Bob Stretch Southwestern College
Robbins & Judge
Organizational Behavior 13th Edition
Foundations of Individual Behavior
Chapter Learning Objectives
After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
– Contrast the two types of ability.
– Define intellectual ability and demonstrate its relevance to
– Identify the key biographical characteristics and describe
how they are relevant to OB.
– Define learning and outline the principles of the three major
theories of learning.
– Define shaping, and show how it can be used in OB.
– Show how culture affects our understanding of intellectual
abilities, biographical characteristics, and learning.
An individual’s capacity to perform the various tasks in a
Made up of two sets of factors:
– Intellectual Abilities
• The abilities needed to perform mental activities.
• General Mental Ability (GMA) is a measure of overall
• Wonderlic Personnel Test: a quick measure of intelligence for
• No correlation between intelligence and job satisfaction.
– Physical Abilities
• The capacity to do tasks demanding stamina, dexterity,
strength, and similar characteristics.
Dimensions of Intellectual Ability
E X H I B I T 2–1
Nine Basic Physical Abilities
– Dynamic strength
– Trunk strength
– Static strength
– Explosive strength
– Extent flexibility
– Dynamic flexibility
– Body coordination
E X H I B I T 2–2
Objective and easily obtained personal characteristics.
– Older workers bring experience, judgment, a strong work
ethic, and commitment to quality.
– Few differences between men and women that affect job
Race (the biological heritage used to identify oneself)
– Contentious issue: differences exist, but could be more
culture-based than race-based.
Other Biographical Characteristics
– People with job tenure (seniority at a job) are more
productive, absent less frequently, have lower turnover, and
are more satisfied.
– Islam is especially problematic in the workplace in this post-
– Federal law does not protect against discrimination (but state
or local laws may).
– Domestic partner benefits are important considerations.
– Relatively new issue – transgendered employees.
Any relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs
as a result of experience
Is Acquired Through
Theories of Learning
– A type of conditioning in which an individual responds to
some stimulus that would not ordinarily produce such a
– A type of conditioning in which desired voluntary behavior
leads to a reward or prevents a punishment.
– People can learn through observation and direct experience.
Pavlov’s Dog Drool
– Unconditioned stimulus
• A naturally occurring phenomenon.
– Unconditioned response
• The naturally occurring response to a natural stimulus.
– Conditioned stimulus
• An artificial stimulus introduced into the situation.
– Conditioned response
• The response to the artificial stimulus.
This is a passive form of learning. It is reflexive and not
voluntary – not the best theory for OB learning.
B. F. Skinner’s concept of Behaviorism: behavior
follows stimuli in a relatively unthinking manner.
– Conditioned behavior: voluntary behavior that is learned, not
– Reinforcement: the consequences of behavior which can
increase or decrease the likelihood of behavior repetition.
– Pleasing consequences increase likelihood of repetition.
– Rewards are most effective immediately after performance.
– Unrewarded/punished behavior is unlikely to be repeated.
Based on the idea that people can also learn indirectly:
by observation, reading, or just hearing about someone
else’s – a model’s – experiences.
– Attentional processes
• Must recognize and pay attention to critical features to learn.
– Retention processes
• Model’s actions must be remembered to be learned.
– Motor reproduction processes
• Watching the model’s behavior must be converted to doing.
– Reinforcement processes
• Positive incentives motivate learners.
Shaping: A Managerial Tool
Systematically reinforcing each successive step that moves an individual closer to the desired response.
Four Methods of Shaping Behavior:
– Positive reinforcement
• Providing a reward for a desired behavior (learning)
– Negative reinforcement
• Removing an unpleasant consequence when the desired behavior occurs (learning)
• Applying an undesirable condition to eliminate an undesirable behavior (“unlearning”)
• Withholding reinforcement of a behavior to cause its cessation (“unlearning”)
Schedules of Reinforcement: A Critical Issue
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 frequencies
Types of Intermittent Reinforcement
– Depends on the number of responses
– Depends on the time between
– Rewards are spaced at uniform time
intervals or after a set number of
– Rewards that are unpredictable or that
vary relative to the behavior.
Schedules of Reinforcement
E X H I B I T 2–3
Behavior Modification (OB Mod)
The application of reinforcement concepts to individuals
in the work setting
Follows the Five-Step Problem-Solving Model
1 • Identify critical behaviors
2 • Develop baseline data
3 • Identify behavioral consequences
4 • Develop and apply intervention
5 • Evaluate performance improvement
Problems with OB Mod and Reinforcement
OB Mod ignores thoughts and feelings.
OB Mod may not explain complex behaviors that
involve thinking and feeling.
Stimuli may not be consciously given as a means of
Modern managers and
OB theorists are using
cognitive approaches to
– Structures and measures of intelligence generalize across
– Not much evidence on the global relevance of the
relationships described in this chapter.
– Countries do vary dramatically on their biographical
– Again, not much evidence currently exists – we cannot
generalize at this point.
Summary and Managerial Implications
Three Individual Variables:
• Directly influences employees level of performance.
• Managers need to focus on ability in selection, promotion, and
• Fine-tune job to fit incumbent’s abilities.
– Biographical Characteristics
• Should not be used in management decisions: possible source
• Observable change in behavior = learning.
• Reinforcement works better than punishment.
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