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Foundations of Individual Behavior

Objectives: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Identify two types of ability Dene the key biographical characteristics Understand how to shape the behavior of others Distinguish between the four schedules of reinforcement Clarify the role of punishment in learning


Refers to an individuals capacity to perform the various tasks in a job

Types of Abilities:

Intellectual abilities o The capacity to do mental activities thinking, reasoning, and problem solving Physical abilities o The capacity to do tasks demanding stamina, dexterity, strength, and similar characteristics Description Ability to do speedy and accurate arithmetic Ability to understand what is read or heard and the relationship of words to each other Ability to identify visual similarities and differences quickly and accurately Ability to identify a logical sequences in a problem and then solve the problem Ability to use logic and assess the implication of an argument Ability to imagine how an object would look if its position is space were changed Job Example Accountant: computing the sales tax on a set of items Plant manager: following corporate policies on hiring Fire investigator: identifying clues to support a charge of arson Market researcher: forecasting demand for a product in the next time period Supervisor: choosing between two different suggestions offered by employees Interior decorator: redecorating an office

Dimension Number aptitude Verbal comprehension Perceptual speed Inductive reasoning Deductive reasoning Spatial visualization


Ability to retain and recall past experiences

Salesperson: remembering the names of customers

Nine Basic Physical Abilities Strength Factors Dynamic strength Trunk strength Static strength Explosive strength Flexible Factors Extent flexibility Dynamic flexibility Other Factors Body coordination Balance Stamina

Ability to exert muscular force repeatedly or continuously overtime Ability to exert muscle strength using the trunk (particularly abdominal) muscles Ability to exert force against external objects Ability to expend a maximum of energy in one or a series of explosive acts

Ability to move the trunk and back muscles as far as possible Ability to make rapid, repeated flexing movements

Ability to coordinate the simultaneous action of different parts of the body Ability to maintain equilibrium despite forces pulling off balance Ability to continue maximum effort requiring prolonged effort overtime

The Ability-Job Fit

Job make differing demands on people and that people differ in their abilities Employee performance in enhanced when there is high ability-job fit Poor ability-job fit, employees will likely fail

Biographical Characteristics

Personal characteristics that are objective and easily obtained from personal records



Older workers bring experience , judgment, a strong work ethic and commitment to quality Effect of age on turnover: o The older you get = less likely to quit o Reasons: fewer job opportunities, higher benefits Effect of age on absenteeism: o Older employees = lower rates on avoidable absences Effect of age on productivity: o Unrelated o Reason: some decay due to age, offset by gains due to experiences Effect of age on satisfaction: o Tends to increase among professionals o Tends to decrease among nonprofessionals during middle-age and rises in later years

Race (the biological heritage used to identify ones self)

Some scholars argue that it is not productive to discuss race for: o Policy reason (divisive issue or can cause disagreement) o Biological reason (large percentage are a mixture or races) o Genetics and anthropological reason (anthropologists and evolutionary scientists reject concept of distinct racial categories) Contentious issue: differences exist, but could be more culture-based than race-based Racial differences in cognitive ability tests continues to be hotly debated


No consistent male-female differences in problem solving ability, analytical skills, competitive drive, motivation, sociability, or learning ability Women are more willing to conform with authority Men are more aggressive and more likely to have expectations of success Women with preschool children prefer part-time work, flexible work schedules and telecommuting to accommodate family responsibilities Issue on absenteeism, no significant difference

Other Biographical Characteristics: Tenure (length of service)

Most recent evidence demonstrates a positive relationship between seniority and job productivity Tenure (work experience) appears to be a good predictor of employee productivity

In terms of both frequency of absence and total days lost at work. tenure is the single most important explanatory variable Potent variable in explaining turnover Longer a person in a job = less likely to quit Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior Tenure and job satisfaction are positively related Stable predictor of job satisfaction than chronological age


Islam is especially problematic in the workplace in this post 9/11 world

Sexual Orientation

Federal law does not protect against discrimination (but state or local laws may) Domestic partner benefits are important considerations

Gender Identity

Relatively new issue: transgendered employees


Any relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience Almost all complex behavior is learned A continuous , life-long process Its principles can shape up behavior

Theories of Learning
Classical Conditioning (Ivan Pavlov)

A type of conditioning in which an individual responds to some stimulus that would not ordinarily produce such a response Four Key Concepts: o Unconditioned stimulus a naturally occurring phenomenon o Unconditioned response the naturally occurring response to a natural stimulus o Conditioned response an artificial stimulus introduced into the situation o Conditioned response the response to the artificial stimulus

Operant Conditioning (B.F. Skinner)

The theory that behavior is a function of its consequences and is learned through experiences Operant behavior = voluntary or learned behavior Behaviors are learned by making rewards contingent to behaviors Behavior that is punished or ignored is less likely to be repeated

Social Learning

The view people can learn through observation and direct experience Attributes of models that influence learning: o Intentional the attractiveness or similarity of the model o Retention how well the model can be recalled o Motor reproduction the reproducibility of the models actions o Reinforcement the rewards associated with learning the model behavior

Shaping Behavior

Systematically reinforcing each successive step that moves an individual closer to the desired response A managerial tool

Methods of shaping behavior:

Positive reinforcement rewarding desired behaviors Negative reinforcement removing an unpleasant consequence once the desired behavior is exhibited Punishment penalizing an undesired behavior Extinction eliminating a reinforcement for an undesired behavior

Schedules of Reinforcement Two Major Types:

Continuous reinforcement a desired behavior is reinforced each time it is demonstrated Intermittent reinforcement a desired behavior is reinforced often enough to make the behavior worth repeating but not every time it is demonstrated; multiple frequency

Types of Intermittent Reinforcement:

Ratio depends in the number of responses made Interval depends on the time between reinforcements Fixed rewards are spaced at uniform time intervals or after a set number of responses Variable rewards that are unpredictable or that vary relative to the behavior

Schedules of Reinforcement Reinforcement Schedule Continuous Fixed-interval Nature of Reinforcement Reward given after each desired behavior Reward given at fixed time intervals Reward given at variable time interval Reward given at fixed amounts of output Reward given at variable amounts of outputs Effect on Behavior Fast learning of new behavior but rigid extinction Average and irregular performance with rapid extinction Moderately high and stable performance with slow extinction High and stable performance attained quickly but also with rapid extinction Very high performance with slow extinction Example Compliments Weekly paychecks Pop quizzes


Fixed ratio

Piece-rate pay

Variable ratio

Commissioned sales

Organizational Behavior Modification (OB Mod)

Application of reinforcement concepts to individuals in the work setting

Five steps in OB Mod:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Identifying critical behaviors Developing baseline data Identifying behavioral consequences Developing and implementing an intervention strategy Evaluating performance improvement

Problems with OB Mod and Reinforcement:

It ignores thoughts and feelings It may not explain complex behaviors Stimuli may not be consciously given as a means of shaping behavior

Global Implications
Intellectual Abilities Structures and measures of intelligence generalize across cultures

Biographical Characteristics

Not much evidence on the global relevance of the relationship Countries do vary dramatically on their biographical composition


Again, not much evidence currently exists