I/O Psychology in the Movie Office Space

Topics: Psychology, Human behavior, Employment Pages: 6 (2042 words) Published: October 7, 2011
Most movies are a reflection of society and the type of interpersonal interactions that shape human lives, although they are typically revamped to fit a certain genre. In the movie Office Space, the satirical twist is on the human experience of the work environment. It is a comical depiction of how coworkers interact with each other and how they endure stressful job-related situations that we can all relate to. There are psychological concepts represented in this movie from various fields of psychology. This paper, however, will focus on evaluating and analyzing the following four constructs related to I/O psychology: McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y, stress, groupthink, and counterproductive work behaviors. Office space illustrates the everyday lives of office workers who are confined to cubicles, passionless about their jobs, and oppressed by office managers. The three main characters are software engineers who work for a company called Initech. The main character, Peter Gibbons, is fed up with his mundane job, the harassment from his eight different managers, and the lack of motivation and satisfaction he receives. To help him relax and be at peace with his work life, his friend takes him to a hypnotherapist. He is put into a state of carefree relaxation and his inhibitions are removed. Before Peter could be brought back to normal, the hypnotherapist suffered a heart attack, leaving peter worry free and intent to live his life doing absolutely nothing. This new lack of inhibition leads him to commit various acts of counterproductive work behavior until finally devising a plan to embezzle money from the company, which he completes with the help of his soon-to-be-fired coworkers, Samir and Michael. Chotchskie’s was an example of a restaurant work setting that was presented through the view of Joanna, a waitress who eventually changes jobs because of her dissatisfaction with the practices of the company and the interpersonal stress she encountered. Application of I/O

McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y Human relations theories view organizational life from a personal or human aspect that considers the relationship between organizations requirements and the characteristics of its members. Douglas McGregor proposed that the beliefs managers hold about their subordinates influences their behavior toward those subordinates. In his theory, he described two contrasting beliefs and labeled them Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X managers believe subordinates must be controlled to meet organizational needs. They are likely to use punishment and rewards as mechanisms of control and they conclude that employees will become apathetic and resistant if not assisted to focus on organizational goals. At the other end of the spectrum are Theory Y managers, who believe subordinates would be motivated to meet goals in the absence of organizational controls. To ensure organizational needs are being strived for, they are likely to appoint expanded responsibilities and propose challenges for employees. (Landy & Conte, 2009) In Office Space, the managers at Initech definitely conduct themselves according to McGregor’s Theory X. One unsuccessful attempt to cheer up employees was a birthday party, but it was for the self-centered boss and there was not enough cake for everyone. Another example was the mentioning of “Hawaiian Shirt Day,” but bored expressions continued to fill the room and most people were worried about losing their jobs at the moment. The manager, Mr. Lumbergh, is provided a private office, private parking space in front of the door, and a salary large enough to own a Porsche. On the other hand, subordinates are confined to tiny cubicles and complain of never receiving a raise, no matter how hard they work. Subordinates are not thought of as individuals and managers’ attempts at kindness consist of fag expressions and a completely insincere manner of communication. They know...
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