Personality Traits and Characteristics

Personality traits mean the basic human instincts or properties, which give every human a unique identity. These attempts to isolate and describe the basic properties of the individual that direct behavior.

Human being posses different types of characteristics. Characteristics are different due to their perception and personality. The popular characteristics are shy, aggressive, submissive, lazy ambitious, loyal and timid etc.

There are fundamentally two major theories-classical and modern which deal with personality traits and which are described below.

1. Classical Theory of Personality Trait: This theory is about 2,000 years old and it deals with emotional equilibrium of a people. Emotional equilibrium was then though to be dependent on the appropriate balance among four fluids within the body. Those four fluids are following:
    • Sanguine (bold)
    • Choleric (yellow bile)
    • Melancholic (black bile)
    • Phlegmatic (phlegm)
Personality was dependent on whichever fluid was dominant. For example, individuals with an excess of blood had a sanguine personality.

2. Modern Theory: Eysenck modernized the classic biochemical theories. The individual temperaments was described as:
  • Exroverion: >> Introversion 
  • Neuroticism: >> Stability
According to Eysenck, Personality is rooted in biology. It is not inherited directed i.e. rather an individual inhabits a particular type of nervous system, which predisposes him to develop in a particular direction. The final shape of an individual's personality is determined by the interaction between his biological disposition and the environmental influences that he encounters in life.

Factors Determining the Personality

Is the personality predetermined at birth itself? Or is it the result of individual's interaction with one's environment? Strictly speaking, there is no clear-cut answer to this question. Different thinkers of personality have listed different determinants of personality. For example, McClelland has categorized them into four fundamental theories (i) Traits, (ii) Scheme, (iii) Motives and (iv) Self scheme.
There are others Scott and Mitchell, who have classified personality determinants into heredity groups and cultural factors. However, several factors influence the shaping of our personality. The important factors are:
  1. Heredity factors: Personality is the aggregates form of traits, qualities and features of human beings. Individuals have unique genes and chromosomes. Most of the characteristics of our parents are transmitted to us through genes and chromosomes. Thus, heredity approach says that personality is the muscular structure of genes.
  2. Environment factors: Not only heredity influence personality. But all our personality is influenced by environmental factors also. As for example, if someone were grown in open society that people have not feeling of shyness in talking with anew unfamiliar people. The children in urban area do not feel any hesitation in talking, discussing with a new unfamiliar people. This is due to the environmental factor. The urban's children are brought up in free society that's why they did not feel hesitation in talking with any one, where as rural children feel hesitate as they are brought up in narrow society.
  3. Situational factor: Another third factor affecting the personality is situation. Situation affects on heredity and environment traits of people changes as per situation. The features of some people changes as per time and situations.
  4. Experience in life: Whether one trusts or mistrusts others, is miserly or generous, has high or low self esteem, and the like is at least partially related to the past experience the individual has had. Imagine if someone come to you to lend him Rs. 1000 which has promised to return in a week's time and you gave it to him even though it was the last note you had in your pocket to cover the expenses for the rest of month. Suppose that the individual never again showed his face to you and you have not been able to get hold of him for the past three months. Suppose also that three such incidents happened to you with three different individuals in the past few months. What is the probability that you would trust another person who comes and asks you for a loan tomorrow? Rather low, one would think. Thus, certain personality characteristics are moulded by frequently occurring positive or negative experience in life.

Personality and Behavior

Personality may be understood as the characteristic patterns of behavior and modes of thinking that determine a person's adjustment to the environment. Personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of those psycho-physical system that determine his unique adjustment to his environment. On the other hand, behavior is the outcome of external stimulus and internal cognitive or mental process. As we know that organizational behavior is the aggregate form of the behavior and employees in the organization. The relation between behavior and personality is a part of overall individual behavior, where as organizational behavior consists of these combine. Both the terms has close relation as both those deals with human nature. 

However, the difference between personality and behavior can be
  • Personality cannot be easily predicted and measured by behavior can be predicted and can also be measured in some extent. 
  • Personality is the source but behavior is the result of every new information received and interpreted by an individual.
  • Personality results behavior but sometime certain behavior shapes personality.
Behavior is resulted from motivation but personality mainly is the result of individual characteristics and the result of situation.

Matching personality and jobs explain that the job given to an individual should fit to his personality. If the given jobs and personality matches, then high performance can be expected from the employee. So, a rational manager should always think of personality of the employee while assigning him any task. Organizations operate in a dynamic and complex environment. They want employees who can readily change tasks and move between teams. They aim for a personality-organization fit. Organization should select those employees who fit better with organization's culture. This leads to high satisfaction and low turnover.

John Holland developed personality job fit theory. He has presented six different personality types and purpose that satisfied and propensity to leave the job depend on the degree of matching personality and the job.

The six theories are as follows:
  1. Realistic: It refers physical activities that require skill, strength and coordination. The personality characteristics of realistic are shy genuine, stable conforming etc. Their matching jobs are former, drill press, operator etc. 
  2. Investigative: It prefers activities that involve thinking organizing and understanding. The personality characteristics are realistic are analytical, original curious, independent etc. Their matching job are new reporter, mathematician etc.
  3. Social: It prefers activities that involve helping and developing others. The personality characteristics are sociable friendly, cooperative, understanding etc. Their matching jobs are teaching, counselor, social worker etc.
  4. Conventional: It prefers rule regulated, ordering and unambiguous activities. The personality characteristics are conforming, efficient, practical, unimaginative, inflexible etc. Their matching jobs are accountant, bank teller, manager etc.
  5. Enterprising: It prefers verbal activities where there are opportunities to influence other and attain power. The personality characteristics are self confident, ambitious, energetic domineering etc. Their matching jobs are lawyer, P/R officer, and small business manager.
  6. Artistic: It prefers ambiguous and unsystematic activities that allow creative expression. The personality traits are imaginative, idealistic etc. Their matching jobs are painter, musician, writer etc.
Thus, if jobs are matched to personality attributes, employee will be more motivated towards the job given to him. Therefore, a rational manager should be very much conscious regarding the type of the job and personality of the employee.


Personality is the major factor that influences individual behavior in an organization. To understand the behavior of an individual or a person, first, it must be familiar about personality. By understanding the personality, behavior can be directed and controlled. Personality does not mean handsome and ugliness of human being. But it is the aggregate form of traits, qualities and features of an individual. It is concerned with reaction and interaction of individual and situation. Thus, personality represents personal characteristics that lead to consistent patterns of behaviors.

Major Personality Attributes Influencing OB
The major personality attributes or traits that influence OB are:
  1. Locus of control: This concept denotes whether people believe that they are in control of events or events control them. Those who have an internal locus of control (internals) believe that they control and shape the course of events in their livers, while those who have an external locus of control (externals) believe that events occur purely by chance or because of factors beyond their own control. Internal, as compared to externals, seek more job related information, try to influence, other at work more activity seek opportunities for advancement and rely more on their own abilities and judgment at work. 
  2. Machiavellians: Manipulation of others as primary way of achieving one's goals is what Machiavellians is all about. Individuals high on the Mach scale, a scale developed to measure the extent to which an individual tends to be Machiavellian tend to be cool, logical in assessing the system around them, willing to twist and turn facts to influence other and try to gain control of people, events and situations by of manipulation the system to their advantage. Machiavellian may fool a few people all the time and all the people for a very short time, but in the long run, they tend to be distrusted and disliked by many in the system and hence may become ineffective.
  3. Self-esteem and self-concept: Self-esteem denoted the extent to which individuals consistently regard themselves as capable, successful, important and worthy individuals. This is an important personality factor that determines how managers perceive themselves and their role in the organization. Self-esteem is important to self-concept, that is, the way individuals define themselves as to who they are and derive their sense of identify. High self-esteem provides a high sense of self-concept; high self-concept in turn, reinforces high self-esteem. Thus, the two are mutually reinforcing. Individuals high in self-esteem will try to take on more challenging assignments and be successful, thus enhancing their self-concept, that is they would tend to define themselves as highly valuable and valued individuals in organization system. The higher the self-concept and self-esteem, the greater will be their contributions to the goals of the organization; especially when the system rewards them for their contributions. 
  4. Tolerance for ambiguity: This personality characteristics indicate the level of uncertainty that people can tolerate without experiencing undue stress and can still function effectively. Managers have to work well under conditions of extreme uncertainty and insufficient information, especially when things are rapidly changing in the organization's external environment. Managers who have a high tolerance for ambiguity can cope well under these conditions.
  5. Risk taking: People differ in their willingness to take risks. Individuals can be high risk taking and low-risk taking. High-risk taking managers tend to make quick decision with less information. However, demands of the job determine the degree of risk taking.
  6. Personality type: Individuals can have type A personality or type B personality. Type A persons feel a chronic sense of time urgency are high achievement oriented, exhibit a competitive drive and are impatient when their work is slowed down for any reason. Type B persons are easy going individuals who do not experience the competitive drive. Type A individuals are significantly more prone to heart attack than type B persons. While type A persons help the organization to move ahead in a relatively short period of time they may also suffer health problems, which might be detrimental to both themselves and the organization in the long run.

Behavior Management / Behavior Modification

Behavior Modification

Behavior modification is the application of reinforcement theory to people in organizational settings. It is simply based on the principle of operant conditioning. According to the reinforcement theory, the frequency of desirable behavior can be increased by an individual as it results to positive consequences whereas the undesirable behavior should be reduced as it is lined to negative consequences. The purpose of this theory is to improve performance. The behavior approach is based on two underlying assumptions i.e.
  • Human behavior is seen as determined by the environment.
  • The behavior is a response to a combination of specific stimuli and other environmental factors such as time and previous experiences.

The various steps involved in behavior modifications are:

Sensation differ from Perception

Concept of Attribution Theory
The perception of people differs from our perceptions because we make inferences about the actions of people that we don't make about inanimate objects.

Attributions theory has been proposed to develop explanations of the ways in which we judge people differently, depending on what meaning we attribute to a given behavior. Basically, the theory suggests that we observe an individual's behavior, we attempt to determine whether it was internally or externally caused.

Sensation differ from Perception
People usually mean sensation and perception the same. But, there is a clear cut distinction between the two. In simple words, sensation may be described as the response of a physical sensory organ to some stimuli. Our physical senses i.e. vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste are continuously bombarded by numerous stimuli that are both inside and outside of our body. Our physical sensory organs often react to these stimuli. The reaction of our eye to color, ear to sound, nose to odour and so on are the examples of our every day sensations. What these examples indicate is that sensation activates the perception. In this way, sensation serves as a raw input to be processed so as to make sense out of them to perceive the environment or stimuli around us.

Perception is much more than sensation. Perception depends upon the sensory raw data, yet it involves a cognitive process that includes filtering, modifying or even changing these sensation raw data to make sense out of them. In other words, the perceptual process adds to or/ and subtracts from the sensory world. A simple instruction may be looking at an object. We see by means of our eyes. Remember, it is not our eyes but what we see and tend to see in its totality, with a figure and form against a background. Thus, we find that eyes activates to see an object i.e. sensation and what is being seen i.e. perception. In this seeing process, though both sensation and perception are involved, yet perception process overcomes sensation process to make what is being seen. Following example will help to understand the difference between sensation and perception more clearly.
  1. You buy a  two wheeler that you think is the best, but not one the engineer says is the best.
  2. A subordinate's answer to a question is based on what he heard his boss says, but not on what the boss actually said.
  3. The same professor may be viewed by on student as a very goods professor and by another student of the same semester as a poor professor.
  4. The same item may be viewed by the manufacturing engineer to be of high quality and by a customer to be of low quality.

Principles of Learning

Learning principles are the proving guidelines in the learning process. The application of these principles assists managers, training instructors and individuals working in the organization to gain knowledge of how to learn and get its benefits to influence behavior. The major principles of learning are as follows:

Effects of Perception on Individual Decision Making

Individual can perceive differently for the same subject in different manner, which lead to the best solution. Every decision requires interpretation and evaluation of information. Data are typically received from multiple sources and they need to be screened, processed and interpreted, which data, for instance, are relevant to the decision and which are not? The perceptions of the decision maker will be the solution for that question.

Since, individual decision making is a crucial part of organization behavior. For instance, top managers determine their organization's goals and about the launching of product or services, the middle level managers on the other hand determine production schedules, select new employees and decide how pay raises are to be allocated and so on. Similarly, even non-managerial employees have to make a lot of decisions which decide the future of the organization. It affects the organization's long-term plans, its quality performance and day-to-day operation. These all show that perception plays a vital role in individual's decision process.

Alternative Decision Making Models
The main approaches to decision making may be studies in the following three dimensions:
1. Classical approach: This is also known as prescriptive, rational or normative model. It specifies how decision should be made to achieve the desired outcome. Under this approach, decisions are made rationally and are directed toward a single and stable goal. It is applied in certainty condition in which the decision maker has full information relating to the problem and also knows all the alternative solutions. It is an ideal way in making a decision. It is rational in the sense that it is scientific, systematic and a step-by-step process. This model assumes the manager as a rational economic man who makes decisions to meet the economic interest of the organization. This model is based on the following assumptions:
    • The decision maker has a clear, well-defined goal to be achieved.
    • All the problems are precisely defined.
    • All alternative courses of action and their potential consequences are known.
    • The decision maker can rank the entire alternatives on the basis of their preferred consequences.
    • The decision maker can select the alternative that maximizes outcome.
The classical model is supposed to be idealistic and rational but it is rarely found in practice. Therefore, this approach has many criticisms. It is known by normative theory rather than descriptive theory. Generally, managers operate under the condition of risk and uncertainty rather than the certainty condition. In many situations complete goal stability can never be realized due to continuous environmental changes. IT is applied only in the close system and not practicable in real life situations where environment is changing rapidly.

2. Behavioral approach: This approach is also known as descriptive approach and administrative model. The theory is proposed by Herbert A. Simon, a well-known economist, in which he attempts to explain how decisions are made in real life situations. Managers have limited and simplified view of problems because they do not have full information about the problems, do not possess knowledge of all possible alternative solutions, do not have the ability to process environmental and technological information and do not have sufficient time and resources to conduct an exhaustive search for alternative solutions to the problems. Therefore, this model is based on two concepts:
  • Bounded Rationality: Simon believed that managers are bound by limited mental capacity and emotion as well as by environmental factors over which they have no control. Real life challenges, time and resource limitations, political pressure and other internal and external factors force the manager to work under the condition of bounded rationality. Therefore, the manager cannot take a perfectly rational decision. 
  • Satisfying: It is the selection of a course of action whose consequences are good enough. Bounded rationality forces managers to accept decisions that are only 'good enough', rather than ideal. Such managerial decisions become rational but within the limits of managers' ability and availability of information. Managers make decisions based on alternatives that are satisfactory. The examples of satisfying decisions are fair price, reasonable profit, adequate market share, proper quality products etc.
3. Implicit Favorite model/Retrospective approach: This approach is applicable in non-programmed decisions. In this approach, the manager first chooses an alternative solution to the problem and highlights its strength, and compare with other alternatives and then identifies its drawbacks. This is done with a view of proving that the alternative selected by him is the best solution to the given problem. However, another alternative which seems to be similar to the implicit favorite is short listed and is taken as second confirmation candidate. This approach can be observed in the purchase of various favorite items in which a customer gives arguments in favor of his choice on the basis of norms such as price, quality, appearance, easily availability, after-sales service etc. to reject other items of same utility.

Internal Factors Affecting Perceptual Selectivity

The internal factors affecting perceptual selectivity are mentioned below:
  1. Needs and Desires: An individual's perception about stimuli is influenced by, inter alia, his needs and desires at that time. Perception varies depending upon variations in his/her needs and desires from time to time. 
  2. Personality: Closely related to the needs and desires is the personality of the perceiver, which affects what is attended or perceived in the given situation. As mentioned earlier, research studies suggest that secure individuals tend to understand or perceive others as warm and self accepting individuals perceive themselves as liked, wanted and accepted by others.
  3. Experience: Experience and knowledge serve as basis for perception. While one's successful experience enhances his/her perceptive ability, failure erodes his/her self-confidence. Successful experience also helps perceiver understand stimuli with more accuracy.
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Perceptual set in organizational settings

Perception is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impression in order to give meaning to their environment. Perceptual set is an expectation of perception based on past experience with the same or similar stimuli. It refers to specific factors within the individual which have a bearing on their attention. It presents a broad view about the environment and people which helps to guide an individual's perception and behavior at work. The sources of perceptual sets are past experiences and contents; past experience are the factors within a perceiver whereas contents are factors outside the perceiver, which shape the perception and perpetual relation of a person.

Meaning of Learning

Concept of Learning

Learning is another important psychological process determining human behavior. It is a term frequently used by people in a wide variety of contexts. Learning is a continuous process. It occurs all the time. Learning is any relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience. We can say that the changes in the behavior indicate that the learning has taken place and that learning is a change in behavior.

In other words, learning may be defined as the process of acquiring, assimilating, and internalizing cognitive, motor, or behavioral inputs for their effective and varied use when required, leading to an enhanced capability for further self-monitored learning. It is a change in behavior through education and training, practice and experience. It is accompanied by acquisition of knowledge, skills and expertise which are relatively permanent. Temporary changes may be only reflexive and fail to represent any learning. If reinforcement does not accompany that practice or experience, the temporary changes in behavior will eventually disappear. It is reinforcement which makes learning or change in behavior enduring by strengthening and intensifying certain aspects of an individual’s behavior. Some definitions are presented by the experts are as follows:

“Learning is the process by which new behaviors are acquired. It is generally agreed the learning involves changes in behavior, practicing new behaviors, and establishing permanency in the change.” – T. R. Mitchell

“Learning is a process within the organism which results in the capacity for changed performance which can be related to experience rather than maturation.” – Ribeaux and Poopleton

“Learning is the process by which an activity originates or is changed through reacting to an encountered situation, provided that the characteristics of the change in activity cannot be explained on the basis of native response tendencies, maturity or temporary status of the organism.” – E. R. Hilgard

“Learning is a relatively permanent change in the frequency of occurrence of a specific individual behavior.” – Hellriegel

From the above definitions, learning may be described as the process of acquiring the ability to respond adequately to a situation which may or may not have been previously encountered, as the favorable modification of response tendencies consequent upon previous experience, particularly the building of a new series of complex co-ordinated motor response; the fixation of times in memory so that they can be recalled or organized; the process of acquiring insight into situation. Thus, learning can be defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior as a result of prior experience.

Learning is any relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience. We can say that the changes in the behavior indicate that the learning has taken place and that learning is a change in behavior. The definition of learning highlights few characteristics of learning:
  1. Learning involves change. This may be good or bad from an organizational point of view. People can learn unfavorable behaviors as well as favorable behaviors.
  2. The change must be relatively permanent. Temporary changes may be only reflexive and fail to represent any learning.
  3. Learning takes place when there is change in actions. A change in an individual's thought processes or attitudes, if accompanies by no change in behaviors and would not be learning.
  4. Some form of experience is necessary for learning. This may be required directly through observation or practice or if may result from indirect experiences such as that acquired through reading. 

Features of Learning

Features and characteristics of learning are as follows:
  1. Leaning takes place when there is a change in actions. A change in an individual’s thought processes or attitudes, if accompanied by no change in behavior, would not be learning.
  2. The practice of experience must be reinforced in order for learning to occur. If reinforcement does not accompany the practice or experience, the temporary learnt behavior will disappear and hence no learning would be there.
  3. Learning involves change. This may be good or bad form an organizational point of view. People can learn unfavorable behaviors as well as favorable behaviors.
  4. Some form of experience is necessary for learning. This may be required directly through observation or practice or it may result from indirect experiences such as those acquired through reading.
  5. Learning occurs throughout one’s life and hence it is a continuous process.
  6. The change must be relatively permanent. Temporary changes may be only reflexive and fail to represent any learning.

Learning is the process of acquiring the ability to respond adequately to a situation which may or may not have been previously encountered. It is an important aspect of personality of an individual. Learning is any change in behavior, resulting from behavior. Learning has its certain process. The process of learning has following steps. 
Process of Learning

1. Acquiring Knowledge or Input 

The first step in learning is the acquiring of new inputs in terms of knowledge and understanding (Cognition); some physical (Motor Activity) or a new behavior (including values and attitudes). Stimuli are basis or initial sources for acquiring knowledge. These are any objects existing in the environment as perceived by the individual. In the workplace, unless the employee understands the messages communicated by the management, he is unlikely to the affected in the appropriate direction as intended by the communication. When this process is quick and clear, learning is effective. 

2. Assimilation or Retention 

The second step of learning process is the assimilation of new input. It should not only be acquired quickly but should also be retained for a length of time. The stability of learned behavior over time is defending as retention and course in forgetting. If input that is acquired is short-lived in the memory, learning will not be effective. 

3. Internalization of New Knowledge 

Effective learning is characterized by the internalization of new inputs. New inputs are acquired from the outside environment. But after these are assimilated, they should become a part of the individual’s personality, lifestyle and psychological words. Internalization also means that inputs get transformed according to the individual’s own psychological and cognitive system. 

4. Application of New Learning 

Once the acquired inputs are internalized, they should be available to the individual for their effective use when the need arises. If what is learnt is only ‘ornamental’ and not effectively used, learning cannot be said to be effective. For example, the learning of management techniques and skills should result in better management of the various activities and fields with which the person works. 

5. Using Learning in all Situations 

Learning should have transfer value. What one has learned in one field, one should be able to apply and use in another field. One should be able to use one’s knowledge and skills in the new situation. This would mean being creative, making one’s own contribution to what one has learnt. Thus, there is continuous enrichment of knowledge and practice. Learning must contribute to this process of development of creativity, generation of new knowledge, development of new field of application and building of new theories and conceptual models. In fact, creativity would also imply improvement of practice with new knowledge and skills, and the development of new knowledge from improved action and practice. 

6. Self-monitored Learning 

Learning should in addition, increase a person’s capability for learning more on his or her own. This does happen in effective learning. After a child has learned to take the first few steps, he learns to walk and balance himself on his own. Similarly, initial learning in a particular field enables a person to organize further learning on his or her own. Without such self-learning, an individual’s growth would remain limited a dependent on external resources.

Factors influencing Learning

There are lots of factors that influence learning. To be more specific, the following are some;
  1. Psychological factors: The psychological factors that influence learning includes an individual's interest, values, perception, beliefs, needs and motives etc. Therefore, the organization must be familiar about individual psychological factors in order to make learning more effective. 
  2. Physiological factors: Another influencing factor of learning are human physiological difference. This includes intelligence, age, sex, and health and memory power. It is well known fact that healthy and intelligent people can learn more than dull and physically unfit people.
  3. Learning method: What are the learning principles and method followed by organization play vital role in learning. So to say, learning depends in organization fund, qualified hired resource person, two way openly communication between trainee and trainer etc. influence learning.
  4. Environmental factors: Environmental factors consist of sound and healthy organizational environment. That is, clean, bright and peaceful environment play a dominant role in learning. The major barrier for learner is noise and air pollution, massive hot weather or cold that influence for learning.
  5. Appropriate feedback system: These should be set of feedback rules to enhance learning. Some examples are, be specific, non judgmental, express your own feeling etc. With the application of these sets of effective feedback, one can learn in the organization.
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Person's Perception

Perception refers to a very complex cognitive process. It is simply a process by which individual organizes and interprets their sensory impression in order to give meaning to environment. Person perception refers to the process by which an individual attribute characteristics or traits to other people. It is concerned with making judgment about other. It relates how an individual perceives other individual. The perception and judgment of a person's actions are significantly influenced by the assumption made about that person's internal state that can be beliefs, motivates, emotions, attitudes etc.

Perception refers to the ways in which a person experiences the world. Perception is the process by which people organize, interpret and experiences the ideas. This process of perception helps us to manage noises, sights, smells, tastes received from the environment and give a meaning to them. Perception is a process that includes both a selection and organizing mechanism. Perceptions vary from person to person. Different people perceive different thing about the same situation differently. But more than that we assign different meanings to what we perceive and the meanings might change one’s perspective or simply make things mean something else.

Perception is the process through which the information the information from outside environment is selected, received, organized and interpreted to make it meaningful to us. This input of meaningful information results in decisions and actions. It is the result of a complex interaction of various senses such as feeling, seeing, hearing, thinking and comparing with known aspects of life in order to make some sense of the world around us. The quality or accuracy of a person’s perception is an important factor in determining the quality of the decisions and action.

“Perception is the phase of operation that takes place after the information being received but one that is well-nigh indistinguishable from it. Though perception has been defined in a variety of ways, it basically refers to the manner in which a person experiences the world.” – Blair J. Kolasa
“Perception is the process of becoming aware of situations of adding meaningful associations to sensations.” – B. Hon Haller Gilemer
“The study of these perceptional processes shows that their functioning is affected by three classes of variables – the objects or events being perceived, the environment in which perception occurs and the individual doing the perceiving.” – H. Joseph Reitz
“Perception can be defined as a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment..” – Stephen P. Robbins
“Perception can be defined as the process of receiving, selecting, organizing, interpreting, checking and reacting to sensory stimuli or data.” - Udai Pareeks
Perceiving social events and people is more difficult and challenging than perceiving physical objects.

Person's perception is concerned with making judgment about other. It is about how one individual perceives other individuals. The best tool used for explanations of person's perception is Kelly's Attribution Theory. It refers to the act of attributing characteristics or traits to other people. Following are the some principles of perceptions:
  • Observations
  • Organizing
  • Interpretation
  • Response
  • Selection
The major characteristics influencing social perception include:
Characteristics of Perception

1. Characteristics of the Person Perceived

Although, the inference we make about someone’s personality should be based upon the behavior we observe, our perceptions are influenced by a variety of the following physical characteristics.

a) Appearance
The appearance of others not only influences how we perceive their behavior, but also influences how we respond to them. We generally assume that people who are dressed in uniforms are professionals or the technical employees performing their assigned functions. Therefore, we tend to respond to them with respect and difference. Hence, whether we respond to others in a polite or inconsiderate manner will be influenced by their physical appearance. Although two people behave identically, we might describe their behavior quite differently if their physical appearances are different. For example, a well-dressed, middle aged man would probably be described as kind and considerate while a poorly dressed person would probably be described as a cruel and impatient.

b) Communication
we can make inferences about the personalities of the individuals by their talking style or way, tone of voice and precision and clarity in the messages communicated. Tone of voice implies whether individuals are happy, sad, angry or impatient. The topics people choose to discuss not only reveal their educational training but also their personal interests and way of thinking. We can also draw numerous inferences from non-verbal communications such as eye contact, hand motions and posture. As sitting up straight, looking the eye and nodding the head in agreement indicate that the person is interested in us and the person will perceive us as being friendly and concerned.

c) Status
Status refers to the level of esteem attributed to individual and is based primarily on the individual’s position in an organizations. Although two people may behave similarly, status differences between them cause us to perceive or to assign different motivations for their behavior.

2. Characteristics of the Situation

The situational content provides added information about person or even stimulus or it can serve as a filter through which only biased observations are passed. The following two situational contents that influence our perception are:

a) Organizations Structure
The level or department of the organization where the event occurred/occurs is a major factor which influences the perception. In a study, it has been seen that executives perception of the most significant problems are influenced by the departments in which they work. For example, production executive or people perceive production problem as most significant while marketing people perceive marketing problems as most significant.

b) Organizational Culture
Organizational culture consists of the shared beliefs among the organizational members about how things are done and what is important. The organizational culture involves a variety of factors in an organizational setting and our perception is influenced by these varieties of factors.

3. Characteristics of the Perceiver

The interpretation and organizations of the environmental stimuli is also influenced by our own following personal characteristics:

a) Cognitive Complexity
Cognitive complexity allows us to differentiate between people using multiple criteria and thereby increases the accuracy of our perception. If a manager uses greater cognitive complexity in his assessment of his subordinates, the results would be more positive and accurate. Cognitive complexity refers to the way people structure their thinking and reasoning. People with high cognitive complexity analyze the situation or the individuals in a more empirical and complex way. The person having low cognitive complexity or cognitively simple individual overlook subtle differences and utilize a very few categories for analysis.

b) Motivational State
An individual’s perception is influenced much by his temporary motives and emotions. People tend to perceive those things much early, for which they have intense desire. For example, when we are angry or emotionally upset, our perceptual processes can be distorted and simple comment by others can be seriously misinterpreted. Fear is another emotional state that tends to influence the perceptions of the perceiver.

c) Self Concept
Self concept means how people perceive about themselves. The research studies have shown that our perception about ourselves has an enormous influence on how we perceive others.

d) Previous Experience
Our past experience also influences a lot about our perception. Although no event may be exactly the same, having seen an event before, conditions us to see the same thing again. From our past experiences, we develop expectations and these expectations influence our current perceptions. This process is referred to as perceptual set. We are set to perceive an event in a particular way.
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Significant of Learning in Organization

Learning is any relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience. We can say that the changes in the behavior indicate that learning has taken place and that learning is a change in behavior. The definition of learning highlights few characteristics of learning:
  1. Learning involves change: This may be good or bad from an organizational point of view. People can learn unfavorable behaviors as well as favorable behaviors. 
  2. The change must be relatively permanent: Temporary changes may be only reflexive and fail to represent any learning.
  3. Leaning takes place when there is change in actions: A change in an individual's thought processes or attitudes, if accompanies by no change in behaviors and would not be learning.
  4. Some form of experience is necessary for learning: This may be required directly through observation or practice or if may result from indirect experience such as that acquired through reading.
  5. Predict behavior of people at work: OB is concerned with understanding, managing and predicting behavior of people at work. The understanding of learning concept offers significant insight to managers for managing employee behavior. the managerial skills such as technical, human and conceptual are learnt, which helps to predict behavior at work.
  6. Human resource development: Learning serves as a key factor for HRD as it enhances skills, competencies and potentials of employee of an organization. Employee learns to face challenges, work on pressure, manage productivity and enhance efficiency through their training and development programmes. Learning fosters desirable behavior and eliminates undesirable behaviors.
  7. Technical adaptation: Technology refers to mechanical and intellectual process used to transfer input to desired outputs. The technology is rapidly changing the use of technology requires skills which employee can adopt through learning. The rapid change in technology has generated new forms of employment relationship such as flexible work hours, virtual offices, contingent work force etc. which can only be coped through the process of learning.
  8. Total quality management (TQM): Learning is significant to enhance TQM philosophy. To implement the TQM, the leader involves employees and enhances their sense of ownership and commitment at work. It directs for the management of people so that quality is involved as the central part of the job. The process requires learning in the organization.
  9. Facilitate organization change and development: The dynamic forces of external environment involves change in organization, it can be terms of globalization, technology, increasing work force diversity etc. A manager and other employee should learn to reconfigure organizations to adapt to such situations. The learning helps to minimize the resistance to change. On the contrary, OB seeks to make system wide intervention with the help of change agents to cope with the changing environment. The success of OB largely depends upon parallel learning structure.
All organization behavior is affected by learning. It plays a vital role on training is organizational setting. It is directly related to their death and survival. The significance of learning is, obviously, for people and organizations. For people, it changes the behavior orientations such as knowledge, skills, values, personality and competency and so on that are essential for achieving organizational goals. In organizational setting, learning is significant for the following reasons:
  1. For effective Human Resource Development: Learning is the key to developing skills and potential of employees. Training in organizations aims at learning. Managers can foster desirable behavior and check undesirable behaviors through training. Learning also helps managers developed effective training programmes.
  2. To Understand and predict behavior of the people at work: One of the objectives in the field of organizational behavior is to understand and predict behaviors of people at work, different rules and skills of managers are acquired through learning. If managers need to be effective, they should play roles and have skills. Without learning experience, it is difficult to manage and people in organization.
  3. To facilitate organizational change and development: Leaning facilitates organizational change and development. There are different forces in the external environment for change in the organizations. Some of these forces are globalization, technology and demographics. Such changes force managers and workers to learn to reconfigure organizations to adapt to such situations.
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Role of Learning in Organization

Learning in Organization
Learning is a continuous process. It occurs all the time. Learning is any relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience. Learning is not only important to employee but also it is important for managers. It plays a vital role on training in organizational settings. It assists in optimally developing the talents and for effective performance. They guide the employees to engage the management to accomplish the goals. By means of learning, employees get confidence at work. Similarly, employee's behavior can be changed to improve their job performance, knowledge about work, attitudes, values and ethics of profession etc. On the other hand learning is not only important for organization and employee. But also it helps in social enlistment. Learned and cited workers extend the social reputations of organization. It can extend the brand loyalty of customers towards organizational product.

In simple words, learning is any relatively permanent change in behavior that results from reinforced practices or experience. It is very essential component in both human and organizational lives. It is a cognitive, effective and physical process as all complex process and behaviors are learnt.

The important characteristics of learning includes:
  • Learning involves change: The process of learning initiates change in an individual which can be desirable or undesirable from organization point of view. Favorable and unfavorable behaviors may be learnt during learning process.
  • The change should be relatively permanent: The temporary change in an individual resulting to reflexive behavior for certain period doesn't involve learning. It requires permanent change through reinforcement.
  • Learning results change in action: Learning involves change in action. If the change in individual's thought processes or attitudes doesn't change the behavior, it can't be termed as learning.
  • Experiences initiates learning: Experiences acquired directly through observation and practice or indirectly through books and conscious attention initiate the learning process.
Organizations need people with learning capacity to adopt and cope to the changing dynamic environment. Learning is directly related to the development, maintenance and change of employee work behavior. an organization should deploy individual who are intelligent, knowledgeable, creative and are directed to achieve goals through intense learning process. Apart from learning to work through training and development, an individuals should learn norms and values of organizational culture. Thus, learning brings permanent change in behavior and mind set of an individual which is directly or indirectly related to OB in terms of increasing competency, self efficiency, HRD (Human Resource Development), behavioral change, leadership ability, technological adaptation, change management etc.
Cognitive Theory
This theory was given by Edward Tolman. He held that learning involved a relationship between cognitive environment cues and expectations. Cognition implies a conscious or deliberate process of acquiring knowledge through perceiving, imaging, thinking and reasoning. The theory implies learning as a purely an outcome of the thinking process and the act of knowing an item of information that cues to respond the expected goal. The theory was developed after experimentation on rats in laboratory. He showed that rats learned to run through complicated maze towards a goal (food), it was observed that rats developed expectations at every choice point in the maze. Thus, they learned to expect that certain cognitive cues related to the choice point could ultimately lead to food. In this situation, where rats got the food, the relationship between the cues and expectancy was strengthened and learning took place. The theory differs from classical conditioning (S --> R) and operant conditioning (R --> S) theories as the theory emphasizes learning is the result of relation between cues and expectancy (S --> S). The impact of theory on organization setting includes great impact on the human relation movement and motivation of employee at which with the establishment of relation between cognition and organizational behavior. 

Tolman approach is also called as stimulus-stimulus approach. These experiments embarrassed the behaviorist learning theories. Reinforcement failed to predict rats behavior and it was no longer a prerequisite to learning. One stimulus lead to another stimulus rather than classical S-R or operant R-S interpretation. Indeed the rat behavior was purposive. In other words, they learned a cognitive map to determine how to reach food.

Tolman made significant contributions to learning theory by forcing the behavioristic theory to evolve highly complex explanation of behavior and indicating the need to include cognition in a mediating role between the environmental stimulus and the behavior. These theories exerted a strong effect on early human relation movement.

Implication of Cognitive Learning Theory
Cognitive theory of learning has a number of implications. Tolman made significant contribution to learning theory by forcing the behaviroristic theorist to evolve highly complex explanation of behavior and indicating the need to include cognition in a mediating role between the environmental stimulus and the behavior. Most of the early human relations training programmes were based on this concept. Various training programmes were designed to strengthen the relationship between cognitive cues (organizational, supervisory, and job procedures) and worker expectations (incentive payments for good performance). In the context of the modern organizational behavior, this theory has relevance in the field of motivation as it is a cognitive process. Thus, various expectancy theories of motivation derive clues from cognitive theory of learning. These theories exerted a strong effect on early human relations movement.

Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory was developed by A. Bandura in 1977. This theory combines and integrates both behavioristic and cognitive concepts and emphasizes the integrative nature of cognitive, behavioral and environmental determinants. This theory agrees with some parts of behavioral and cognitive theories but finds that these theories do not explain the process and elements therein fully. It posits that learning can also take place via vicarious or modeling. In other words, individuals can also learn by observing what is happening to other people and just by hearing told about something as well as by direct experiences. For example, what we learn comes from watching models i.e., our parents, teachers, peers, superiors and so forth.

Social learning theory is an extension of operant conditioning that is a function of consequences. It also acknowledges the existence of observational learning and the importance of perception in learning. People respond to how they perceive and define consequences, not to the objective consequences themselves.

The theory states the combination of cognitive, behavioral and impact of environmental forces in learning. Individuals can also learn by observing what happens to other people and just by being told about something as well as by direct experiences. The learning occurs by observing other and modelling the behavior that leads to favorable consequences. It accounts for behavioral modeling approach to learning as people can learn from watching their seniors, parents, models, teachers, peers, superiors and so forth.

This theory combines and integrates operant conditioning and cognitive theories. the operant conditioning assumes behavior as the function of consequences and the cognitive theory focuses in the factor of how people perceive and define consequences for learning process rather than the consequences themselves. 

While social learning theory is an extension of operant conditioning i.e. it assumes that behavior is a function of consequences. It also acknowledges the existence of observational learning and the importance of perception in learning. People respond to how they perceive and define consequences, not to the objective consequences themselves.

The influence of model is central to the social learning view point. Four processes have been found to determine the influence that a model will have on an individual. These are:
  1. Attention process: People only learn form a model when they recognize and pay attention to its critical features. We tend to be most influenced by models that are attractive, repeatedly available and we think are important or we see as similar to us. In other words, the degree and intensity of attention paid influence the process of learning.
  2. Retention process: A model's influence will depend on how well the individual remembers the model's action, even after the model is no longer readily available.
  3. Motor reproduction process: After a person has seen a new behavior by observing the model, the watching must be converted to doing. This process then demonstrates that the individual can perform the modeled activities. Thus, the watching of modeled activities must be practically performed and demonstrated to initiate learning.
  4. Reinforcement processes: Every individuals will be motivated to exhibit the modeled behavior, if positive incentives or records are provided. Behaviors that are reinforced will be given more attention, learned better and performed more often.
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Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning theory was developed by B. F. Skinner. This theory is also known as behavioral modification and reinforcement theory. The theory states that the conditioning of behavior leads to reward or prevent punishment. People learn to behave in various ways as a result of its consequences. The theory is based on Response --> Stimulus connection (R --> S). It involves reinforcement of reward for desired behavior as a central process in learning. The theory can be explained on the basis of ABC of behavior modification. According to this theory (B) Behavior is influenced by two environmental forces. i.e. antecedents (A) and Consequences (C). Antecedents are events that precede the behavior where as consequences follow the behavior. The theory implies "the likelihood that an operant behavior will be repeated depends upon its consequences". That results an individual to learn the behavior followed by pleasant experiences only.

Operant is defined as behavior that produces effects. Operant conditioning given by Skinner suggests that individuals emit responses that are rewarded and will not emit responses that are either not rewarded or are punished. Operant conditioning is a voluntary behavior and it is determined, maintained and controlled by its consequences. In contract, respondent behavior is an involuntary response to an environmental stimulus.

Operant conditioning acts on environment to produce consequences. It is basically assumed that man's behavior is determined by environment and individuals learn by producing alternation in their environment. Operant conditioning pre-supposes that human beings explore their environment and act upon. In classical conditioning the sequence of event is independent of subject's behavior. In operant, conditioning reinforcement is given only when the correct response is made. According to Skinner, the consequences determine the likelihood that the given operant will be performed in the future. To change behavior, the consequences of that behavior must be changed.

Operant conditioning is a powerful tool for managing people in organization. Most behavior in organizations are learned, controlled and altered by the consequences, i.e. operant behaviors. Management can use the operant conditioning process successfully to control and influence the behavior of the employees by manipulating its reward system. If one expects to influence behavior, he/she must also be able to manipulate the consequences.

In operant conditioning, reinforcement is given only when the correct response is made. According to Skinner, the consequences determine the likelihood that the given operant will be performed in the future. To change behavior, the consequences of that behavior must be changed. Operant conditioning is a powerful tool for managing people in organizations. Most behaviors in organizations are learnt, controlled and altered by the conditioning process successfully to control and influence the behavior of the employees by manipulating its reward system. If one expects to influence behavior, he must also be able to manipulate the consequences.

Operant conditioning theory also called as instrumental theory. It’s shows relationship between three elements:
  1. Stimulus situation (important events in the situation)
  2. Behavioral response to the situation, and
  3. Consequence of the response to the person. A simple example of the operant behavior is the application of brake by a vehicle driver to avoid accident.
For example:

Response (R) --> Stimulus (R)

Implication of Operant Conditioning

Most of the behaviors in the organizations are learned, controlled and altered by consequences. Management can use operant conditioning process successfully to control and influence the behavior of employees by designing suitable reward or punishment system.

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Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is a type of conditioning where an individual responds to some stimulus that would not invariably produce such a response. Classical conditioning grew out of experience to teach dogs to salivate in response to ringing of the bell, conducted by Russian psychologist, Ivan Pavlov. The theory is used in organization to understand how an individual learn to respond only to conditioned stimulus when it is tied with a non-conditioned stimulus. The theory can be explained on the basis of experiment conducted by Pavlov on a dog stated as below:

  • The dog was offered piece of meat due to which the dog salivated.
  • After few days he started to ring a bell without providing meat to the dog. At that point the dog stopped salivation.
  • Turning to the same experiment, he started to link giving meat (unconditional stimulus) after offering the conditional stimulus (ringing the bell). When the bell was rung the dog salivated in expectation of meat provided to him.

A simple surgical procedure allowed Pavlov to measure accurately the amount of saliva secreted by a dog. When Pavlov presented the dog with a piece of meat, the dog exhibited a noticeable increase in salivation. When Pavlov withheld the presentation of meat and nearly rang a bell, the dog has no salivation. The Pavlov proceeded to link the meat and the ringing of the bell. After repeatedly hearing the bell before getting the food, the dog began to salivate nearly at the sound of the bell even if no food was offered. In effect, the dog learned to respond that is to salivate the bell.

The meat was unconditioned stimuli. It invariably caused dog to react in a specific way. The reactions that took place, whenever; the bell was the artificial stimulus or conditioned stimulus. While it was originally neutral, when the bell was paired with the meat (an unconditioned stimulus), if eventually produced a response when presented alone. It is the conditioned response. This describes the behavior of the dog salivating in reaction to the bell alone.

Thus, the theory inferred that the conditional response is provided even in absence of unconditional stimulus.

Using these concepts, we can summarize the classical conditioning. Learning a conditioned response involve building up an association between a conditioned stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus.

Using the paired stimulus, one compelling and other one neutral, the neutral one becomes a conditioned stimulus and hence takes on the properties of the unconditioned stimulus.
Classical conditioning is passive. Something happens and we behave in a specific way. It is elicited in response to a specific, identifiable event. As such, it can explain simple reflexive behaviors. But most behavior particularly the complex behavior of individuals in organization is emitted rather than elicited. It is voluntary rather than reflexive. For example, employees choose to arrive at work on time, ask their superiors for help with problems. The learning of these behaviors is better understood by looking at operant conditioning.

For example: 
Stimulus --> Response

For Example:
Surprised by an electric shock --> Jumps/ Screams

Implications of Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is also called respondent conditioning or reflexive conditioning because the conditioned responses are innate reflexive responses. Classical conditioning has some important implications for understanding human behavior. Since higher-order conditioning for learning by human beings is important, its implications must be recognized. For example, higher order conditioning can explain how learning can be transferred to stimuli other than those used in the original conditioning. However, the existence of higher-order conditioning shows the difficulty of tracing the exact cause of certain behavior as direct cause-effect relationship for a behavior, is difficult to establish. Another implication of higher-order conditioning is that the reinforcement can be acquired. A conditioned stimulus becomes reinforcing under higher-order conditioning. This shows the importance of secondary rewards (higher-order conditioning) in organizations. Classical conditioning, though offers explanation for learning, fails to explain total behavior of human beings.

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