Questions and Exercises prepared by Alan Saks.
I. What is Personality?
is the relatively stable set of psychological characteristics that influences the way an individual interacts with his
or her environment. It is reflected in the way people react to other people, situations, and problems.
II. Personality and Organizational Behaviour
Personality has a rather long and rocky history in organizational behaviour that is demonstrated by the “person-situation.”
According to the dispositional approach, individuals possess stable traits or characteristics that influence their attitudes and
behaviours. According to the situational approach, characteristics of the organizational setting such as rewards and
punishment influence people’s feelings, attitudes, and behaviour. According to the interactionist approach, organizational
behaviour is a function of both dispositions and the situation. The interactionist approach is the most widely accepted
perspective within organizational behaviour. The role of personality in organizational settings is strongest in “weak” situations
where there are loosely defined roles and few rules. In strong situations which have more defined roles, rules, and
contingencies, personality tends to have less impact. Thus, the extent to which personality influences people’s attitudes and
behaviours depends on the situation.
A. The Five-Factor Model of Personality
Psychologists have discovered that there are about five basic, but general dimensions that describe personality:
Extraversion. Sociable, talkative vs. withdrawn, shy.
Emotional Stability/Neuroticism. Stable, confident vs. depressed, anxious.
Agreeableness. Tolerant, cooperative vs. cold, rude.
Conscientiousness. Dependable, responsible vs. careless, impulsive.
Openness to Experience. Curious, original vs. dull, unimaginative.
There is evidence that each of the “Big Five” dimensions is related to job performance. High conscientiousness is related to
performance for all occupations and the best predictor of performance of all the “Big Five” dimensions. The “Big Five”
dimensions have also been found to be related to motivation, job satisfaction, and career success.
B. Locus of Control
Locus of control
is a set of beliefs about whether one's behaviour is controlled mainly by internal or external forces. High
"externals" see their behaviours controlled by factors like fate, luck and powerful people. High "internals" see stronger effects
on their behaviour as a consequence of self-initiative, personal actions and free will.