Job Attitude

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Published on January 8, 2009

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Industrial-Organizational Psychology Learning ModuleJob Attitudes : Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP Industrial-Organizational Psychology Learning ModuleJob Attitudes Lesson Objectives : Lesson Objectives Know what job attitudes are, and be familiar with the assumptions that underlie them. Be familiar with the role that social psychology has played in attitude research and theory development. Understand the relationship between attitudes and behavior, especially regarding performance on the job. Understand how I/O psychologists are helping companies to assess and manage job attitudes and their impact on organizational performance. Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP At the end of this lecture, you should: Attitudes Defined : Attitudes Defined Briefly defined, an “attitude” represents a predisposition to respond in a favorable or unfavorable way to persons or objects in one’s environment. For instance, when we say we “like” something or “dislike” something, we are in effect expressing an attitude toward the person or object. What are some examples of people or things that you may have strong attitudes about? Attitudes: Three Important Assumptions : Attitudes: Three Important Assumptions Three important assumptions underlie the concept of attitudes: 1) An attitude is a hypothetical construct - we cannot actually see attitudes, although we can often see their consequences. 2) An attitude is a unidimensional construct - it usually ranges from very positive to very negative. 3) Attitudes are believed to be somewhat related to subsequent behavior, although as we’ll see, this relationship can be unclear. Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP Social Psychology and Attitude Research I : Social Psychology and Attitude Research I Attitude has been a central concept in social psychology throughout its history. An attitude is one of many constructs that social psychologists have invoked to help explain consistencies and differences in behavior. For example, if person A responds favorably toward a particular national group and person B responds unfavorably toward that same group, the differences in behaviors can be “explained” by attributing different attitudes toward the two persons. Social Psychology and Attitude Research II : Social Psychology and Attitude Research II Beginning in the 1950’s, social psychologists studied areas such as: How attitudes are formed. How attitudes are changed. How attitudes relate to behavioral intentions - what people intend to do. How attitudes relate to behaviors themselves - what people actually do. Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP Job Attitudes: Three Related Components : Job Attitudes: Three Related Components The job attitude is the middle component in a belief-evaluation-behavior chain: 1) Beliefs about aspects of the job. “My work has long stretches with nothing to do.” 2) The evaluative component, i.e., the attitude itself. “I am dissatisfied with my job.” 3) Work-related behavioral intentions that follow from the attitude. “I’m intending to quit my job.” Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP Job Attitudes and Actual Behavior : Job Attitudes and Actual Behavior The belief, attitude, intention sequence is presumably followed by actual behavior. For example, if I believe that my job is boring, and if my evaluation of my job is that it is unsatisfying, and I intend to quit, I may indeed actually leave my job. This traditional model suggests that behaviors (including job performance) are largely influenced by job attitudes. Recently, this traditional model has been questioned as being too simple and some more comprehensive alternatives have been developed. Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP Is A Happy Worker A Productive Worker? : Is A Happy Worker A Productive Worker? Over the years, one of the most strongly held beliefs among managers and I/O psychologists is that there is a relationship between a worker’s job satisfaction and his/her job performance. In 60 year’s worth of research I/O psychologists have found highly variable linkages between job satisfaction and job performance. The most recent examination by Timothy Judge and his colleagues suggests a correlation of .30 between satisfaction and performance, a small but meaningful association. Why is this association not larger? Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP Some Possible Explanations: : Some Possible Explanations: 1) Research and Measurement Issues: Is “job performance” defined correctly? Can you predict specific behaviors from a general attitude toward the job. 2) “Moderator” Effects: Satisfaction-performance relationship is highly complex (Katzell, Thompson & Guzzo, 1992) For example, the sat-perf relationship may be limited by constraints on performance, e.g., group norms for performance, environmental variables such as the speed of an assembly line. 3) Dispositional Effects: Some research has found that a substantial amount of the variability in job satisfaction may relate to “trait affect.” Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP Implications for Organizational Policy I : Implications for Organizational Policy I So, if little direct linkage exists between job satisfaction and job performance, is it possible for leaders to manage organizations so that employees can be both happy and productive? Importantly, while job satisfaction and job performance may have little direct impact on one another, the same organizational conditions, or “levers” may impact both. Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP Implications for Organizational Policy II : Implications for Organizational Policy II Research and practice indicate that: Creating jobs that are intrinsically interesting and important to the people performing them Equitably linking extrinsic rewards such as pay to performance and setting clear, challenging, acceptable goals… Helps companies to perform better on the whole than companies that don’t do these things. Organizations need not manage for either satisfaction or performance; high satisfaction and high performance are goals that can be met jointly. How I/O Psychologists Help Organizations to Assess and to Manage Attitudes : How I/O Psychologists Help Organizations to Assess and to Manage Attitudes Attitude Surveys Job Design Personnel Selection Change Management Training Performance Appraisal Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP There’s More to it than just General Job Satisfaction : There’s More to it than just General Job Satisfaction Other commonly measured job attitudes include: Attitudes toward specific job features Performance evaluations Benefit programs Organizational leaders Organizational commitment Career commitment Work-life balance Attitudes Exercise - Set-Up : Attitudes Exercise - Set-Up Situation: You are an I/O psychologist who has been asked to provide your expertise on the following issue. The Residential Life Department of a large university has been experiencing an usually high rate of turnover among it’s Resident Assistants (RA’s) during the last year. Over 60% of the university’s RA’s have recently left their positions, and with those that remain, poor performance is commonplace. This situation is very troubling, given the costs of training RA’s and of replacing them when they leave. Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP Attitudes Exercise : Attitudes Exercise Given what you know about how I/O psychologists help organizations to address the attitudes of their employees, what steps would you undertake to examine the problem? What questions would you ask, and what recommendations might you make? Prepared by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology - SIOP Summary of Learning Points : Summary of Learning Points Most psychologists believe that attitudes are an important precursor to behavior. Attitudes on the job - e.g., job satisfaction - are also related to behavior, although not necessarily to summary measures of job performance. On the whole, companies whose workers have positive attitudes are more effective than those whose workers do not. I/O psychologists help companies assess, understand, and influence job satisfaction through mechanisms such as attitude surveys and job design. Instructor Resources : Instructor Resources The following books and journal articles were used in preparation of the Job Attitudes module - you may find them useful in your own preparation. 1) Cranny, C.J., Smith, P.C. & Stone, E.F.(Eds.) (1992). Job Satisfaction: How people feel about their jobs and how it affects their performance. Lexington Books: NY (Note: Part 3 concerning the consequences of job satisfaction is particularly helpful.) 2) Steers, R.M. & Porter, L.W (Eds.) (1991). Motivation and Work Behavior. (5th ed.). McGraw-Hill:NY. (Note: Chapter 6 on Job Attitudes and Performance is particularly helpful.) 3) Shaw, M.E. & Costanzo, P.R. (1982) Theories of Social Psychology (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. (Note: Pages 285-288 concerning theories of attitudes and behavioral intentions are particularly helpful.) 4) Ajzen I. & Fishbein, M. (1977). Attitude-behavior relations: A theoretical analysis and review of empirical literature. Psychological Bulletin, 84, 888-918. 5) Iaffaldono, M.T. & Muchinsky, P.M. (1985). Job satisfaction and job performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 97, 251-273. 6) Muchinsky, P.M. (1999). Psychology applied to work (6th ed.). Wadsworth: Belmont:CA. (Note: Chapter 9 is particularly helpful on the topic of job attitudes.) 7) Staw, Barry M. (1986). Organizational psychology and the pursuit of the happy/productive worker. California Management Review, 28 (4), 40-53. 8) Judge, T. A.; Thoresen, C. J.; Bono, J. E., & Patton, G. K. (2001) The job satisfaction-job performance relationship: A qualitative and quantitative review. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 376-407.

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