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Student Centre Canadian Organizational Behaviour
Fourth Edition
Steven L. McShane

Student Centre

Chapter 6: Perception and Personality in Organizations

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    Key Terms and Glossary

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    "Big Five" personality dimensions: The five abstract personality dimensions under which most personality traits are represented. They are extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience.

    Actor-observer error: An attribution error whereby people tend to attribute their own actions more to external factors, and the behaviour of others more to internal factors.

    Attribution process: A perceptual process whereby we interpret the causes of behaviour in terms of the person (internal attributions) or the situation (external attributions).

    Conscientiousness: A "Big Five" personality dimension that characterizes people who are careful, dependable, and self-disciplined.

    Empathy: A person's ability to understand and be sensitive to the feelings, thoughts, and situations of others.

    Extroversion: A "Big Five" personality dimension that characterizes people who are outgoing, talkative, sociable, and assertive.

    Fundamental attribution error: The tendency to attribute the behaviour of other people more to internal than external factors.

    Halo error: A perceptual error whereby our general impression of a person, usually based on one prominent characteristic, biases our perception of other characteristics of that person.

    Harassment: Unwelcome conduct that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse job-related consequences for the victims of harassment.

    Introversion: Refers to people who are quiet, shy, and cautious.

    Johari Window: A model of personal and interpersonal understanding that encourages disclosure and feedback to increase the open area and reduce the blind, hidden, and unknown areas of oneself.

    Locus of control: A personality trait referring to the extent to which people believe what happens to them is within their control; those who feel in control of their destiny have an internal locus of control, whereas those who believe that life events are due mainly to fate or to luck have an external locus of control.

    Mental models: The broad world views or "theories-in-use" that people rely on to guide their perceptions and behaviours.

    Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): A personality test that measures how people prefer to focus their attention (extroversion versus introversion), collect information (sensing versus intuition), process and evaluate information (thinking versus feeling), and orient themselves to the outer world (judging versus perceiving).

    Perception: The process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting information in order to make sense of the world around us.

    Perceptual defence: A defensive psychological process that involves subconsciously screening out large blocks of information that threaten the person's beliefs and values.

    Perceptual grouping: The perceptual organization process of placing people and objects into recognizable and manageable patterns or categories.

    Personality: The relatively stable pattern of behaviours and consistent internal states that explain a person's behavioural tendencies.

    Prejudice: Negative emotions towards people belonging to a particular stereotyped group based on inaccurate perceptions about people in that group.

    Primacy effect: A perceptual error in which we quickly form an opinion of people based on the first information we receive about them.

    Projection bias: A perceptual error in which we tend to believe that other people hold the same beliefs and attitudes that we do.

    Recency effect: A perceptual error in which the most recent information dominates our perception about a person.

    Selective attention: The process of filtering (selecting and screening out) information received by our senses.

    Self-efficacy: A person's belief that he or she has the ability, motivation, and resources to complete a task successfully.

    Self-fulfilling prophecy: A phenomenon in which an observer's expectations of someone cause that person to act in a way consistent with the observer's expectation.

    Self-monitoring: A personality trait referring to the extent to which people are sensitive to situational cues and can readily adapt their own behaviour appropriately.

    Self-serving bias: A perceptual error whereby people tend to attribute their own success to internal factors and their failures to external factors.

    Sexual harassment: Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse job-related consequences for its victims.

    Social identity theory: A model that explains self-perception and social perception in terms of our unique characteristics (personal identity) as well as membership in various social groups (social identity).

    Stereotyping: The process of using a few observable characteristics to assign people to a preconceived social category, and then assigning less observable traits to those persons based on their membership in the group.


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