Behavior as an Input-Output System

People are considered as the "spinal cord" of every organization. Managers of every organization must be familiar about behavior of people. Understanding an individual behavior is a very difficult task. Therefore behavior can be observed as input-output system.

The Inputs: Stimuli form the inputs for the system and the information getting process or function is the sensation. The event data from the environment are received and transformed to sensations by sense organs of vision, audition, smell, taste, those on the inner ear and muscles.

The processing: Something happens to the inputs as soon as they are sent to central processing unit i.e. nervous system by the receptors. Perception of the situation, thinking, reasoning or problem-solving occurs. A choice between alternatives is made and decision is taken.

The Outputs: Outputs are the behavioral response of individual. It is caused by inputs and processing components of the individual behavior. The situations in which outputs occur largely influence the working of the system as a whole. These situations may include environmental factors which affect, the psycho-motor process.

Individuals behave differently because of a multitude of factors. These include an individual’s age, sex, education, intelligence, personality, physical characteristics, experience, values, family and cultural background etc. For instance, a young railway ticket collector would behave differently from one who is more experienced and mature. Situational variables affecting individual behavior include organizational and social variables e.g., type of organization, nature of supervision, and physical job variables like method of work, design of work, and physical work environment.

1. Traditional View of Input-Output System

According to this system, if we assume that behavior is caused and this assumption is true, behavior takes place in the form of a process or system. Based on the analysis of behavior processes or systems have been developed.

a) S – R Model
S – R process where ‘S’ stands for stimulus and ‘R’ stands for response. The process of human behavior may thus be regarded as stimulus-response process. The teacher is affected by student’s behavior and in turn affects their behavior. This takes place through interaction between/among them, and is subject to the environment in which they interact. Thus, individual behavior is not a self-induced phenomenon, but is affected by a larger system e.g., group, family and the society within which one functions.

Similarly, S – R model of human behavior suggests that the behavior is caused by certain reasons. The reasons may be internal feeling (motivation) and external environment (stimulus). A stimulus is an agent, such as, heat, light, piece of information etc. that directly influences the activity of an organism (person). Without the stimulus, there is no information to be handled by the internal processes prior to action taken by the person. It implies that his behavior is determined by the situation. Inherent in the situation are the environmental forces that shape and determine his behavior at any given moment. The entire situation has been traditionally described as stimulus response (S – R) process. This S – R model, however, does not give the total concept of caused nature of behavior especially when the person concerned plays an important role in behavior especially when their person concerned plays an important role in behavior because behavior is shaped by his internal feelings also. Thus, combination of stimulus – response situation and human being will give a more comprehensive model of human behavior denoting that the situation interacting with the human being proceeds and causes behavior.

b) S – O – R Model
S – O – R model of human behavior is achieved by inserting O (organism) in the classical S – R model. The S – O – R model is based upon the stimulus processed by the organism and followed by behavior. This O is not passive and immobile as assumed in S – R model. Rather the O is not viewed as a mediating, maintenance, and adjustive function between S and R as a mediating function, the O is constantly active, scanning its surroundings, monitoring its own actions, seeking certain conditions and avoiding others. As a maintenance function, organs of O are responsible for its health and growth. There are three categories of maintenance organs-receptors (sense organs), connectors (nervous organs), and effectors (muscles and glands). The adjustment function of the O monitors the person’s activities so that he can overcome obstacles and satisfy his needs. Though the insertion of O in S – R model gives some recognition to the importance to the human variables. It still remains a relatively mechanistic and simplistic approach and does not explain the complexity of human behavior

2. Behavior View of Input-Output System (S – O – B Model)

It is also popularly known as S – O – B model. S – O – B incorporates a more complex mechanism of human behavior which modifies and extends S – O – R models. In this model, ‘S’ stands for the situation which is more comprehensive than stimuli of S – O – R model and incorporates all aspects of the environment – immediate stimulus, physical environment, and socio-cultural environment. ‘O’ is the organism but does not only represent the physiological being as in the S – O – R model, but also the psychological being which is more complex. ‘B’ stands for pattern of behavior, both overt and covert.

This model of behavior has significant departure from earlier models for behavior which have consider only overt aspects.

S – O – B model tries to explain the process of human behavior. The understanding, predicting, and directing human behavior in organizations may be increased when we identify and analyze the different variables which go in shaping the behavior. Various factors affecting the human behavior may lie within the individual himself or lie in the situations with which he interacts.

Biological Foundation of Behavior
The general biological characteristics of human system, especially as laid down in heredity and revealed during the subsequent period of development of the individual, influence the ways in which he or she tends to sense external event data, interpret them, respond to them and learn from his/her own past experiences.

The individual inherits a similarity to other individuals as well as uniqueness in the form of genes and chromosomes. In addition, he or she inherits and physical traits and the ability to learn and behave intellectually, which a wide impact on his/her behavioral patterns.

The childhood sensory and perceptual experience contributes a lot towards the maturity of the sensory and perceptual abilities. The growth of the individual is markedly influenced by the functioning of the ductless glands including the pituitary, the thyroid, the adrenals and the gonads.

The structure of the nervous system plays a significant role in bringing together the human behavior and personality. Integration of human behavior takes place because of the constraint functioning of receptors, effectors and connectors. The human behavior ranges from the simple reflex action to the complex problem-solving activity involving various levels of integration.

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