Personality Psychology and People

Topics: Emotion, Personality psychology, Big Five personality traits Pages: 37 (10025 words) Published: March 13, 2011


After studying this chapter, students should be able to:

1. Explain the factors that determine an individual’s personality.| 2. Describe the MBTI personality framework.| 3. Identify the key traits in the Big Five personality model.| 4. Explain the impact of job typology on the personality-job performance relationship.| 5. Differentiate emotions from moods.| 6. Contrast felt vs. displayed emotions.| 7. Read emotions.| 8. Explain any gender-differences in emotions.| 9. Describe external constraints on emotions.| 10. Apply concepts on emotions to OB issues.|


A review of the personality literature offers general guidelines that can lead to effective job performance. As such, it can improve hiring, transfer, and promotion decisions. Because personality characteristics create the parameters for people’s behavior, they give us a framework for predicting behavior. For example, individuals who are shy, introverted, and uncomfortable in social situations would probably be ill-suited as salespeople. Individuals who are submissive and conforming might not be effective as advertising “idea” people.

Can we predict which people will be high performers in sales, research, or assembly-line work on the basis of their personality characteristics alone? The answer is no. Personality assessment should be used in conjunction with other information such as skills, abilities, and experience. However, knowledge of an individual’s personality can aid in reducing mismatches, which, in turn, can lead to reduced turnover and higher job satisfaction.

We can look at certain personality characteristics that tend to be related to job success, test for those traits, and use the data to make selection more effective. A person who accepts rules, conformity, dependence, and rates high on authoritarianism is likely to feel more comfortable in, say, a structured assembly-line job, as an admittance clerk in a hospital, or as an administrator in a large public agency than as a researcher or an employee whose job requires a high degree of creativity.

Can managers control the emotions of their colleagues and employees? No. Emotions are a natural part of an individual’s makeup. Where managers err is if they ignore the emotional elements in organizational behavior and assess individual behavior as if it were completely rational. As one consultant aptly put it, “You can’t divorce emotions from the workplace because you can’t divorce emotions from people.’’ Managers who understand the role of emotions will significantly improve their ability to explain and predict individual behavior.

Do emotions affect job performance? Yes. They can hinder performance, especially negative emotions. That is probably why organizations, for the most part, try to extract emotions out of the workplace. Emotions can also enhance performance. How? Two ways. First, emotions can increase arousal levels, thus acting as motivators to higher performance. Second, emotional labor recognizes that feelings can be part of a job’s required behavior. For instance, the ability to effectively manage emotions in leadership and sales positions may be critical to success in those positions.

What differentiates functional from dysfunctional emotions at work? While there is no precise answer to this, it has been suggested that the critical moderating variable is the complexity of the individual’s task. The more complex a task, the lower the level of arousal that can be tolerated without interfering with performance. While a certain minimal level of arousal is probably necessary for good performance, very high levels interfere with the ability to function, especially if the job requires calculative and detailed cognitive processes. Given that the trend is toward jobs becoming more complex, you can see why organizations are likely to go to considerable...
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