To really understand individuals one must first know how this individual is or what elements have made him who he is and why.
We can begin with personality.
Personality is the set of individual characteristics about a person, it influences behavior. It can be seen when one observes consistent behavior in different situations.
The determinants of the personality are two: heredity and the environment.
There are several theories about this matter:
1. The trait theory: developed by Gordon Allport. He determines 5 traits of a personality, as follows:
a. Extraversion: sociable vs. reserved
b. Agreeableness: warm vs. antagonistic
c. Conscientiousness: hardworking vs. unreliable
d. Emotional stability: calm vs. insecure
e. Openness to experience: creative vs. narrow interests
2. Psychodynamic Theory: created by Sigmund Freud. This theory emphasizes the unconscious determinants of behavior.
3. Humanistic theory: developed by Carl Rogers in 1959. It’s all about the self-actualization: growth + improvement.
Inside an organization there are particular personality traits that influence the most, these are:
• Locus of control: ability to control what happens to you. Internal and external control.
• Self-esteem: your own feeling of self-worth.
• Self-efficacy: your beliefs about you own ability to perform a specific task.
• Self-monitoring: How your behavior is guided by what’s appropriate in every situation.
• Positive/negative affect
It’s our very own way of seeing the world. How do we interpret what happens around us.
We use our senses: touch, smell, eyesight, hearing and taste.
“We see things not as they are, but as we are”
There are three elements that are part of the perception process: The perceiver and the target, and between the two, barriers which are stereotypes, errors and judgment.
Perceptions also play an important role within the organizations. There are some perception principles:
• Selective perception: to support the perceiver’s point of view
• Stereotypes: generalizations
• First-impression error: opinions based on initial experiences
• Projection: overestimating people who share your own beliefs
• Self-fulfilling prophecy: to confirm the perceiver’s expectations
• Impression management: trying to control other’s impressions
What causes certain behaviors?
Internal attribution is what we observe within the person like its personality. External attributions are caused by something outside of the person like the situation in which they’re in.
Inside the organizations we see two forms of attributions:
1. Fundamental attribution error: the attribution to internal causes to someone else’s behavior.
2. Self-serving bias: is about the attribution of success to internal factors and failure to external factors. Which is to say, that when I win is because of me, but when I fail is because of my environment not me personally.
It’s a psychological tendency, favorable or unfavorable. It’s linked to behavior.
How are attitudes formed?
• Direct experience
• Social learning: through family, groups or organizations. Acquiring attitudes by observing others. The process has 4 steps: attention to the model, retention, behavioral reproduction and motivation to learn.
Influencing behavior in the organizations when it comes to attitudes:
• Attitude specificity: general vs. specific attitudes
• Attitude relevance: issues relating to your interests
• Timing of measurement: shorter=stronger (polls vs. voting)
• Personality factors: self-monitoring
• Social constraints: acceptable vs. non-acceptable behaviors
When attitudes and behavior differ, a cognitive dissonance arises. This basically means that our thoughts differ from the way we act.
Values are beliefs about preferable conducts. We have to types of values: Instrumental values. These are acceptable behaviors to achieve goals (ambition, honesty, etc). And Terminal values which represent the goals to be achieved (love, happiness, etc)
Some work values include achievement, concern for others, honesty, fairness, etc.
The Pygmalion effect refers to the phenomenon that when you apply greater expectations on someone to perform, they indeed end up improving their performance. For instance if you tell someone that he/she can do something better than anybody else he/she will eventually end up performing better than the rest who are being neglected.
This has a particular influence on the work place, and inside companies and organizations, because sometimes using the Pygmalion effect can have a positive outcome like improving performance but sometimes it has the complete opposite effect when for instance employees resent the extra pressure or reject it.
When companies engage in international activities that require dealing with different cultures and way of doing things the Pygmalion effect has to be handled with care, for instance in Japan everybody is expected to work as hard as everyone else, so if the company starts to show some sort of favoritism towards a team or an employee to do more or have bigger responsibilities, this may cause some friction with the Japanese colleagues because there everyone is just as capable of taking on any responsibility and the spirit of team work is very strong.
This problem may come up due to the differences in perception of each culture, for instance if the employees of one company tend to have a more relaxed take on the job and their performance, then when they have to work with other companies or teams or people with different perception on how the efficiency and performance should be, then the Pygmalion effect may work, if used correctly, to try and close the gap in perception.
The Pygmalion effect may be a tool to analyze national and organizational culture, it can help to see differences among them, for example it can help us determine which societies place more importance in performance and encourage improvement all the time, and exactly through which techniques they do that. It can also be a way for a company to determine its organizational culture, meaning that if a company still doesn’t have a clear way of getting things done, then the use o expectations can be a good strategy to improve everything within the company, from efficiency to how employees feel working there and their attitudes towards the job and the company. The use of placing greater expectations on employees can also enhance their loyalty to the company because they feel that they are being appreciated there, by being given more tasks to do or greater responsibilities, they feel that they can grow there.
The Pygmalion effect has another influence in culture in terms of race, or social status. Meaning that in societies where white people, for instance, are believed to be the best business men or managers, the managers from this places who are white, tend to be really good at what they do. Or if a society is well known for its quality production or vehicles for example, the major developments are made in this society. This could be explained for the facts that when so greater expectations are placed upon people or such a great level of belief and trust, people tend to respond to it. For instance everybody know or thinks that some of the best engineers come from India, so when an Indian co-worker comes to the company, he is expected to perform better and the attitudes of people towards him, actually facilitates this.