Personality attributes and characteristics

Fundamental attribution error: The tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate the influence of internal or personal factors when making judgments about the behavior of others.

Self serving bias: The tendency for individuals to attribute their own success to internal factors while putting the blame for failures on external factors.

One of the more interesting findings drawn from attribution theory is that errors or biases attributions. For instance, substantial evidence supports the hypothesis that when we make judgments about the behavior of other people, we have a tendency to underestimate the influence of external actors and overestimate the influence of internal or personal factors. This fundamental attribution error can explain why a sales manager may be prone to attribute the poor performance of her sales agents to laziness rather than to the innovative product line introduced by a competitor. Individuals also tend to attribute their own success to internal factors such as ability or effort while putting the blame for failure on external factors such as luck. This self serving bias suggests that feedback provided to employees in performance reviews will be predictably distorted by them, whether it is positive or negative.

What shortcuts do managers use in judging others?

Managers use a number of shortcuts to judge others. Perceiving and interpreting what others do are burdensome processes. As a result, individuals develop techniques for making the task more manageable. These techniques are frequently valuable; they allow us to make accurate assessments rapidly and provide valid data for making predictions. However, they are not foolproof. They can and do get us into trouble. An understanding of these shortcuts can help us determine when they can result in significant distortions.

Individuals cannot assimilate all they observe, so they are selective. They absorb bits and pieces. These bits and pieces are not chosen randomly; rather they are selectively chosen depending on the interests, background experience an attitude of the observer. Selective perception allows us to sped read others but not without the risk of drawing an inaccurate picture.

It is easy to judge others if we assume that they are similar to us. In assumed similarity, or the like me effect the observer’s perception of to others in influenced more by the observer’s own characteristics than by those of the person observed. For example, if you want to challenge and responsibility in your job, you will assume that others want the same. People who assume that others are like them can of course be proven right, but most of the time they’re wrong.

When we judge someone on the basis of our perception of a group to which he or she belongs we are using the shortcut of stereotyping. Most women won’t relocate for a promotion and older workers are less productive, are examples of stereotyping. If someone holds such a stereotype, that is what he or she will perceive – whether or not it’s accurate. When stereotypes have no foundation, they distort judgments.

When we form a general impressions about an individual on the basis of a single characteristics such as intelligence, sociability, or appearance we re being influence by the halo effect. This effect frequently occurs, for instance, when students evaluate their class room instructors. Students may isolate single trait such as enthusiasm and allow their entire evaluation to the tainted by their perception of this one trait. An instructor might be assured, knowledgeable and highly qualified but if he or she lacks zeal, he or she may be rated lower on a number of other characteristics.

A final shortcut in judging others involves a manager’s expectations of employees. It is the self fulfilling prophecy (or the Pygmalion effect). The self fulfilling prophecy involves how a manager perceives others and how they in turn, behave in ways that are consistent with the manager’s expectations.

Matching personality types to compatible jobs leads to more satisfied employees. According to Holland’s personality job fit theory, people with a social preference like activities that involve helping and developing others. The social workers and direct care employees at the children’s shelter understand the needs of kids who are removed from troubled homes and want to care for their physical and emotional needs while they are separated from their parents.

A manager can better understand why, for instance an employee is uncomfortable with making quick decisions or why an employee insists on gathering as much information as possible before addressing a problem. Or, for instance, managers can expect that individuals with an external locus of control may be less satisfied with their jobs than those with an internal locus also that the may be less willing to accept responsibility for their actions.

Do personality Attributes differ across national cultures?

No single personality type is dominant within a given country. You can, or instance find high risk takers and low risk takers in almost any culture, yet a country’s culture should influence the dominant personality characteristics of its population. We can see this influence by looking at the locus of control.

We introduced the issues of national cultures. One point of that discussion was that national cultures differ in terms of the degree to which people believe they control their environment. North Americans, for example, believe that they can dominate their environment, whereas societies such as Middle East countries, believe that life is essentially preordained. Notice the close parallel to internal and external locus of control. We control. We should expect a larger proportion of employees who have internal loci in the United States and Canadian work forces than in the work forces of Saudi Arabia or Iran.

As we have described throughout this article, personality traits influence employees’ behavior. For global managers, understanding how personality traits differ takes on added significance when we adopt the perspective of national culture.

Do entrepreneurs share personality characteristics?

Think of someone you know who is an entrepreneur. May be it’s someone you know personally or maybe it’s someone you’ve read about such as Bill Gates of Microsoft, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon, N. R Naryana Murthy of Infosys or Ekta Kapoor of Balaji Tele films. How would you describe this person’s personality? One of the researched areas of entrepreneurship has been the search to determine what, if any, psychological characteristics entrepreneurs have in common; what types of personality traits entrepreneurs have that might distinguish him from non-entrepreneurs and what traits entrepreneurs have that might predict who will be successful.

Can the classic entrepreneurial personality be described? Although tying to pinpoint specific personality characteristics that all entrepreneurs share is difficult, entrepreneurship researchers continue to look for common traits. For instance one list of personality characteristics included the following: high level of motivation, abundance of self confidence ability to be involved for the long term, high energy level, persistent problem solver, high degree of initiative ability to set goals, and moderate risk taker. Another list of characteristics of successful entrepreneurs included high energy level, great persistence, resourcefulness, the desire and ability to be self directed and relatively high need for autonomy. A recent development in defining entrepreneurial personality characteristics was the proposed use of a proactive personality scale to predict an individual’s likelihood of pursing entrepreneurial ventures called proactive personality. Proactive describes those individuals who are prone to take action to influence their environment. Obviously, an entrepreneur is likely to exhibit pro-activity as he or she searches for opportunities and acts to take advantage of those opportunities,. Various items on the proactive personality scale, which included education and having an entrepreneurial parent, were found to be good indicators of a person’s likelihood of becoming an entrepreneur.