perception
Perceptual Errors Attribution Theory Distinctiveness
How Attributions Get Distorted
Why Do Perception and Judgment Matter?
What Is Personality?
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
The Big Five Personality Model
The Dark Triad
Other Personality Attributes That Influence OB
What Are Emotions and Moods?
Choosing Emotions: Emotional Labour
Why Should We Care About Emotions in the Workplace?
The Case for EI
The Case against EI
Negative Workplace Emotions
Global Implications Perception
OB at Work
After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
- Define perception, and explain the factors that influence it.
- Explain attribution theory, and list the three determinants of attribution.
- Describe personality, the way it is measured, and the factors that shape it.
- Describe the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality framework and its strengths and weaknesses.
- Identify the key traits in the Big Five Personality Model.
- Demonstrate how the Big Fine personality traits predict behaviour at work.
- Differentiate between emotions and moods.
- Show the impact of emotional labour on employees.
- Contrast the evidence for and against the existence of emotional intelligence.
- Identify strategies for emotion regulation and their likely effects.
Perception is important in the study of OB because behaviour is based on people’s perceptions of what reality is, not reality itself. Evidence suggests that what an individual perceives about his or her work situation will influence productivity, absenteeism, job satisfaction, turnover, and organizational commitment. Since people act on their perceptions, understanding the factors that affect perception is important in OB. Personality is important to the study of perception because personality characteristics affect one’s perceptions. Employees bring an emotional component with them to work every day, and no study of OB could be comprehensive without considering the role of emotions in workplace behaviour.
It is impossible to cover all the material contained in the chapter during one or two lectures. To deal with this problem, I present my students with a list of study questions to indicate what material they will be responsible for on exams. I tell them that they will be responsible for these, even if the material is not covered in class. I have found that this reduces anxiety overall, and I find it helps to make students aware that not everything in a chapter is required material. I realize instructors vary in their approach, so this is simply my approach.
My study questions for this chapter are
- What is perception?
- What factors affect our perception?
- What does attribution theory tell us?
- What are the shortcuts and biases people use in judging others?
- Why do perception and judgment matter?
- What is personality? What are its determinants?
- Describe the Big Five Personality Model.
- What major personality attributes most influence OB?
- What are emotions and moods?
- Why should we care about emotions in the workplace?
- What is emotional labour?
- What is emotional intelligence?
- How do global differences affect perception, personality and emotions?
SUGGESTED TEACHING PLAN
In this class I go over judgment shortcuts and personality issues through the use of a mini-lecture. We then do a review of students’ personality tests from Exploring the Web (they are asked to fill these out ahead of time) and then collect numbers for each of the different types (Type A, Type B, etc.) This gives them some insights into personality distributions.
Be sure to check the Supplemental Material section for additional material that can be used in class or assigned as homework.
ANNOTATED LECTURE OUTLINE
A. Perception Defined Notes
Perception is the process by which individuals organize and interpret their impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.
Why Is It Important?
- Because people’s behaviour is based on their perception of what reality is, not on reality itself.
- The world as it is perceived is the world that is behaviourally important.
B. Factors Influencing Perception Notes
(See Exhibit 2-1 Factors That Influence Perception)
A number of factors operate to shape and sometimes distort perception.
These factors can reside in the perceiver, the target, and the situation.
- The Perceiver
- When an individual looks at a target and attempts to interpret what he or she sees, that interpretation is heavily influenced by personal characteristics of the individual perceiver.
- The more relevant personal characteristics affecting perception of the perceiver are attitudes, motives, interests, past experiences, and expectations.
Teaching Tip: Ask students to compare their perceptions of the first day of class for two different courses. What factors about them, the target and the situation influenced their perceptions?
- The Target
Characteristics of the target can also affect what is being perceived. This would include attractiveness, gregariousness, and our tendency to group similar things together. For example, members of a group with clearly distinguishable features or colour are often perceived as alike in other, unrelated characteristics as well.
- The Situation
The context in which we see objects or events also influences our attention. This could include time, heat, light, or other situational factors.
C. Perceptual Errors Notes
We use a number of shortcuts when we judge others. An understanding of these shortcuts can be helpful toward recognizing when they can result in significant distortions.
- Attribution Theory
(See Exhibit 2-2 Attribution Theory)
- Attribution theory has been proposed to develop explanations for the fact that when individuals observe behaviour, they attempt to determine whether it is internally or externally caused.
- Externally-caused behaviour is believed to result from the environment.
- Internally-caused behaviour is attributed to those events that are believed to
be under the personal control of the individual.
- Rules about behaviour are based on three rules:
- Does individual act the same way in other situations?
If it is, the observer is likely to give the behaviour an external attribution.
- If this action is not unusual, it will probably be judged as internal.
- Does individual act the same as others in same situation?
- If yes, you would be expected to give an external
- If no, your conclusion as to causation would be internal.
- Does the individual act the same way over time?
- If yes, the observer is inclined to attribute it to internal causes.
Teaching Tip: Point out to students that attribution theory helps one make sense of situations, but that we often tend to blame others more for their “wrongs”, while being convinced when we do something “wrong” it’s because of external factors. Ask them if they have examples of this to share.
- How Attributions Get Distorted
- Fundamental attribution error: This is the tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate the influence of internal factors when making judgments about the behaviour of
- Self-serving bias: This is the tendency for individuals to attribute their own successes to internal factors while putting the blame for failures on external factors.
- Selective Perception
- People selectively interpret what they see based on their interests, background, experience, and attitudes.
- A group’s perception of organizational activities is selectively altered to align with the vested interests they represent. Managers view the organization from their perspective; employees often have a very different view, which is demonstrated in union conflicts.
Teaching Tip: Most students will have had some recent experience with labour strife (garbage strike, postal strike, employees at the university on strike, teachers’ strikes, etc.). Have them discuss the perceptions of the different sides, and how this affected the process of collective bargaining.
- Selectivity works as a shortcut in judging other people by allowing us to “speed-read” others, but not without the risk of drawing an inaccurate Because we see what we want to see, we can draw unwarranted conclusions from an ambiguous situation.
- Halo Effect
Drawing a general impression about an individual based on a single characteristic.
Teaching Tip: This phenomenon frequently occurs when students appraise their classroom instructor. Students may give prominence to a single trait such as enthusiasm and allow their entire evaluation to be tainted by how they judge the instructor on that one trait.
- Contrast Effect
A person’s evaluation is often influenced by other people that we have recently encountered. For example, an interview situation in which one sees a pool of job applicants can distort perception. Distortions in any given candidate’s evaluation can occur as a result of his or her place in the interview schedule.
Attributing one’s own characteristics to other people. Rather than perceiving people as they really are, we judge people as being similar to us.
When managers engage in projection, they compromise their ability to respond to individual differences. They tend to see people as more homogeneous than they really are.
Teaching Tip: This is an opportunity to point out to students that we often assume that people will act the same way that we do, and this is an example of engaging in projection. For instance, if we answer our cell phone every single time it rings, without thinking of the situation first, we may assume that when someone else does not do so, they are being rude, or worse yet, trying to avoid us. Rather, they may have different boundaries than we do about appropriate cell phone use.
Judging someone on the basis of your perception of the group to which that person belongs.
- We simplify a complex world by use of heuristics which are judgment shortcuts and lead to inaccurate generalizations about people.
In organizations, we frequently hear comments that represent stereotypes based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, and even weight.
- From a perceptual standpoint, if people expect to see these stereotypes that
is what they will perceive, whether or not they are accurate.
Prejudice: An unfounded dislike of a person or group based on their belonging to a particular stereotyped group.
- Prejudice can lead to negative consequences in the workplace, particularly discrimination.
- Prejudice usually starts with stereotypes and then has negative emotional content added.
Teaching Tip: An easy way to generate discussion about stereotypes is to ask students to develop a list of characteristics of Arts students vs. Business students. Then have students evaluate how well they themselves fit the “Business student” stereotype and whether their friends in Arts closely fit the “Arts student” stereotype. You can also have them work on the Working with Others Exercise, which has students confront some of their own stereotypes.
- Why Do Perception and Judgment Matter?
There are a variety of occasions where judgment is used in organizations. Judgments may have important consequences. Below are most obvious applications of judgment shortcuts in the workplace. Notes
- Employment Interviews
- Evidence indicates that interviewers make perceptual judgments that affect whether the individual is hired.
- Early perceptions and first impressions, which are often inaccurate, become entrenched.
- Performance Expectations
Self-fulfilling prophecy describes how an individual’s behaviour is determined by others’ expectations.
If expectations are high, employees are not likely to let the manager down.
If expectations are low, performance will likely meet those low expectations.
- Performance Evaluations
An employee’s performance appraisal is very much dependent on the perceptual process.
- Although the appraisal can be objective, many jobs are evaluated in
subjective terms. Subjective measures are, by definition, judgmental.
- To the degree that managers use subjective measures in appraising employees, what the evaluator perceives to be good or bad employee characteristics or behaviours will significantly influence the outcome of the
- What Is Personality?
– The stable patterns of behaviour and consistent internal states that determine how an individual reacts to and interacts with others.
- Measuring Personality
– The most important reason managers need to know how to measure personality is that research has shown that personality tests are useful in hiring decisions.
- Personality Determinants
- Heredity is an approach that argues that the ultimate explanation of an individual’s personality is the molecular structure of the genes, located in the chromosomes.
- The most persuasive research on this comes from studying monozygotic twins who were separated at birth and raised in very different environments. Different research studies with these kinds of twins have determined that genetics accounts for about half of the personality differences in people.
- Personality Traits
- Enduring characteristics that describe an individual’s behaviour such as shyness, aggressiveness, and ambitiousness. The more consistent the characteristic and the more frequently it occurs in diverse situations, the more important that trait is in describing the individual.
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
- One of the most widely used personality frameworks is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It is 100-question personality test that asks people how they usually feel or act in particular situations.
- Extraverted (E) or introverted (I)
- Sensing (S) or intuitive (I)
- Thinking (T) or feeling (F)
- Perceiving (P) or judging (J)
These classifications are then combined into 16 personality types. For example:
- INTJs are visionaries. They usually have original minds and great drive for their own ideas and purposes. They are characterized as skeptical, critical, independent, determined, and often stubborn.
- ESTJs are organizers. They are realistic, logical, analytical, decisive, and have a natural head for business or mechanics. They like to organize and run activities.
- ENTPs are conceptualizers. He or she is innovative, individualistic,
versatile, and attracted to entrepreneurial ideas. This person tends to
be resourceful in solving challenging problems but may neglect
Although the MBTI is widely used by organizations, there is no hard evidence that the MBTI is a valid measure of personality. However, it can be a valuable tool for increasing self-awareness and providing career guidance.
- The Big Five Personality Model
(See Exhibit 2-4 Big Five Personality Factors)
An impressive body of research supports that five basic dimensions underlie all other personality dimensions. The five basic dimensions are:
- Extraversion. Comfort level with relationships. Extraverts tend to be gregarious, assertive, and sociable. Introverts tend to be reserved, timid, and quiet.
- Agreeableness. Individual’s propensity to defer to others. High agreeableness people—cooperative, warm, and trusting. Low agreeableness people—cold, disagreeable, and antagonistic.
- Conscientiousness. A measure of reliability. A high conscientious person is responsible, organized, dependable, and persistent. Those who score low on this dimension are easily distracted, disorganized, and unreliable.
- Emotional stability. A person’s ability to withstand stress. People with positive emotional stability tend to be calm, self-confident, and secure. Those with high negative scores tend to be nervous, anxious, depressed, and insecure and are sometimes classified as neuroticism.
- Openness to experience. The range of interests and fascination with Extremely open people are creative, curious, and artistically sensitive. Those at the other end of the openness category are conventional and find comfort in the familiar.
Research found important relationships between these personality dimensions and job performance.
(See Exhibit 2-5 Jobs in Which Certain Big Five Personality Traits Are
- Conscientiousness predicted job performance for all occupational
- Individuals who are dependable, reliable, careful, thorough, able to plan, organized, hardworking, persistent, and achievement-oriented tend to have higher job performance.
- Employees higher in conscientiousness develop higher levels of job
For the other personality dimensions, predictability depended upon both the performance criterion and the occupational group.
- Extraversion predicted performance in managerial and sales
- Openness to experience is important in predicting training
(See Exhibit 2-6 How the Big Five Traits Influence OB)