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Topic Covered: Personality in organisational behavior, definition by authors, meaning, determinants, theories, nature of personality.
Personality in Organisational Behavior
Personality in Organisational Behavior of an individual plays an extremely important role in assessing the behaviour of a person at an organization. In case an individual who is holding a senior position in an organization has a wrong type of personality, it may lead to a very bad impact on the relationship and ultimately it may lead to protests and unrest at the workplace.
Sometimes the personality difficulties are the root cause of labour strikes. No matter how good the superior is in technical knowledge or other behavioural characteristics, it is the ‘temperament’ of the superior that is crucial in ensuring a cordial interaction with subordinates.
Table of Contents
- 1 Personality in Organisational Behavior
- 2 What is Personality?
- 3 Personality Definition
- 4 Personality Meaning
- 5 Personality Definition by Authors
- 6 Determinants of Personality
- 7 Theories of Personality
- 8 Nature of Personality
What is Personality?
Personality is the fundamental and foremost determinant of individual behaviour. It seeks to integrate the physiological and psychological facets of an individual to put them into action. Personality consists of an individual’s characteristics and distinctive ways of behaviour.
Probably the most meaningful approach would be to include both the person and the role as Floyd L Ruch does in his definition. He states that:
the human personality includes:
- External appearance and behaviour or social stimulus value.
- Inner awareness of self as a permanent organising force.
- The particular pattern or organisation of measurable traits, both “inner and “outer”.
The word personality is derived from a Greek word “persona” which means “to speak through”. Personality is the combination of characteristics or qualities that forms a person’s unique identity.
It signifies the role which a person plays in public. Every individual has a unique, personal and major determinant of his behavior that defines his/her personality.
The dynamic organisation within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his unique adjustments to his environmentGordon Allport
Personality is a broad, amorphous designation relating to fundamental approaches of persons to others and themselves. To most psychologists and students of behaviour, this term refers to the study of the characteristic traits of an individual, relationships between these traits and the way in which a person adjusts to other people and situationsJ.B Kolasa
Personality is a pattern of stable states and characteristics of a person that influences his or her behaviour toward goal achievement. Each person has unique ways of protecting these statesGluck
Personality is a very diverse and complex psychological concept. The word ‘personality’ may mean something like outgoing, invigorating interpersonal abilities … but we must also recognize and explain the fact that development results in man acquiring a distinctiveness or uniqueness which gives him identity which enables him and us to recognize him as apart from others. These distinguishing characteristics are summarized by the term ‘personalityJames D Thompson and Donald Van Houten
Personality is how people affect others and how they understand and view themselves, as well as their pattern of inner and outer measurable traits and the person situation interactionFred Luthans
as the most adequate conceptualisation of an individual’s behaviour in all its details which the scientist can provide at a moment of timeMcClelland
Determinants of Personality
The determinants of personality can perhaps best be grouped in five broad categories: biological, cultural, family, social and situational.
The study of the biological contributions to personality may be studied under three heads:
Heredity refers to those factors that were determined at conception. Physical stature, facial attractiveness, sex, temperament, muscle composition and reflexes, energy level, and biological rhythms are characteristics that are considered to be inherent from one’s parents.
The heredity approach argues that the ultimate explanation of an individual’s personality is the molecular structure of the genes, located in the chromosomes.
The second biological approach is to concentrate on the role that the brain plays in personality. The psychologists are unable to prove empirically the contribution of the human brain in influencing personality.
Preliminary results from the electrical stimulation of the brain (ESB) research give an indication that a better understanding of human personality and behaviour might come from the study of the brain.
Until recently, physiologists and psychologists felt that certain biological functions such as brainwave patterns, gastric and hormonal secretions, and fluctuations in blood pressure and skin temperature were beyond conscious control.
Now some scientists believe that these involuntary functions can be consciously controlled through biofeedback techniques. In BFT, the individual learns the internal rhythms of a particular body process through electronic signals that are feedback from equipment that is wired to the body.
A vital ingredient of the personality, an individual’s external appearance, is biologically determined. The fact that a person is tall or short, fat or skinny, black or white will influence the person’s effect on others and this in turn, will affect the self-concept.
Among the factors that influence personality formation is the culture in which we are raised, early conditioning, norms prevailing within the family, friends and social groups and other miscellaneous experiences that impact us.
The culture largely determines attitudes towards independence, aggression, competition, cooperation and a host of other human responses.
According to Paul H Mussen, “each culture expects, and trains, its members to behave in ways that are acceptable to the group. To a marked degree, the child’s cultural group defines the range of experiences and situations he is likely to encounter and the values and personality characteristics that will be reinforced and hence learned.”
Whereas the culture generally prescribes and limits what a person can be taught, it is the family, and later the social group, which selects, interprets and dispenses the culture. Thus, the family probably has the most significant impact on early personality development.
A substantial amount of empirical evidence indicates that the overall home environment created by the parents, in addition to their direct influence, is critical to personality development.
The parents play an especially important part in the identification process, which is important to the person’s early development. According to Mischel, the process can be examined from three different perspectives.
(a) Identification can be viewed as the similarity of behaviour including feelings and attitudes between child and model.
(b) Identification can be looked at as the child’s motives or desires to be like the model.
(c) It can be viewed as the process through which the child actually takes on the attributes of the model.
From all three perspectives, the identification process is fundamental to the understanding of personality development. The home environment also influences the personality of an individual. Siblings (brothers and sisters) also contribute to personality.
There is increasing recognition given to the role of other relevant persons, groups and especially organisations, which greatly influence an individual’s personality. This is commonly called the socialization process.
Socialization involves the process by which a person acquires, from the enormously wide range of behavioural potentialities that are open to him or her, those that are ultimately synthesized and absorbed.
Socialization starts with the initial contact between a mother and her new infant. After infancy, other members of the immediate family – father, brothers, sisters and close relatives or friends, then the social group: peers, school friends and members of the work group – play influential roles.
Socialization process is especially relevant to organisational behaviour because the process is not confined to early childhood, taking place rather throughout one’s life. In particular, the evidence is accumulating that socialization may be one of the best explanations for why employees behave the way they do in today’s organisations.
Human personality is also influenced by situational factors. The effect of the environment is quite strong. Knowledge, skill and language are obviously acquired and represent important modifications of behaviour.
An individual’s personality, while generally stable and consistent, does change in different situations. The varying demands of different situations call forth different aspects of one’s personality.
According to Milgram, “Situation exerts an important press on the individual. It exercises constraints and may provide a push. In certain circumstances, it is not so much the kind of person a man is, as the kind of situation in which he is placed that determines his actions”. We should therefore not look at personality patterns in isolation.
Theories of Personality
Over time, researchers have developed a number of personality theories and no theory is complete in itself. The theories can be conveniently grouped under four heads:
1. Psychoanalytic Theory
2. Type Theories
3. Trait Theories
The Psychoanalytic Theory of personality has held the interest of psychologists and psychiatrists for a long time. Sigmund Freud, its formulator, was quite an influence.
It attends to emphasizes three main issues i.e. the id, the ego and the superego. Psychoanalysts say that all human personality is comprised of these closely integrated functions.
The type theories represent an attempt to put some degree of order into the chaos of personality theory. The type theory represents an attempt to scientifically describe personality by classifying individuals into convenient categories. Two categories of type theories are explained below:
Sheldon’s Physiognomy Theory: William Sheldon has presented a unique body-type temperamental model that represents a link between certain anatomical features and psychological traits with distinguishing characteristics of an individual and his behaviour.
Carl Jung’s Extrovert-introvert Theory: The way to type personality is in terms of behavior or psychological factors. Jung’s introvert and extrovert types are an example.
Some early personality researchers believed that to understand individuals, we must break down behaviour patterns into a series of observable traits.
According to trait theory, combining these traits into a group forms an individual’s personality. A personality trait can be defined as an “enduring attribute of a person that appears consistently in a variety of situations”. In combination, such traits distinguish one personality from another.
Gordon Allport’s Personality Traits: Claims that personality traits are real entities, physically located somewhere in the brain. We each inherit our own unique set of raw material for given traits, which are then shaped by our experiences.
Raymond Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors: Raymond Cattell considered personality to be a pattern of traits providing the key to understanding and predicting a person’s behaviour.
Cattell identified two types:
(a) Surface Traits
(b) Source Traits
The psychoanalytic, type and trait theories represent the more traditional approach to explaining the complex human personality.
Carl Rogers is most closely associated with his approach of self-theory. Rogers and his associates have developed this personality theory that places emphasis on the individual as an initiating, creating, influential determinant of behaviour within the environmental framework.
According to Rogers basic ingredients of personality:
- Self Actualization: Carl Rogers believed that humans have one basic motive that is the tendency to self-actualize – i.e. to fulfil one’s potential and achieve the highest level of ‘human-beingness’ we can.
- Self-concept: Self-concept is defined as “the organized, consistent set of perceptions and beliefs about oneself”.
Nature of Personality
Personality is the psychological growth and development within the ambit of change. Hubert Bonner underlines six propositions to clarify the nature of personality. These propositions are relevant to decision making by an administrator.
Human Behaviour consists of the totality of acts which culminate into Action
In an organisation, human behaviour is the point of culmination which is preceded by a number of acts. It is the totality of these acts in the form of responded behaviour which is relevant to both individual and the organisation. The isolated psychological or physiological aspect of individual in personality is of no use for administrative decision or action.
Personality and Environment
Personality and environment are two interdependent variables of human behaviour. Personality gets molded according to the environment, it is also a fact that it is the environment which stimulates personality to action.
Personality Depicts consistency
Normal personality is dynamic due to the environmental setting around him. Personality can be flexible to the point of consistency in a different environmental setting.
Personality is goal-oriented behaviour
Every individual seeks to achieve the desired goal through his personality. The process of goal selection is in itself a dynamic quality of personality which also forges unity between personality and goal-directed behaviour.
Time Integrating structure
Personality provides a synthesis of the retrospect and the prospect because the future is as much related to past as the past is to future.
Personality structure consists of three dimensions – determinants, stages and traits.
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