Human Behavior in the Workplace


  1. Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology: The Study of Human Behavior in the Workplace
  2. I/O psychologists strive to increase the dignity and performance of workers and the
    organizations where they labor
  3. Among other issues, I/O psychologists study worker motivation and satisfaction, job
    performance, leadership, occupational hazards, personnel selection, and diversity in
    13-1. Choosing a Career
    13-1a. Examining family influences and personal characteristics
  4. Personal characteristics
    a. Those with secure attachment and a solid sense of self-efficacy find it easier to make
    career choices
    b. Intelligence predicts the likelihood of entering particular occupations
    c. In many occupations, special talents are more important than general intelligence
    1) Specific aptitudes may include creativity, artistic or musical talent, mechanical
    ability, clerical skill, mathematical ability, and persuasive talents
    2) Social skills are particularly valuable
    d. Interests and personality should be considered in career planning
  5. Family influences
    a. Individual career choices are influenced by family background
    b. Family background influences career choice for several reasons
    1) Level of education
    2) Socioeconomic status
    3) Parenting practices play a role
    13-1b. Researching Job Characteristics
  6. Sources of career information
    a. Good reference for occupational literature is Occupational Outlook Handbook
    b. More detailed information can usually be found online
  7. Essential information about occupations
    a. The nature of the work
    b. Working conditions
    c. Job entry requirements
    d. Ongoing training or education
    e. Potential earnings
    f. Potential status
    g. Opportunities for advancement
    h. Intrinsic job satisfaction
    i. Future outlook
    j. Security
  8. Experts agree that the future belongs to those who are better educated
    13-1c. Using psychological tests for career decisions
  9. Occupational interest inventories measure your interests as they relate to various jobs or
  10. There are three widely used tests
    a. Strong Interest Inventory (SII)
    b. Self-Directed Search (SDS)
    c. Kuder Career Search with Placement Match
  11. Occupational interest inventories do not attempt to predict whether you would be successful
    in various occupations but focus on predicted job satisfaction
  12. Test results may inspire you to investigate career possibilities that you had never thought of
  13. Several cautions worth noting
    a. You may score high on some occupations you know you would hate
    b .Don’t let the test make career decisions for you
    c. Some gender bias on most inventories
    13-1d. Taking Important Considerations into Account
  14. You have the potential for success in a variety of occupations
  15. Be cautious about choosing a career solely on the basis of salary
  16. There are limits on your career options
  17. Career choice is a developmental process that extends throughout life
  18. Some career decisions are not easily undone
    13-2. The Changing World of Work
    13-2a. Workplace Trends
  19. Work is an activity that produces something of value for others
  20. Important work-related trends
    a. Technology is changing the nature of work
    b. New work attitudes are required
    c. Lifelong learning is a necessity
    d. Independent workers are increasing
    e. The boundaries between work and home are breaking down
    f. The highest job growth will occur in the professional and service occupations
    g. Job sharing is becoming more common
    13-2b. Education and Earnings
  21. Generally, the more you learn, the more you earn
  22. However, a college diploma is no guarantee of a great job
  23. Underemployment is settling for a job that does not fully utilize one’s skills, abilities, and
  24. Current employers are not happy with the academic skills of many employees
  25. A majority of U.S. employers say that about a third of their workers do not meet the writing
    requirements of their positions
    13-2c. The Changing Workforce
  26. The labor force consists of all those who are employed as well as those who are currently
    unemployed but looking for work
  27. Demographic changes
    a. Larger proportion of women in the workforce
    b. Workforce also becoming more ethnically diverse
  28. Today’s workplace for women and minorities
    a. Both groups continue to face subtle obstacles to success
    1) Main obstacle is job segregation (job-typing by gender, race)
    2) Frequently passed over for promotion; this effect is referred to as the glass ceiling, an
    invisible barrier that prevents most women and ethnic minorities from advancing to
    the highest levels of occupations
    b. A lone woman or minority person can become a token, a symbol of all the members of
    that group
    c. Tokens, because of the feeling that they are accountable for the actions of their whole
    group, may experience performance pressure
    d. Both groups have fewer opportunities to observe, emulate relevant role models
    e. Sexual harassment at work more likely to be a problem for women than men
  29. The challenges of change
    a. Cultural differences exist in managing time, people, identification with work, and
    b. Some individuals feel that they are personally paying the price of prejudice in workplace
    1) Perception can cause resentment
    2) Recognizing the problem, some companies offer diversity training programs
    c. Negative feelings about affirmative action may lead to negative attributions toward
    women, ethnic minorities
    13-3. Coping with Occupational Hazards
    13-3a. Job Stress
  30. Sources of stress on the job
    a. There are various types of work-related stressors
    1) Long work hours
    2) Lack of privacy, high noise levels, unusual hours, pressure of deadlines, lack of
    control over one’s work, inadequate resources, and perceived inequities
    3) Environmental conditions (such as extreme temperatures)
    4) Fear of downsizing, losing benefits
    5) Office politics and conflicts
    6) Adapting to changing technology
    7) “Underwork” can also be stressful
    b. Women may experience sex discrimination, sexual harassment at higher rates than men
    c. African Americans, ethnic minorities cope with racism and discrimination
    d. Workers from lower socioeconomic levels typically work in more dangerous jobs
    e. Keita and Hurrell proposed four factors that play critical role in the development of stress
    1) More workers are employed in service industries
    2) The economy is unpredictable
    3) Rapid changes in computer technology tax workers’ abilities to keep up
    4) The workplace is becoming more diverse
    f. Karasek contends that there are two key factors in occupational stress
    1) psychological demands
    2) Amount of decision control
    i) The greatest stress is experienced in jobs that feature high psychological demands
    and low decision control
  31. Effects of job stress
    a. Include increase in industrial accidents and absenteeism, poor job performance, high
    turnover, etc.
    b. Prolonged stress can lead to burnout, characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, and poor job
    c. Possible effects include physical and psychological problems
  32. Dealing with job stress
    a. Three avenues of attack for dealing with job stress
    1) Interventions at individual level
    2) Interventions at organizational level
    3) Intervention at individual-organizational interface
    b. Workers from lower socioeconomic groups typically experience more job stress,
    receive less attention through stress management programs
    13-3b. Sexual harassment occurs when employees are subjected to unwelcome sexually oriented
  33. According to the law, there are two types of sexual harassment
    a. Submission to sex a condition of hiring, advancement, etc. (quid pro quo)
    b. Unwelcome sexual behavior creates hostile environment
  34. Sexual harassment can take variety of forms (e.g., unsolicited and unwelcome flirting, sexual
    advances, unappreciated dirty jokes)
  35. According to experts, sexual harassment is an abuse of power by a person in authority
  36. Prevalence and consequences
    a. More widespread than people realize
    b. Experiencing sexual harassment can have negative effects on psychological and physical
  37. Stopping sexual harassment
    a. Researchers have developed two-factor model to predict occurrence
    1) Two factors are individuals’ proclivity for sexual harassment and organizational
    norms regarding acceptability of sexual harassment
    2) Harassment most likely to occur when individual proclivity is high, organizational
    norms are accepting
    b. Responses to sexual harassment can be classified in four categories
    1) Avoidance denial (self-focus and self-response)
    2) Confrontation/negotiation (initiator focus, self-response)
    3) Social coping (self-focus, supported response)
    4) Advocacy seeking (initiator focus, supported response)
    13-3c. Unemployment
  38. Displaced workers are individuals who are unemployed because their jobs have disappeared
  39. Effects of unemployment
    a. Can cause economic distress, health problems, psychological difficulties
    b. Those laid off in middle age seem to find the experience most difficult
    1) Typically have more financial responsibilities
    2) Loss of insurance may jeopardize entire family’s health
    3) Older workers typically remain out of work longer
    4) Middle-aged workers feel highly involved in their work
  40. Coping with unemployment
    a. Support from friends, family is essential
    b. Some companies offer programs for laid-off workers
    13-4. Balancing Work and other Spheres of Life
  41. Workaholism
    a. Workaholics devote nearly all their time and energy to their jobs
    b. There appear to be two types of workaholics
    1) The enthusiastic workaholic works for the pure joy of it
    2) The nonenthusiastic workaholic feels driven to work but reports low job enjoyment
  42. Work and Family Roles
    a. Dual-earner couples are the dominant family form in the U.S.
    b. Working parents experience work-family conflict, or the feeling of being pulled in
    multiple directions by competing demands from the job and family
    c. To gain more control over their lives, some women are temporarily opting out of the
    workforce; others are going into business for themselves
    d. A number of factors contribute to positive outcomes associated with multiple roles,
    including added income, social support, the experience of success, and buffering
    13-5. Application: Getting Ahead in the Job Game
    13-5a. Putting together a résumé
  43. Must achieve goals without being flashy, gimmicky
  44. Basic guidelines
    a. Use white, ivory, or beige paper
    b. Eliminate typographical errors
    c. Keep it short
    d. Avoid use of complete sentences, word “I”
    e. Avoid giving superfluous, personal information
  45. Effective résumé will contain various elements
    a. Heading with name, address, and phone number
    b. Objective stating precisely the kind of position sought
    c. Education listing degrees earned
    d. Experience organized chronologically
  46. An electronic résumé may be necessary in addition to the traditional paper version
    13-5b. Finding companies you want to work for
  47. Start with self-exploration to gain a picture of your personal qualities
  48. Learn about the characteristics of various occupations via relevant websites or visit your
    Career Services office.
    13-5c. Landing an interview
  49. Traditional approach is to submit résumé and cover letter
  50. Use research about the company to make a case why you would be useful to the organization
  51. You might introduce yourself directly by phone and request an interview
    13-5d. Polishing your interview technique
  52. Interviewers’ ratings of applicants not necessarily based on job-relevant characteristics (e.g.,
    appearance, nonverbal cues may be important)
  53. Creating the right impression
    a. Appear confident, enthusiastic, ambitious
    b. Demeanor should be somewhat formal, reserved
    c. Never give more information than interviewer requests
    d. Don’t interrupt, contradict interviewer
    e. Don’t criticize former employer
    f. Advance preparation is crucial
    g. Avoid discussion of salary in initial interview