Nature of Individual differences found in organizations The recognition of individual differences is central to any discussion of organizational behavior. Individual differences are the variations from one person to another on variables such as self-esteem, rate of cognitive development or degree of agreeableness. Historically, psychological science has overlooked individual differences in favor of focusing on average behavior. Individual differences have been most often studied in the area of personality development.
All in all, the study of individual differences helps us to understand not only what makes humans similar to one another, but also what makes them different. By considering the variations that can occur from one person to another, we can best understand the full range of human behavior. If you go into any job no matter where you are in the world you will come across a multitude of different personalities and behaviors. An individual’s personality doesn’t just affect the individual, but everyone around them. Managers are responsible for recognizing and treating employees as individuals and not as groups.
There is no way an individual can be treated the same way as the next person because everyone is different. We observe one another’s actions and try to understand what we see, this is known as “reading a person” which may or may not be accurate (Robbins, ; Judge, 2010). Individual behavior is determined by many factors such as environment, culture, beliefs and the quality of life. Attitude is expressed in either satisfaction or dissatisfaction and the interaction between them. If a person has a feeling of unhappiness on the job, it can have an affect in other areas as well such as personal life.
An individual may have discontent on the job due to stress, frustration or feeling alienated. There are many different types of personalities. Personality is the sum total of ways in which an individual reacts to and interacts with others (2010). Managers need to be able to measure personalities in order to make useful hiring decisions and they can do this by giving personality test and evaluating the results. Some strategies that mangers use to measure an individual’s personality is allowing them to rate themselves in a survey.
The weakness in using this method to measure individual personality is that a person may lie on the survey. Another type of method used is an observer rating survey. This method is more accurate than the self report survey because another person will observe and rate an individual’s personality. There are two popular methods that are used to measure personality The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and The Big Five Personality Model (Big Five). The Myers Briggs Type Indicator is the most widely used in the world. Individuals are given a 100 question personality test that asks them how they would react in certain situations.
Based on the results from the test they are rated as an introvert or an extrovert, intuitive or sensing, feeling or thinking, and perceiving or judging person. Management would rate a quiet or shy person as an introvert and a person that is outgoing, assertive and sociable as an extrovert personality. And intuitive person often look’s at the “big picture” and a sensing person has attention to detail and often likes routine and order. A feeling type of person relies on emotion and values and a thinking person uses simple reason to handle situations.
A perceiving individual would be able to handle flexibility and be spontaneous, and a judging individual likes control and often prefers things to be structured. The Big Five method is a research method in which it has five basic dimensions that measure human personality. This method uses five factors which are extraversion a person that is normally timid or quiet, agreeableness which is a person that is trusting and warm, conscientiousness is a person who is responsible and organized, an emotionally stable person is calm and secure with themselves, a person that has openness to experience is artistically creative and sensitive.
Depending on what the individual scores it will determine which type of personality that they have. Managerial Implications of Individual differences Many companies recognize the benefits of employing a diverse workforce and, therefore, focus their efforts on hiring the best, most diverse employees available. Although workplace diversity offers companies many advantages, it also presents challenges for managers. As organizational diversity grows within a company, managers must dedicate much of their attention toward solving diversity challenges and creating a cohesive work environment.
Leaders and managers ultimately determine whether diversity in the workplace is successful by creating effective policies, establishing the organization’s vision and training employees on the importance of diversity. Developing Policies An important element in a company experiencing a growth in diversity is the development and implementation of diversity policies. Developing diversity policies helps managers understand discrimination and the consequences for participating in discriminatory practices.
Developing and implementing diversity policies also helps companies maintain a competitive advantage over competitors who fail to take the same initiative. A successful organization holds its leaders and managers responsible for incorporating their policies and aligning employees with the company’s mission and vision regarding diversity. Communicating the Vision Successful organizations understand that workplace diversity is not simply the responsibility of the human resources department. Executive managers and leaders must communicate the importance of diversity at every level within the organization.
An organization’s leaders can choose to communicate their dedication to workplace diversity using a variety of strategies. Executives may choose to create a department solely focused on the company’s diversity efforts or may choose to issue diversity-focused statements to lower-level staff and the community. The two strategies display an organization’s commitment to workplace diversity. Empowering Employees The increase of diversity in the workplace can present a challenge for the new diverse employees hired and current employees.
Companies use diversity training to empower their employees. According to information on the website of the University of California, Berkeley, training programs build awareness, enhance skills and assist employees in understanding the benefits of diversity in the workplace. Diversity awareness deals with creating a workplace where individuals understand and respect the differences in race, gender, religion cultural values and thinking styles. For example, differences in thinking styles can help teams in the workplace develop a variety of strategies and approaches to solving a problem.
Awareness causes domestic employees to value the process developed by international employees. Diversity training can also help reduce employee conflict within an organization. Training is most effective when combined with other diversity programs and offered to employees on all levels. Evaluating Diversity Progress Many companies use evaluations to measure the effectiveness of its diversity policies and programs. Evaluations commonly measure employee job satisfaction, employee turnover and satisfaction with the work environment.
Some organizations include evaluations as a part of their strategic-planning process. In many cases, employees offer feedback during the evaluation process. Managers can use constructive feedback to improve policies and programs. An aspect of the evaluation process is that it allows employers to reward individuals and groups that follow company guidelines concerning diversity. Employees who fail to follow guidelines are reprimanded. 2. 1 Is it possible to change attitudes Psychologists define attitudes as a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way.
This can include evaluations of people, issues, objects or events. Such evaluations are often positive or negative, but they can also be uncertain at times. For example, we might have mixed feelings about a particular person or issue. Researchers also suggest that there are several different components that make up attitudes. 1. An Emotional Component: How the object, person, issue or event makes you feel. 2. A Cognitive Component: Your thoughts and beliefs about the subject. 3. A Behavioral Component: How the attitude influences your behavior.
Attitudes can also be explicit and implicit. Explicit attitudes are those that we are consciously aware of and that clearly influence our behaviors and beliefs. Implicit attitudes are unconscious, but still have an effect on our beliefs and behaviors. How Do Attitudes Form? Attitudes form directly as a result of experience. They may emerge due to direct personal experience, or they may result from observation. Social roles and social norms can have a strong influence on attitudes. Social roles relate to how people are expected to behave in a particular role or context.
Social norms involve society’s rules for what behaviors are considered appropriate. Attitudes can be learned in a variety of ways. Consider how advertisers use classical conditioning to influence your attitude toward a particular product. In a television commercial, you see young, beautiful people having fun in on a tropical beach while enjoying a sport drink. This attractive and appealing imagery causes you to develop a positive association with this particular beverage. Operant conditioning can also be used to influence how attitudes develop. Imagine a young man who has just started smoking.
Whenever he lights up a cigarette, people complain, chastise him and ask him to leave their vicinity. This negative feedback from those around him eventually causes him to develop an unfavorable opinion of smoking and he decides to give up the habit. Finally, people also learn attitudes by observing the people around them. When someone you admire greatly espouses a particular attitude, you are more likely to develop the same beliefs. For example, children spend a great deal of time observing the attitudes of their parents and usually begin to demonstrate similar outlooks.
How Do Attitudes Influence Behavior? We tend to assume that people behave in accordance with their attitudes. However, social psychologists have found that attitudes and actual behavior are not always perfectly aligned. After all, plenty of people support a particular candidate or political party and yet fail to go out and vote. Researchers have discovered that people are more likely to behave according to their attitudes under certain conditions: * When your attitudes are the result of personal experience. * When you are an expert in the subject. * When you expect a favorable outcome. When the attitudes are repeatedly expressed. * When you stand to win or lose something due to the issue. In some cases, people may actually alter their attitudes in order to better align them with their behavior. Cognitive dissonance is a phenomenon in which a person experiences psychological distress due to conflicting thoughts or beliefs. In order to reduce this tension, people may change their attitudes to reflect their other beliefs or actual behaviors. Imagine the following situation: You’ve always placed a high value on financial security, but you start dating someone who is very financially unstable.
In order to reduce the tension caused by the conflicting beliefs and behavior, you have two options. You can end the relationship and seek out a partner who is more financially secure, or you can de-emphasize the importance of fiscal stability. In order to minimize the dissonance between your conflicting attitude and behavior, you either have to change the attitude or change your actions. Attitude Change is possible While attitudes can have a powerful effect on behavior, they are not set in stone.
The same influences that lead to attitude formation can also create attitude change. Attitudes can change for a number of reasons. It is a key interest of psychologists, advertisers, and more to understand what makes people change their beliefs or opinions. Attitudes most commonly change in response to social influence. What other people do or say can have a huge effect on our own cognitions. The whole advertising industry functions on the knowledge that people’s attitudes toward products or services can be molded through the use of imagery and/or sound.
There are certain conditions that must exist for a person’s attitude to change. Cognitive Dissonance Cognitive Dissonance is a complex theory that explains the discomfort people feel when they hold two conflicting ideas in their head at the same time, and the subsequent cognitions and resolutions that can occur from such discomfort. Attitudes can sometimes change when people behave inconsistently or out of line with the way they normally would behave and they are unable to find external justification for such behavior.
Cognitive dissonance usually occurs when a person does something that goes against the image they have of themselves and they are unable to blame their behavior on external circumstances, so it is essentially dissonance that can cause attitude changes. Counterattitudinal Advocacy The funny thing about the lie you told is that you might start to actually believe it, and like coffee, as a way to resolve feelings of post-decision dissonance. This is called internal justification, which usually occurs when a person is unable to find any external justification for the dissonance they experienced.
Counterattitudinal advocacy is powerful in that it can effectively change a person’s attitude about anything from doing drugs to stealing, as long as they experience the phenomenon in conditions with low external justification. A famous baseball player who chews tobacco may be asked to give a speech at a school about how to stay drug free. The player might feel dissonance about using a dangerous drug himself and could change his behavior to bring it in line with the attitude he conveys to the school children. Persuasive Communications
To make wide scale changes and convince a lot of people to have a certain attitude about something is very difficult. This is the problem that doctors, politicians, lawyers, and other professionals have when trying to get others to share their view. One way that mass change can be orchestrated is through the use of persuasive communication. Persuasive communication is a speech, television ad, or some kind of communication that advocates a particular side of an issue.  Many persuasive communications fail to change attitudes while some are successful.
There are an infinite number of tactics that can be used when making an argument. Yale Attitude Change Created by researchers at Yale University, this is a method of studying persuasive communications. It involves analyzing who is making the communication, the quality of the communication and what kind of people the communication is intended for.  This method of study has produced a lot of information about what makes people’s attitudes change, but it is not perfect. What the Yale Attitude Change approach fails to do is say which aspects of a persuasive communication are more important than other aspects.
For instance, are the arguments made in the communication more important than the person who is making the arguments, or vice versa? Elaboration Likelihood Model The problems with the Yale Attitude Change approach have been addressed by various researchers. One approach is called the elaboration likelihood model , which explains two ways in which persuasive communication can cause attitudinal change. 1. Centrally – When a person is motivated and pays attention to the persuasive communication, they are being centrally affected. 2.
Peripherally – When a person doesn’t pay attention to the arguments in the speech but is influenced by other aspects of the communication such as who is giving it, then they are being peripherally affected. This theory says that people, who are compelled or motivated enough, will pay attention to the persuasive communication, analyzing its arguments in their heads long after they’ve heard the message. This is called the central route to persuasion.  People are likely to take this route when they have little distracting them and they are truly interested in what the persuasive communication has to say.
Those who aren’t motivated to pay attention to the arguments, but are interested in the surface characteristics of a message will not have an attitude change because of logic, but rather because of superficial aspects. This is called the peripheral route to persuasion. If people are not interested in the argument, they will take this shortcut and pay attention to things besides the argument, such as whether or not the person making the argument is prestigious. Some people have a need for cognition, meaning they their personality is one that demands engaging and mind activating activities.
Those with the need for cognition are much more likely to take the central route to persuasion since they like mulling over arguments and facts to reach their conclusions. Long Lasting Attitude Change Both the central and peripheral routes to persuasion would mean little if they didn’t leave some kind of lasting change on a person’s attitudes. Studies show that those who base their attitudes on the arguments are more likely to keep their attitudes for a long time, behave in accordance to those attitudes, and more resistant to counterpersuasion.
Those who take the peripheral route to persuation will quickly lose their new found attitudes and hardly ever behave in accordance to them. This is because the attitudes formed through peripheral routes are often based on fluff that doesn’t mean much to the person, and therefore doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Playing to Emotions To make a persuasive argument, it is helpful to create a communication that plays to the emotions of others. Fear-Arousing Communications A common tactic used when attempting to influence opinion is to scare people with fear-arousing communications.
Fear-arousing communications work best when the speech or advertisement instills the fear but then explains how to avoid/reduce such fear. If the advertisement simply causes fear but doesn’t offer information on how to avoid it, then people will likely dismiss the purpose of the communication. It is also important that fear-arousing communications do not overwhelm people. If the message is too scary, people will become defensive and deny the importance of the threat.  Heuristic-Systematic Model of Persuasion Emotions can act as a signal for how we feel about something.
The heuristic-systematic model of persuasion says that people will either use mental shortcuts or will systematically process the merits of something when they are forming an attitude. One interesting aspect of attitude change is the “How do I feel about it? ”. When we are first forming an opinion of something we might quickly scan our inner feelings to decide whether or not it makes us feel good or bad. The point is that it can be hard to know whether your immediate feelings toward something are legitimate or not. It can take time before a true attitude is developed.
Choosing a Base Some advertisements might work better on certain people but fall flat on others. As mentioned earlier, there are three kinds of attitudes, behavioral, cognitive, and affective. Studies have shown that advertisements are most effective when they target a person’s attitude. If someone has an affectively based attitude, then the advertisement that will work best on that person will play to the emotions. If one had a cognitively based attitude then an advertisement that lists facts would be most persuasive.
Advertisers must therefore design their ads so that it affects the most amount of people. To do this, the advertiser should decide if the product or service they are promoting has people with cognitively, behaviorally, or affectively based attitudes and go from there. Resisting Persuasive Communications Obviously people are able to resist advertisements, speeches, etc. since it would be impossible to accept everything and anything they ever hear and see. But exactly how do people manage to resist persuasive messages?
Attitude Inoculation If people expose themselves to alternative viewpoints on a subject then it will be much easier for them to fend off persuasive communications. By reading up on or making sure they see other sides of an argument then they will be able to fight any attempts people make to change one’s attitude. This tactic is called attitude inoculation.  Product Placement Awareness Companies will pay to have television shows, movies, video games, etc. somehow incorporate their product into the script or scenery.
This is called product placement.  As long as people keep in mind the fact that their entertainment may incorporate things to try and manipulate their behaviors and attitudes, the easier they will find it to notice such product placements for what they really are — advertisements. Staying aware is key. Peer Pressure Resistance Peer pressure is an age old problem in which people, especially when they are young, are susceptible to trying new and potentially dangerous things because their friends or peers urge them to.
Reactance Theory Sometimes prohibiting something can backfire and cause a person to purposefully seek out and do that which is prohibited. The stronger the prohibitions and punishments for doing something, the more likely people will want to do it because they feel their freedom is being threatened. To get rid of any unpleasant feelings of being stifled or restricted, a person will lash out against authority and do what they are told they shouldn’t. This is called reactance theory.