COMM292 Organizational Behaviour:Apply Trait Activation Theory

Q:  Apply trait activation theory to explain how high and low levels of different personality traits can facilitate or impede observational learning.Be sure to identify and discuss two personality traits in your answer and explain the rationale for your choices based on trait activation theory. around 250 words not more Applying a concept or theory is saying how it fits, or does not fit, in a particular situation, or how a situation is consistent or not with what a concept or theory says and giving examples to support your point.

-Personality: the relatively stable set of psychological characteristics that influences the way an individual interacts with his or her environment and how he or she feels, thinks, and behaves.

-An individual’s personality summarizes his or her personal style of dealing with the world.

-Initially it was believed that personality was an important factor in many areas of organizational behaviour, including motivation, attitudes, performance, and leadership.

-This approach to organizational behaviour is known as the dispositional approach because it focuses on individual dispositions and personality.

-Dispositional approach: individuals possess stable traits or characteristics that influence their attitudes and behaviours.

-In other words, individuals are predisposed to behave in certain ways

-There was then a shift to focusing on factors in the work environment that might predict and explain organizational behaviour.

-This approach became known as situational approach

-Situational approach: characteristics of the organizational setting influence people’s attitude and behaviour.

-Interactionist approach: individuals’ attitudes and behaviour are a function of both dispositions and the situation. A combination of dispositional and situational approach.

-Trait activation theory: traits lead to certain behaviours only when the situation makes the need for the trait salient. In other words, personality characteristics influence people’s behaviour when the situation calls for a particular personality characteristic.

Five-Factor Model of Personality

-Five dimensions that describe personality

o Extraversion: the extent to which a person is outgoing vs. shy

o Emotional stability/neuroticism: the degree to which a person has appropriate emotional control. People with high emotional stability (low neuroticism) are self-confident and have high self-esteem. Those with lower emotional stability (high neuroticism) tend toward self-doubt and depression, and tend to be anxious, hostile, impulsive, depressed, insecure, and more prone to stress.

o Agreeableness: the extent to which a person is friendly and approachable.

o Conscientiousness: the degree to which a person is responsible and achievement oriented. More conscientious people are dependable and positively motivated. They are orderly, self-disciplined, hard-working, and achievement striving, while less conscientious people are irresponsible, lazy, and impulsive.

o Openness to experience: the extent to which a person thinks flexibly and is receptive to new ideas. More open people tend toward creativity and innovation, less open people favour the status quo.

Locus of Control

-Locus of control: a set of beliefs about whether one’s behaviour is controlled mainly by internal or external forces.

-Internals tend to see stronger links between the effort they put into their jobs/school/physical activity and the performance level that they achieve.


-The extent to which people observe and regulate how they appear and behave in social settings and relationships

-Low self-monitors are not concerned with scoping out and fitting in with those around them.

-High self-monitors take great care to observe the thoughts, actions, and feelings of those around them and control the images that they project.


-The extent to which a person has a positive self-evaluation

-People with high self-esteem have favourable self-images, those with low self-esteem have unfavourable self-images.

-One of the differences between people with high and low self-esteem has to do with the plasticity of their thoughts, attitudes, and behaviour, or what is known as behavioural plasticity.

-Behavioural plasticity theory: people with low self-esteem tend to be more susceptible to external and social influences than those with high self-esteem.

Positive and Negative Affectivity

-Positive affectivity: propensity to view the world, including oneself and other people, in a positive light

-Negative affectivity: propensity to view the world, including oneself and other people, in a negative light

-Both are emotional dispositions that predict people’s general emotional tendencies.

Proactive Personality

-Proactive behaviour: taking initiative to improve current circumstances or creating new ones

-Proactive personality: a stable personal disposition that reflects a tendency to take personal initiative across a range of activities and situations and to affect positive change in one’s environment.

-Proactive individuals search for and identify opportunities, show initiative, take action, and persevere until they bring about meaningful change

-People who do not have a proactive personality are more likely to be passive and to react and adapt to their environment, and, as a result, tend to endure and be shaped by the environment instead of trying to change it.

General Self-Efficacy

-A general trait that refers to an individual’s belief in his or her ability to perform successfully in a variety of challenging situations.

-General self efficacy is considered to be a motivational trait rather than an affective trait, because it reflects an individual’s belief that he or she can succeed at a variety of tasks rather than how an individual feels about him/herself.

Core self-evaluations

-A broad personality concept that consists of more specific traits that reflect the evaluations people hold about themselves and their self-worth

-Four traits that make up a person’s core self-evaluation: self-esteem, general selfefficacy, locus in control, and neuroticism (emotional stability).

Module 2: Learning

What is learning?

-Learning is a relatively permanent change in behaviour potential that occurs due to practice or experience

-Employees learn: practical skills, intrapersonal skills, interpersonal skills, and cultural awareness.

Operant learning theory

-Learning by which the subject learns to operate on the environment to achieve certain consequences.

-Eg: rats confined in a box learning to pull a lever that dispenses food

Increasing probability of behaviour

-Reinforcement: the process by which stimuli strengthen behaviours

-Positive reinforcement: the application or addition of a stimulus that increases or maintains the probability of some behaviour

-Negative reinforcement: the removal of a stimulus that in turn increases or maintains the probability of some behaviour

-Performance feedback: providing quantitative or qualitative information on past performance for the purpose of changing or maintaining performance in specific ways.

-Social recognition: informal acknowledgement, attention, praise, approval, or genuine appreciation for work well done from one individual or group to another

-To obtain the fast acquisition of some response, continuous and immediate reinforcement should be used. The reinforcement should be applied every time the behaviour of interest occurs and without delay each time.

-Behaviour tends to be persistent when it is learned under conditions of partial and delayed reinforcement.

Reducing probability of behaviour

-Extinction: the gradual dissipation of behaviour following the termination of reinforcement

-Punishment: the application of an aversive stimulus following some behaviour designed to decrease the probability of that behaviour

Social Cognitive Theory

-Social cognitive theory: emphasizes the role of cognitive processes in learning and in the regulation of people’s behaviour.

-Unlike operant learning theory, social cognitive theory emphasizes the role of cognitive processes in regulating people’s behaviour

-According to SCT, people learn by observing the behaviour of others.

Observational Learning

-Observational learning: the process of observing and imitating the behaviour of others

Self-efficacy beliefs

-Refers to beliefs people have about their ability to successfully perform a specific task

-Because self-efficacy is a cognitive belief rather than a stable personality trait, it can bechanged and modified in response to different sources of information


-The use of learning principles to regulate one’s own behaviour

-According to social cognitive theory, employees can use learning principles to manage their own behaviour, making external control less necessary.

-The basic process involves observing one’s own behaviour (self-observation), comparing the behaviour with a standard (self-evaluation), and rewarding oneself if the behaviour meets the standard (self-reinforcement).

Organizational behaviour modification

-Involves the systematic use of learning principles to influence organizational behaviour Employee Recognition Programs

-Formal organizational programs that publicly recognize and reward employees for specific behaviours

-Peer recognition programs: formal programs in which employees can publicly acknowledge, recognize, and reward their coworkers for exceptional work and performance

Training and development programs

-Training is planned organizational activities that are designed to facilitate knowledge and skill acquisition to change behaviour and improve performance on one’s current job; development focuses on future job responsibilities.

-Training and development programs also teach employees non-technical skills such as how to work in teams, how to provide excellent customer service, and how to understand and appreciate cultural diversity.

-Behaviour modeling training: one of the most widely used and effective methods of training, involving five steps based on the observational learning component of social cognitive theory.

o Describe to trainees a set of well-defined behaviours (skills) to be learned

o Provide a model or models displaying the effective use of those behaviours

o Provide opportunities for trainees to practice using those behaviours

o Provide feedback and social reinforcement to trainees following practice

o Take steps to maximize the transfer of those behaviours to the job. 

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