In this chapter, we explore three related aspects of individuals that affect behavior in organizations: perceptions, attitudes, and personality. First, we discuss perception. We then explore the attributions that people make to explain the behaviors of themselves and others and the attribution process. The chapter closes with a discussion of personality and personality types. Understanding these basic individual differences should help managers to better understand behavior in organizations.
Perceptions are important because we act based on our interpretation of events. Likewise, at other times we fail to take action because of those same perceptions. So when faced with the same objective events, we may see different things. Perception—like beauty—is in the eye of the beholder. This doesn’t mean that perception is so idiosyncratic that it is not worth studying. To the contrary, it’s a critical building block for effective behavior management.
Individuals use five senses to experience the environment: sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell. Organizing the information from the environment so that it makes sense is called perception. Perception is a cognitive process. Perception helps individuals select, organize, store, and interpret stimuli into a meaningful and coherent picture of the world. Because each person gives his own meaning to stimuli, different individuals “see” the same thing in different ways (Nicholson, 1998). The way an employee sees a situation