Glossary of Key Terms

16 factors of personality

Raymond Cattell (1946, 1957) identified 16 factors or dimensions of personality: warmth, reasoning, emotional stability, dominance, liveliness, rule-consciousness, social boldness, sensitivity, vigilance, abstractedness, privateness, apprehension, openness to change, self-reliance, perfectionism, and tension. He developed a personality assessment based on these 16 factors, called the 16PF. See 8.3 Theories of Personality


According to Statistics Canada (2015), over 11 percent of Canadians experience pain, mobility, or flexibility challenges. These can be severe enough to require a wheelchair or other mobility aid, or they can be less severe but still make it difficult for people to do jobs that require some type of movement or labour. The next most common disability among Canadians was mental or psychological disabilities (3.9 percent). People with ability challenges can be a significant boost to the ability of an organization to reach its market. A main communication challenge that arises here is misunderstanding on the part of able-bodied people. Supportive communication with others seems to be the key for making employees feel at home. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Achievement-oriented leaders

Achievement-oriented leaders set goals for employees and encourage them to reach their goals. Their style challenges employees and focuses their attention on work-related goals. This style is likely to be effective when employees have both high levels of ability and high levels of achievement motivation. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Acquired needs theory

Acquired-needs theory proposes that individuals acquire three types of needs as a result of their life experiences. These needs are the need for achievement, the need for affiliation, and the need for power. See 4.2 Need-Based Theories of Motivation

Active management by exception

Active management by exception involves leaving employees to do their jobs without interference, but at the same time proactively predicting potential problems and preventing them from occurring. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership


The adjourning stage is the fifth (and last) stage of Bruce Tuckman's model of group development. As typically happens, all groups will eventually have to move on to new assignments. In the adjourning stage, members leave the group. The group may cease to exist or it may be transformed with new members and a new set of goals. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle

Affective events theory

This connection between emotions, attitudes, and behaviours at work may be explained using a theory named Affective Events Theory (AET). The theory argues that specific events on the job cause different kinds of people to feel different emotions. These emotions, in turn, inspire actions that can benefit or impede others at work. See 3.3 Emotions at Work


Agreeableness is the degree to which a person is nice, tolerant, sensitive, trusting, kind, and warm. In other words, people who are high in agreeableness are likeable people who get along with others. Not surprisingly, agreeable people help others at work consistently, and this helping behaviour is not dependent on being in a good mood. See 8.3 Theories of Personality

Analysis paralysis

The availability of too much information can lead to analysis paralysis, in which more and more time is spent on gathering information and thinking about it, but no decisions actually get made. See 7.2 Decision-making Models

Anchoring bias

Anchoring bias refers to the tendency for individuals to rely too heavily on a single piece of information. Job seekers often fall into this trap by focusing on a desired salary while ignoring other aspects of the job offer such as additional benefits, fit with the job, and working environment. See 7.3 Bias in Decision-making


An expression of gender, androgyny is the term we use to identify gendered behavior that lies between feminine and masculine. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Appointed leaders

An appointed leader is designated by an authority to serve in that capacity, irrespective of the thoughts or wishes of the group. They may serve as the leader and accomplish all the designated tasks, but if the group does not accept their role as leader, it can prove to be a challenge. See 10.1 Leadership vs. Management


Attitudes are favorable or unfavorable opinions toward people, things, or situations. Many things affect our attitudes, including the environment we were brought up in and our individual experiences. Our personalities and values play a large role in our attitudes as well. See 8.1 Personality

Authentic leadership

The authentic leadership approach embraces this value: Its key advice is “be yourself.” Think about it: we all have different backgrounds, different life experiences, and different role models. These trigger events over the course of our lifetime that shape our values, preferences, and priorities. Instead of trying to fit into societal expectations about what a leader should be, act like, or look like, authentic leaders derive their strength from their own past experiences. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership


Authoritarianism refers to an individual’s orientation toward authority. More specifically, an authoritarian orientation is generally characterized by an overriding conviction that it is right and proper for there to be clear status and power differences among people. See 8.4 Personality at Work

Autobiographical memory

Remembering specific events that have happened over the course of one’s entire life (e.g., your experiences in sixth grade) can be referred to as autobiographical memory. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory

Basic emotions

Basic emotions are rapid information-processing systems that help us act with minimal thinking. See 3.1 Functions of Emotions

Behavioural approach

When trait researchers became disillusioned in the 1940s, their attention turned to studying leader behaviours. Research led to the discovery of two broad categories of behaviours  - task vs people-oriented behaviours. That is to say the extent to which a leader is focussed on the task at hand compared to the relationships. At the time, researchers thought that these two categories of behaviours were the keys to the puzzle of leadership. When we look at the overall findings regarding these leadership behaviours, it seems that both types of behaviours, in the aggregate, are beneficial to organizations, but for different purposes. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Behavioural self-management

Behavioral self-management (or BSM) is the process of modifying one’s own behavior by systematically managing cues, cognitive processes, and contingent consequences. See 5.5 Learning at Work

Behavioural tests

Behavioural tests infer important personality characteristics from direct samples of behavior .For example, Funder and Colvin (1988) brought opposite-sex pairs of participants into the laboratory and had them engage in a five-minute “getting acquainted” conversation; raters watched videotapes of these interactions and then scored the participants on various personality characteristics. See 8.2 Measuring Personality 


Bias is subjective opinion, preference, prejudice, or inclination, either for or against an individual or group, formed without reasonable justification that influences an individual’s or group’s ability to evaluate a particular situation objectively or accurately. See 11.1 Diversity and Inclusion

Big 5 (five factor)

The Five Factor Model is the most popular theory in personality psychology today and the most accurate approximation of the basic personality dimensions. The five factors are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. A helpful way to remember the factors is by using the mnemonic OCEAN. See 8.3 Theories of Personality

Bounded rationality model

The bounded rationality model of decision making recognizes the limitations of our decision-making processes. According to this model, individuals knowingly limit their options to a manageable set and choose the first acceptable alternative without conducting an exhaustive search for alternatives. See 7.2 Decision-making Models


Brainstorming is a group process of generating ideas that follow a set of guidelines, including no criticism of ideas during the brainstorming process, the idea that no suggestion is too crazy, and building on other ideas (piggybacking). See 7.2 Decision-making Models

Cannon-Bard theory

According to the Cannon-Bard theory of emotion, the experience of an emotion is accompanied by physiological arousal. Thus, according to this model of emotion, as we become aware of danger, our heart rate also increases. See 3.2 The Experience of Emotion

Case studies

Case studies are in-depth descriptions of a single industry or company. Case writers typically employ a systematic approach to gathering data and explaining an event or situation in great detail. See 1.3 OB Research Methods

Central traits

Central traits are those that make up our personalities (such as loyal, kind, agreeable, friendly, sneaky, wild, and grouchy). See 8.3 Theories of Personality


Charisma refers to behaviours leaders demonstrate that create confidence in, commitment to, and admiration for the leader. Charismatic individuals have a “magnetic” personality that is appealing to followers. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Cisgender (gender identity)

An individual is said to be cisgender if the gender that they identify is consistent the sex that they were assigned at birth. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Classical conditioning

Classical conditioning is the process whereby a stimulus-response (S-R) bond is developed between a conditioned stimulus and a conditioned response through the repeated linking of a conditioned stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus. See 5.2 Classical Conditioning

Code of conduct

The code of conduct is a guideline for dealing with ethics in the organization. The code of conduct can outline many things, and often companies offer training in one or more areas. See 12.2 Ethics

Cognitive appraisal

The cognitive interpretations that accompany emotions— known as cognitive appraisal — allow us to experience a much larger and more complex set of secondary emotions.  See 3.2 The Experience of Emotion

Cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is a term that refers to a mismatch among emotions, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour, for example, believing that you should always be polite to a customer regardless of personal feelings, yet having just been rude to one. See 3.3 Emotions at Work


Cohesion can be thought of as a kind of social glue. It refers to the degree of camaraderie within the group. Cohesive groups are those in which members are attached to each other and act as one unit. Generally speaking, the more cohesive a group is, the more productive it will be and the more rewarding the experience will be for the group’s members. See 9.2 Characteristics of Effective Groups

Collective efficacy

Collective efficacy refers to a group’s perception of its ability to successfully perform well. Collective efficacy is influenced by a number of factors, including watching others (“that group did it and we’re better than them”), verbal persuasion (“we can do this”), and how a person feels (“this is a good group”). See 9.2 Characteristics of Effective Groups

Collectivist cultures

Collectivist cultures, such as many in Asia and South America, focus on the needs of the nation, community, family, or group of workers. Ownership and private property is one way to examine this difference. See 11.4 Culture

Command/functional groups

When the group is permanent, it is usually called a command group or functional group. An example would be the sales department in a company. See 9.1 Groups and Teams

Common good approach

The common good approach says that when making ethical decisions, we should try to benefit the community as a whole. See 12.2 Ethics


Communication is the process of generating meaning by sending and receiving verbal and nonverbal symbols and signs that are influenced by multiple contexts. See 2.1 Communication Defined

Communication apprehension

Communication apprehension (CA) is fear or anxiety experienced by a person due to actual or imagined communication with another person or persons. CA includes multiple forms of communication, not just public speaking. See 2.4 Communication Competence

Communication competence

Communication competence refers to the knowledge of effective and appropriate communication patterns and the ability to use and adapt that knowledge in various contexts. See 2.4 Communication Competence

Conditioned response

In classical conditioning, the conditioned response is the learned response to the previously neutral stimulus. For example, the smell of food is an unconditioned stimulus, salivating in response to the smell is an unconditioned response, and the sound of a bell when you smell the food is the conditioned stimulus. The conditioned response would be feeling hungry when you heard the sound of the whistle. See 5.2 Classical Conditioning

Conditioned stimulus

In classical conditioning, the conditioned stimulus is a previously neutral stimulus that, after becoming associated with the unconditioned stimulus, eventually comes to trigger a conditioned response. See 5.2 Classical Conditioning


Consolidation: is defined as the neural changes that occur after learning to create the memory trace of an experience. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory


Conscientiousness refers to the degree to which a person is organized, systematic, punctual, achievement oriented, and dependable. Conscientiousness is the one personality trait that uniformly predicts how high a person’s performance will be, across a variety of occupations and jobs. See 8.3 Theories of Personality

Contingency approach

After the disappointing results of trait and behavioural approaches, several scholars developed leadership theories that specifically incorporated the role of the environment. Specifically, researchers started following a contingency approach to leadership—rather than trying to identify traits or behaviours that would be effective under all conditions, the attention moved toward specifying the situations under which different styles would be effective. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Contingency rewards

Contingent rewards mean rewarding employees for their accomplishments. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Creating shared value

Creating shared value (CSV) is the premise that companies and the community are tied closely together, and if one benefits, they both benefit. For example, if companies donate money to schools, it actually benefits both the community and the company in that a better educated workforce can be profitable for the company in the long run. See 12.3 Social Responsibility

Creative decision-making model

Creative decision making is a vital part of being an effective decision maker. With the flattening of organizations and intense competition among companies, individuals and organizations are driven to be creative in decisions ranging from cutting costs to generating new ways of doing business. See 7.2 Decision-making Models


Creativity is the generation of new, imaginative ideas. See 7.2 Decision-making Models

Crucial conversations

Crucial conversations are discussions where not only the stakes are high but also where opinions vary and emotions run strong between parties. See 2.1 Communication Defined

Cue overload principle

To be effective, a retrieval cue cannot be overloaded with too many memories: this is known as the cue overload principle. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory

Cultural context

Cultural context includes various aspects of identities such as race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, and ability. See 2.2 The Communication Process

Cultural display rules

Cultural display rules are rules that are learned early in life that specify the management and modification of our emotional expressions according to social circumstances. See 3.1 Functions of Emotions

Culture competency

Cultural competency can be defined as the ability to recognize and adapt to cultural differences and similarities. It involves (a) the cultivation of deep cultural self-awareness and understanding (i.e., how one’s own beliefs, values, perceptions, interpretations, judgments, and behaviors are influenced by one’s cultural community or communities) and (b) increased cultural other-understanding (i.e., comprehension of the different ways people from other cultural groups make sense of and respond to the presence of cultural differences. See 11.4 Culture


Cyberslacking is the non-work-related use of social media while on the job, and it's seen as a problem in many organizations and workplaces. However, some research shows that occasional use of technology for personal reasons while at work can have positive effects, as it may relieve boredom, help reduce stress, or lead to greater job satisfaction. See 12.1 Professionalism


Decision-making is the action or process of thinking through possible options and selecting one. See 7.1 Understanding Decision-making

Deep acting

Deep acting takes surface acting one step further. This time, instead of faking an emotion that a customer may want to see, an employee will actively try to experience the emotion they are displaying. This genuine attempt at empathy helps align the emotions one is experiencing with the emotions one is displaying. The children’s hairdresser may empathize with the toddler by imagining how stressful it must be for one so little to be constrained in a chair and be in an unfamiliar environment, and the hairdresser may genuinely begin to feel sad for the child. See 3.3 Emotions at Work

Deep-level diversity

Deep-level diversity, on the other hand, reflects differences that are less visible, like personality, attitude, beliefs, and values. These attributes are generally communicated verbally and non-verbally, so they are not easily noticeable or measurable. See 11.1 Diversity and Inclusion

Democratic leaders

A democratic leader is elected or chosen by the group but may also face serious challenges. If individual group members or constituent groups feel neglected or ignored, they may assert that the democratic leader does not represent their interests. See 10.1 Leadership vs. Management


Dependability refers to people's behavioral consistency. Individuals who are seen as self-reliant, responsible, consistent, and dependable are typically considered to be desirable colleagues or group members who will cooperate and work steadfastly toward group goals. See 8.4 Personality at Work

Direct vs indirect communication

In North America, business correspondence is expected to be short and to the point. “What can I do for you?” is a common question when an employee receives a call from a stranger. It is an accepted way of asking the caller to skip or minimize pleasantries and get on with their business. In indirect cultures, such as in Latin America, business conversations may start with discussions of the weather, family, or topics other than the business at hand as the partners get a sense of each other long before the main topic is raised. Again, the skilled business communicator researches the new environment before entering it because an avoidable social faux pas, or error, can have a significant impact. See 11.4 Culture

Directive leaders

Directive leaders provide specific directions to their employees. They lead employees by clarifying role expectations, setting schedules, and making sure that employees know what to do on a given work day. The theory predicts that the directive style will work well when employees are experiencing role ambiguity on the job. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership


Discrimination is defined as the unequal treatment of groups or individuals with a history of marginalization either by a person or a group or an institution which, through the denial of certain rights, results in inequality, subordination and/or deprivation of political, education, social, economic, and cultural rights. See 11.1 Diversity and Inclusion


Distinctiveness refers to having an event stand out as quite different from a background of similar events -- this is key to remembering events. In addition, when vivid memories are tinged with strong emotional content, they often seem to leave a permanent mark on us. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory

Distributive justice

Distributive justice refers to the degree to which the outcomes received from the organization are perceived to be fair. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories


Diversity is the presence of differences among individuals in a group in terms of various aspects (e.g., gender, attraction, race, class, ability, etc.) that may create advantages or barriers to opportunities and resources because of historical and ongoing systems of oppression. See 11.1 Diversity and Inclusion


Dogmatism refers to a particular cognitive style that is characterized by closed-mindedness and inflexibility. This dimension has particularly profound implications for managerial decision-making; it is found that dogmatic managers tend to make decisions quickly, based on only limited information and with a high degree of confidence in the correctness of their decisions. See 8.4 Personality at Work

Emergent leaders

An emergent leader contrasts the first two paths to the role ( see Democratic leaders and Emergent leaders) by growing into the role, often out of necessity. The appointed leader may know little about the topic or content, and group members will naturally look to the senior member with the most experience for leadership. See 10.1 Leadership vs. Management

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence looks at how people can understand each other more completely by developing an increased awareness of their own and others’ emotions. See 3.3 Emotions at Work

Emotional labour

Emotional labor refers to the regulation of feelings and expressions for organizational purposes. There are three major levels of emotional labor: surface acting, deep acting, and genuine acting. See 3.3 Emotions at Work


Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes, whether that individual has achieved a major triumph or fallen short of personal goals. See 3.3 Emotions at Work

Employee empowerment

Employee empowerment involves management allowing us to make decisions and act upon those decisions, with the support of the organization. When we are not micromanaged and have the power to determine the sequence of our own work day, we tend to be more satisfied than those employees who are not empowered. See 4.4 Influencing Motivation at Work


Encoding refers to the initial experience of perceiving and learning information. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory


Encoding specificity principle

The encoding specificity principle suggests that when people encode information, they do so in specific ways. In general, the encoding specificity principle states that, to the extent a retrieval cue (a song) matches or overlaps the memory trace of an experience ( at a party, or a conversation), it will be effective in evoking the memory. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory


Psychologists (and neurobiologists) say that experiences leave memory traces, or engrams (the two terms are synonyms). We encode each of our experiences within the structures of the nervous system, making new impressions in the process—and each of those impressions involves changes in the brain. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory

Episodic memory

Episodic memory is the ability to remember the episodes of our lives. If you were given the task of recalling everything you did 2 days ago, that would be a test of episodic memory; you would be required to mentally travel through the day in your mind and note the main events. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory

Equity theory

According to equity theory, individuals are motivated by a sense of fairness in their interactions. Moreover, our sense of fairness is a result of the social comparisons we make. Specifically, we compare our inputs and outcomes with other people’s inputs and outcomes. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories

ERG theory

ERG theory, developed by Clayton Alderfer, is a modification of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Alderfer, 1969). Instead of the five needs that are hierarchically organized, Alderfer proposed that basic human needs may be grouped under three categories, namely, existence, relatedness, and growth. See 4.2 Need-Based Theories of Motivation

Escalation of commitment

Escalation of commitment occurs when individuals continue on a failing course of action after information reveals it may be a poor path to follow. It is sometimes called the “sunken costs fallacy,” because continuation is often based on the idea that one has already invested in the course of action. See 7.3 Bias in Decision-making


The word “ethics” actually is derived from the Greek word ethos, which means the nature or disposition of a culture (OED, 1963). From this perspective, ethics then involves the moral center of a culture that governs behavior.  For our purposes, ethics is the judgmental attachment to whether something is good, right, or just. See 12.2 Ethics


Ethnicity refers to a person’s or people’s heritage and history, and involves shared cultural traditions and beliefs. Many Canadians identify with several ethnicities (-Canadian). There has been much debate about whether and how information about race and ethnicity in Canada should be tracked (if at all). See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity


If you’re ethnocentric in the sense of being fearful, intolerant, or even just avoidant towards those other cultures—be they on the other side of the planet, country, province, city, building, counter, or desk—you limit your opportunities for success in the globalized market. Even engaging other cultures with simplistic, preconceived notions informed by media stereotypes reducing everyone in a culture to a one-dimensional character or prop will similarly lead you into serious error. See 11.4 Culture

Excitation transfer

The principle of excitation transfer refers to the phenomenon that occurs when people who are already experiencing arousal from one event tend to also experience unrelated emotions more strongly. See 3.2 The Experience of Emotion


Excuse-making occurs any time an individual attempts to shift the blame for an individual’s behavior from reasons more central to the individual to sources outside of their control in the attempt to make themselves look better and more in control. See 12.1 Professionalism


The first question used in expectancy theory is Expectancy. This  question asks whether the person believes that high levels of effort will lead to outcomes of interest, such as performance or success. This perception is labeled expectancy. For example, do you believe that the effort you put forth in a class is related to performing well in that class? If you do, you are more likely to put forth effort. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories

Expectancy theory

According to expectancy theory, individual motivation to put forth more or less effort is determined by a rational calculation in which individuals evaluate their situation. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories


Extinction is used to decrease the frequency of negative behaviours. Extinction is the removal of rewards following negative behaviour. Sometimes, negative behaviours are demonstrated because they are being inadvertently rewarded. For example, it has been shown that when people are rewarded for their unethical behaviours, they tend to demonstrate higher levels of unethical behaviours. See 5.3 Operant Conditioning


Extraversion is the degree to which a person is outgoing, talkative, and sociable, and enjoys being in social situations. One of the established findings is that they tend to be effective in jobs involving sales. See 8.3 Theories of Personality

Facial feedback hypothesis

The facial feedback hypothesis proposes that the movement of our facial muscles can trigger corresponding emotions. See 3.2 The Experience of Emotion


A faultline is an attribute along which a group is split into subgroups. For example, in a group with three female and three male members, gender may act as a faultline because the female members may see themselves as separate from the male members. See 11.3 Diversity in the Workplace – Benefits and Challenges

Feminine (gender expression)

While sex is a biological category, gender is, the social construction of masculinity or femininity as it aligns with designated sex at birth in a specific culture and time period. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Feminine orientation

Hofstede et al. (2010) describe the masculine-feminine dichotomy not in terms of whether men or women hold the power in a given culture, but rather the extent to which that culture values certain traits that may be considered masculine or feminine. Thus, the modest, caring pole has been termed “feminine.” The women in feminine countries have the same modest, caring values as the men; in the masculine countries they are somewhat assertive and competitive, but not as much as the men, so that these countries show a gap between men’s values and women’s values. See 11.4 Culture

Field studies

Field studies are an effective ways to learn about what is truly going on within organizations.  Compelling evidence comes from field studies that employ an experimental design. See 1.3 OB Research Methods

Fixed ratio

In a fixed-ratio schedule, the reward is administered only upon the completion of a given number of desired responses. In other words, rewards are tied to performance in a ratio of rewards to results. A common example of the fixed-ratio schedule is a piece-rate pay system, whereby employees are paid for each unit of output they produce. See 5.3 Operant Conditioning

Flashbulb memory

The term flashbulb memory was originally coined by Brown and Kulik (1977) to describe this sort of vivid memory of finding out an important piece of news. The name refers to how some memories seem to be captured in the mind like a flash photograph; because of the distinctiveness and emotionality of the news, they seem to become permanently etched in the mind with exceptional clarity compared to other memories. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory


Flexibility refers to how different the ideas are from one another. If you are able to generate several distinct solutions to a problem, your decision-making process is high on flexibility. See 7.2 Decision-making Models


Fluency refers to the number of ideas a person is able to generate. See 7.2 Decision-making Models

Formal groups

Formal groups are work units that are prescribed by the organization. Examples of formal groups include sections of departments (such as the accounts receivable section of the accounting department), committees, or special project task forces. See 9.1 Groups and Teams


The forming stage is the first stage of Bruce Tuckman's model of group development and is the initiation of group formation. This stage is also called the orientation stage because individual group members come to know each other. Group members who are new to each other and can’t predict each other’s behavior can be expected to experience the stress of uncertainty. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle

Framing bias

Framing bias refers to the tendency of decision makers to be influenced by the way that a situation or problem is presented. For example, when making a purchase, customers find it easier to let go of a discount as opposed to accepting a surcharge, even though they both might cost the person the same amount of money. See 7.3 Bias in Decision-making

Friendship groups

Friendship groups consist of people you like to be around (a type of Informal groups). See 9.1 Groups and Teams


Gender is the social construction of masculinity or femininity as it aligns with designated sex at birth in a specific culture and time period.. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Genuine acting

Genuine acting occurs when individuals are asked to display emotions that are aligned with their own. If a job requires genuine acting, less emotional labor is required because the actions are consistent with true feelings. See 3.3 Emotions at Work

Goal theory

Goal theory states that people will perform better if they have difficult, specific, accepted performance goals or objectives. The first and most basic premise of goal theory is that people will attempt to achieve those goals that they intend to achieve. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories

Group communication

Group communication may be defined as the exchange of information with those who are alike culturally, linguistically, and/or geographically. Group members may be known by their symbols, such as company logos or work uniforms. They may be known by their use of specialized language or jargon, See 9.5 Group Communication

Group socialization

Group socialization involves how the group members interact with one another and form relationships. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle


A group is a collection of individuals who interact with each other such that one person’s actions have an impact on the others. See 9.1 Groups and Teams


Groupthink is a group pressure phenomenon that increases the risk of the group making flawed decisions by allowing reductions in mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment. Groupthink is most common in highly cohesive groups). See 9.4 Group Decision-making


Hardiness is the tendency to be less affected by life’s stressors and it can be characterized as an individual-difference measure that has a relationship to both optimism and self-efficacy. Hardy individuals are those who are more positive overall about potentially stressful life events, who take more direct action to understand the causes of negative events, and who attempt to learn from them what may be of value for the future. Hardy individuals use effective coping strategies, and they take better care of themselves. See 3.4 How to Feel Better: Coping With Negative Emotions


Heritability refers to the proportion of difference among people that is attributed to genetics. Some of the traits that the study reported as having more than a 0.50 heritability ratio include leadership, obedience to authority, a sense of well-being, alienation, resistance to stress, and fearfulness. See 8.1 Personality


In programmed decisions, heuristics are mental shortcuts to help reach a decision. For example,  a retail store manager may not know how busy the store will be the week of a big sale, but might routinely increase staff by 30% every time there is a big sale (because this has been fairly effective in the past). See 7.1 Understanding Decision-making

Hidden diversity

Hidden diversity includes traits that are deep-level but may be concealed or revealed at the discretion of individuals who possess them. These hidden traits are called invisible social identities (Clair et al., 2005) and may include sexual orientation, a hidden disability (such as a mental illness or chronic disease), racial heritage or socioeconomic status. See 11.1 Diversity and Inclusion

High-power distance

In a high-power distance culture, you’d probably be much less likely to challenge the decision, to provide an alternative, or to give input to someone superior to you in the social hierarchy. When working with people from a high-power distance culture, you may need to take extra care to offer feedback and even wait to approach them on their terms because their cultural framework may discourage such a casual attitude to authority. See 11.4 Culture

Hindsight bias

Hindsight bias is the opposite of overconfidence bias, as it occurs when looking backward in time and mistakes seem obvious after they have already occurred. In other words, after a surprising event occurred, many individuals are likely to think that they already knew the event was going to happen. This bias may occur because they are selectively reconstructing the events. See 7.3 Bias in Decision-making

Honeymoon effect

The tendency for informants to produce unrealistically positive ratings has been termed the honeymoon effect when applied to newlyweds (refer to the Letter of Recommendation Effect as well). See 8.2 Measuring Personality 

Hygiene factors and motivators

Hygiene factors are things that cause dissatisfaction of workers because they are part of the context in which the job was performed, as opposed to the job itself. Hygiene factors included company policies, supervision, working conditions, salary, safety, and security on the job.

Motivators are factors that are intrinsic to the job, such as achievement, recognition, interesting work, increased responsibilities, advancement, and growth opportunities. Motivators are the conditions that truly encourage employees to try harder. See 4.2 Need-Based Theories of Motivation


Illumination is the insight moment when the solution to the problem becomes apparent to the person, sometimes when it is least expected. See 7.2 Decision-making Models


Immersion is the step in which the decision maker consciously thinks about the problem and gathers information. See 7.2 Decision-making Models

Implicit tests

Implicit personality are tests based on the assumption that people form automatic or implicit associations between certain concepts based on their previous experience and behavior. If two concepts (e.g., me and assertive) are strongly associated with each other, then they should be sorted together more quickly and easily than two concepts (e.g., me and shy) that are less strongly associated. See 8.2 Measuring Personality


During incubation, the individual sets the problem aside and does not think about it for a while. At this time, the brain is actually working on the problem unconsciously. See 7.2 Decision-making Models

Individual social responsibility

ISR (individual social responsibility) is defined as an individual being aware of how personal actions have an effect on the community.  See 12.3 Social Responsibility

Individualistic cultures

People in individualistic cultures value individual freedom and personal independence as reflected in the stories they tell themselves. See 11.4 Culture

Informal groups

Informal groups evolve naturally out of individual and collective self-interest among the members of an organization and are not the result of deliberate organizational design. See 9.1 Groups and Teams

Informant ratings

Informant ratings ask someone who knows a person well to describe their personality characteristics. Informant ratings are similar in format to self-ratings. As was the case with self-report, items may consist of single words, short phrases, or complete sentences. Informant ratings are particularly valuable when self-ratings are impossible to collect or when their validity is suspect. They also may be combined with self-ratings of the same characteristics to produce more reliable and valid measures of these attributes. See 8.2 Measuring Personality 


Inputs are the contributions people feel they are making to the environment. For example, a person’s hard work, loyalty to the organization, amount of time with the organization;, and level of education, training, and skills may be relevant inputs to consider. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories

Instrumental values

Instrumental values deal with views on acceptable modes of conduct, such as being honest and ethical, and being ambitious. See 8.1 Personality


The second question of used in expectancy theory is Instrumentality: this refers to the degree to which the person believes that performance is related to subsequent outcomes, such as rewards. For example, do you believe that getting a good grade in the class is related to rewards such as getting a better job, or gaining approval from your instructor, or from your friends or parents? If you do, you are more likely to put forth effort. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories

Interactional justice

Interactional justice refers to the degree to which people are treated with respect, kindness, and dignity in interpersonal interactions. We expect to be treated with dignity by our peers, supervisors, and customers. When the opposite happens, we feel angry. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories

Intercultural communication

All communication is intercultural. Always approach intercultural communication as an opportunity to overcome cultural differences and achieve the cross-cultural understanding you need to be a better person and do your job effectively in a multicultural environment. Communication requires an open attitude to understanding and accommodating cultural differences in the workplace to make business connections. See 11.4 Culture

Interest groups

Interest groups consist of a network of working women or minority managers. Interest groups often dissolve as people’s interests change. See 9.1 Groups and Teams

Internal policy issues

Internal policy issues are the third level of ethical issues. This includes things like pay and how employees are treated. See 12.2 Ethics

Interpersonal functions of emotions

Interpersonal functions of emotion refers to the role emotions play between individuals within a group. See 3.1 Functions of Emotions


According to the Intersex Society of North America, “intersex” is a general term used when a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY. It is important to note that male, female, and intersex aren’t discrete categories, just labels based on social convention. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Intrapersonal functions of emotions

Intrapersonal functions of emotion, which refer to the role that emotions play within each of us individually. See 3.1 Functions of Emotions

Introversion and extroversion

Introverts (introversion) tend to focus their energies inwardly and have a greater sensitivity to abstract feelings, whereas extroverts (extroversion) direct more of their attention to other people, objects, and events. Research evidence suggests that both types of people have a role to play in organizations. See 8.4 Personality at Work

Intuitive decision-making model

The intuitive decision-making model has emerged as an alternative to other decision making processes. This model refers to arriving at decisions without conscious reasoning. See 7.2 Decision-making Models

James-Lange theory

According to the James-Lange theory of emotion, our experience of an emotion is the result of the arousal that we experience. This approach proposes that the arousal and the emotion are not independent, but rather that the emotion depends on the arousal. The fear does not occur along with the racing heart but occurs because of the racing heart. See 3.2 The Experience of Emotion

Job enrichment

Job enrichment means to enhance a job by adding more meaningful tasks to make our work more rewarding. For example, if we as retail salespersons are good at creating eye-catching displays, allowing us to practice these skills and assignment of tasks around this could be considered job enrichment. See 4.4 Influencing Motivation at Work

Law of effect

The Law of Effect was a precursor to B.F. Skinner's operant conditioning, and was developed by psychologist Edward Thorndike. The Law of Effect states that responses that receive positive outcomes in a given situation will be repeated in that situation, while responses that lead to negative outcomes in a given situation will not be repeated in that situation. See 5.3 Operant Conditioning


Leadership does not require specific titles. Consider the last group project you worked on for school. It was likely that someone took on the leadership role for this project, such as coordinating schedules, e-mailing the team, and so forth. This person did not have a formal title but lead the group anyway. This is an example of leadership. See 10.1 Leadership vs. Management


Learning may be defined, for our purposes, as a relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience. See 5.1 Learning

Letter of recommendation effect

The tendency for informants to produce unrealistically positive ratings has been termed the letter of recommendation effect. See 8.2 Measuring Personality 

Locus of control

Locus of control refers to the tendency among individuals to attribute the events affecting their lives either to their own actions or to external forces; it is a measure of how much you think you control your own destiny. Two types of individual are identified. People with an internal locus of control tend to attribute their successes—and failures—to their own abilities and efforts. In contrast, people with an external locus of control tend to attribute things that happen to them as being caused by someone or something else. See 8.4 Personality at Work

Long-term orientation

Long-term oriented cultures such as in Asia value delayed gratification, perseverance, thrift and frugality, and a social hierarchy based on age and status. A sense of shame for the family and community is also observed across generations. What an individual does reflects on the family and is carried by immediate and extended family members. See 11.4 Culture

Low-power distance

How comfortable are you with critiquing your boss’s decisions? If you are from a low-power distance culture, your answer might be “no problem.” In low-power distance cultures, according to Hofstede, people relate to one another more as equals and less as a reflection of dominant or subordinate roles, regardless of their actual formal roles as employee and manager, for example. See 11.4 Culture


The term management implies someone has been given a position, and through that position or title they have power to guide others. See 10.1 Leadership vs. Management

Management by objective

Management by objectives (MBO) is a strategic management model that aims to improve the performance of an organization by clearly defining objectives that are agreed to by both management and employees.. MBO is based on goal theory and is quite effective when implemented consistently with goal theory’s basic premises. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories

Masculine (gender expression)

While sex is a biological category, gender is, the social construction of masculinity or femininity as it aligns with designated sex at birth in a specific culture and time period. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Masculine orientation

Hofstede et al. (2010) describe the masculine-feminine dichotomy not in terms of whether men or women hold the power in a given culture, but rather the extent to which that culture values certain traits that may be considered masculine or feminine. Thus, the assertive pole has been called “masculine” and the modest, caring pole “feminine.” See 11.4 Culture

Maslows' heirarchy

Abraham Maslow's theory is based on a simple premise: Human beings have needs that are hierarchically ranked. There are some needs that are basic to all human beings, and in their absence nothing else matters. As we satisfy these basic needs, we start looking to satisfy higher order needs. In other words, once a lower level need is satisfied, it no longer serves as a motivator. See 4.2 Need-Based Theories of Motivation


Members of a materialistic culture place emphasis on external goods and services as a representation of self, power, and social rank. See 11.4 Culture

Memory traces

Psychologists (and neurobiologists) say that experiences leave memory traces, or engrams (the two terms are synonyms). Memories have to be stored somewhere in the brain, so in order to do so, the brain biochemically alters itself and its neural tissue. See also Engrams in 6.2 Varieties of Memory


Meta-analysis is a technique used by researchers to summarize what other researchers have found on a given topic. This analysis is based on taking observed correlations from multiple studies, weighting them by the number of observations in each study, and finding out if, overall, the effect holds or not. See 1.3 OB Research Methods

Misattribution of arousal

The tendency for people to incorrectly label the source of the arousal that they are experiencing is known as the misattribution of arousal. See 3.2 The Experience of Emotion

Misinformation effect

This misinformation effect in eyewitness memory represents a type of retroactive interference that can occur during the retention interval. Of course, if correct information is given during the retention interval, the witness’s memory will usually be improved. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory

Mnemonic device

Mnemonic devices are memory aids or tricks to recall information. In a typical case, the person learns a set of cues and then applies these cues to learn and remember information. See 6.3 Putting it All Together: Improving Your Memory


Edward T. Hall and Mildred Reed Hall (1990) state that monochronic time-oriented cultures consider one thing at a time, whereas polychronic time-oriented cultures schedule many things at one time, and time is considered in a more fluid sense. In monochronic time, interruptions are to be avoided, and everything has its own specific time. See 11.4 Culture


Motivation is defined as the desire to achieve a goal or a certain performance level, leading to goal-directed behaviour. Motivation is one of the forces that lead to performance. When we refer to someone as being motivated, we mean that the person is trying hard to accomplish a certain task. Motivation is clearly important if someone is to perform well; however, it is not sufficient. See 4.1 Motivation

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Aside from the Big Five personality traits, perhaps the most well-known and most often used personality assessment is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Unlike the Big Five, which assesses traits, MBTI measures types. MBTI classifies people as one of 16 types. In MBTI, people are grouped using four dimensions. Based on how a person is classified on these four dimensions, it is possible to talk about 16 unique personality types, such as ESTJ and ISTP. See 8.3 Theories of Personality


Nationality refers to a people’s nation-state of residence or where they hold citizenship. Most often nationality is derived from the country where one was born, but on occasion people give up their citizenship by birth and migrate to a new country where they claim national identity. For example, an individual could have been born and raised in another country but once they migrate to the Canada and have citizenship, their nationality becomes Canadian. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity


Although there is debate between whether or not our personalities are inherent when we are born (nature) versus the way we grew up (nurture), most researchers agree that personality is usually a result of both nature and our environmental/education experiences. See 8.1 Personality

Negative reinforcement

Negative reinforcement is also used to increase the desired behaviour. Negative reinforcement involves removal of unpleasant outcomes once desired behaviour is demonstrated. Nagging an employee to complete a report is an example of negative reinforcement. See 5.3 Operant Conditioning


Neuroticism refers to the degree to which a person is anxious, irritable, aggressive, temperamental, and moody. These people have a tendency to have emotional adjustment problems and experience stress and depression on a habitual basis. People very high in neuroticism experience a number of problems at work. See 8.3 Theories of Personality

Non-programmed decisions

Nonprogrammed decisions are novel, unstructured decisions that are generally based on criteria that are not well-defined. With nonprogrammed decisions, information is more likely to be ambiguous or incomplete, and the decision maker may need to exercise some thoughtful judgment and creative thinking to reach a good solution. See 7.1 Understanding Decision-making

Nonverbal communication

Non-verbal communication elements include: body language, eye contact, facial expressions, posture., touch and space. Research also shows that 55% of in-person communication comes from nonverbal cues like facial expressions, body stance, and tone of voice. See 2.1 Communication Defined


The norming stage is the third stage of Bruce Tuckman's model of group development.  Groups that make a successful transition from the storming stage will next experience the norming stage, where the group establishes norms, or informal rules, for behavior and interaction. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle


Norms are social conventions that we pick up on through observation, practice, and trial and error. We may not even know we are breaking a social norm until we notice people looking at us strangely or someone corrects or teases us. See 2.2 The Communication Process

Objective tests

Objective tests represent the most familiar and widely used approach to assessing personality. Objective tests involve administering a standard set of items, each of which is answered using a limited set of response options (e.g., true or false; strongly disagree, slightly disagree, slightly agree, strongly agree). Responses to these items then are scored in a standardized, predetermined way. See 8.2 Measuring Personality 


Openness is the degree to which a person is curious, original, intellectual, creative, and open to new ideas. People high in openness seem to thrive in situations that require being flexible and learning new things. They are highly motivated to learn new skills, and they do well in training settings. See 8.3 Theories of Personality

Operant conditioning

Operant conditioning theory is the simplest of the motivation theories. It basically states that people will do those things for which they are rewarded and will avoid doing things for which they are punished. This premise is based on Thorndyke's “law of effect.” See 5.3 Operant Conditioning

Operational decisions

Operational decisions refer to decisions that employees make each day to make the organization run. See 7.1 Understanding Decision-making


Optimism is defined as a general tendency to expect positive outcomes; studies suggest that optimists are happier and have less stress . See 3.4 How to Feel Better: Coping With Negative Emotions

Organizational behavior

Organizational behavior (OB) is defined as the systematic study and application of knowledge about how individuals and groups act within the organizations where they work. See 1.2 What is Organizational Behaviour?

Organizational behaviour modification

A systematic way in which reinforcement theory principles are applied is called Organizational Behaviour Modification (or OB Mod). This is a systematic application of reinforcement theory to modify employee behaviours in the workplace. The model consists of five stages. See 5.5 Learning at Work


Originality refers to how unique a person’s ideas are. See 7.2 Decision-making Models


Outcomes are the perceived rewards someone can receive from the situation.  For example, the hourly wage for an employee could be a consideration. There may also be other, more peripheral outcomes, such as acknowledgment or preferential treatment from a manager. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories

Overconfidence bias

Overconfidence bias occurs when individuals overestimate their ability to predict future events. See 7.3 Bias in Decision-making

Participatory leaders

Participative leaders make sure that employees are involved in the making of important decisions. Participative leadership may be more effective when employees have high levels of ability, and when the decisions to be made are personally relevant to them. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Passive management by exception

Passive management by exception is similar in that it involves leaving employees alone, but in this method the manager waits until something goes wrong before coming to the rescue. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Path-goal theory

Robert House’s path-goal theory of leadership is based on the expectancy theory of motivation. The expectancy theory of motivation suggests that employees are motivated when they believe—or expect—that (a) their effort will lead to high performance, (b) their high performance will be rewarded, and (c) the rewards they will receive are valuable to them. According to the path-goal theory of leadership, the leader’s main job is to make sure that all three of these conditions exist. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership


The performing stage is the fourth stage of Bruce Tuckman's model of group development. In the performing stage, the group accomplishes its mandate, fulfills its purpose, and reaches its goals.. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle

Personal issues

Personal issues, our last level of ethical issues, refer to how we treat others within our organization. See 12.2 Ethics


Personality encompasses our relatively stable feelings, thoughts, and behavioural patterns. See 8.1 Personality


With business, family, and social life mixing more freely, polychronic time-oriented cultures tend to challenge the monochronic outsider. In Greece, Italy, Chile, and Saudi Arabia, for instance, business meetings may be scheduled at a certain time, but when they actually begin may be another story. See 11.4 Culture

Positive and negative affectivity

Behaviour is  function of moods and people can manifest by positive and negative affectivity traits. Positive affective people experience positive moods more frequently, whereas negative affective people experience negative moods with greater frequency. Negative affective people focus on the “glass half empty” and experience more anxiety and nervousness. Positive affective people tend to be happier at work, and their happiness spreads to the rest of the work environment. See 8.3 Theories of Personality

Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a method of increasing the desired behaviour (Beatty & Schneier, 1975). Positive reinforcement involves making sure that behaviour is met with positive consequences. For example, praising an employee for treating a customer respectfully is an example of positive reinforcement. See 5.3 Operant Conditioning

Proactive personality

Proactive personality refers to a person’s inclination to fix what is perceived as wrong, change the status quo, and use initiative to solve problems. Instead of waiting to be told what to do, proactive people take action to initiate meaningful change and remove the obstacles they face along the way. In general, having a proactive personality has a number of advantages for these people. For example, they tend to be more successful in their job searches. See 8.3 Theories of Personality

Problem identification

Problem identification is the step in which the need for problem solving becomes apparent. If you do not recognize that you have a problem, it is impossible to solve it. See 7.2 Decision-making Models

Procedural justice

Procedural justice refers to the degree to which fair decision-making procedures are used to arrive at a decision. People do not care only about reward fairness. They also expect decision-making processes to be fair. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories


A profession is an occupation that involves mastery of complex knowledge and skills through prolonged training, education, or practical experience. See 12.1 Professionalism


Professionalism involves the aims and behaviors that demonstrate an individual’s level of competence expected by a professional within a given profession. See 12.1 Professionalism

Programmed decisions

Programmed decisions are those that are repeated over time and for which an existing set of rules can be developed to guide the process. These decisions might be simple, or they could be fairly complex, but the criteria that go into making the decision are all known or can at least be estimated with a reasonable degree of accuracy. See 7.1 Understanding Decision-making

Projective tests

Projective tests originally were based on the projective hypothesis: If a person is asked to describe or interpret ambiguous stimuli—that is, things that can be understood in a number of different ways—their responses will be influenced by nonconscious needs, feelings, and experiences. Two prominent examples of projective tests are the Rorschach Inkblot Test and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). See 8.2 Measuring Personality 


Psychologist-practitioners, such as clinical, counselling, industrial-organizational, and school psychologists, use existing research to enhance the everyday life of others. See 1.1 Psychology Defined


The word “psychology” comes from the Greek words “psyche,” meaning life, and “logos,” meaning explanation. Formally defined, psychology is the scientific study of mind and behaviour. See Section 1.1 Psychology Defined

Punctuated equilibrium

The concept of punctuated equilibrium was first proposed in 1972 by paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould, who both believed that evolution occurred in rapid, radical spurts rather than gradually over time. In this model, revolutionary change occurs in brief, punctuated bursts, generally catalyzed by a crisis or problem that breaks through the systemic inertia and shakes up the deep organizational structures in place. At this point, the organization or group has the opportunity to learn and create new structures that are better aligned with current realities. Whether the group does this is not guaranteed. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle


Punishment is method of reducing the frequency of undesirable behaviours. Punishment involves presenting negative consequences following unwanted behaviours. Giving an employee a warning for consistently being late to work is an example of punishment. See 5.3 Operant Conditioning


Race is what we call a loaded word because it can bring up strong emotions and connotations. Understandings of race fall into two camps: a biological versus a sociopolitical construction of what it means to belong to a particular racial group. A biological construction of race claims that “pure” races existed and could be distinguished by such physical features as eye color and shape, skin color, and hair. Moreover, these differences could be traced back to genetic differences. This theory has been debunked by numerous scientists and been replaced with the understanding that there are greater genetic differences within racial groups, not between them. In addition, there is no scientific connection with racial identity and cultural traits or behaviors. From a biological standpoint, race is not a valid construct.

Instead of biology, we draw on a sociopolitical understanding of what it means to be of a particular race. This simply means that it is not a person’s DNA that places them into a particular racial grouping, but all of the other factors that create social relations—politics, geography, or migration. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Rational decision making

The rational decision-making model describes a series of steps that decision makers should consider if their goal is to maximize the quality of their outcomes. In other words, if you want to make sure that you make the best choice, going through the formal steps of the rational decision-making model may make sense. See 7.2 Decision-making Models

Reciprocal determinism

This concept implies that people control their own environment (for example, by quitting one’s job) as much as the environment controls people (for example, being laid off). Thus, learning is seen as a more active, interactive process in which the learner has at least some control. See 5.4 Social Learning Theory


The process of encoding always involves recoding—that is, taking the information from the form it is delivered to us and then converting it in a way that we can make sense of it. For example, you might try to remember the colors of a rainbow by using the acronym ROY G BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). See 6.2 Varieties of Memory

Reference groups

The reference group effect occurs when we base our self-perceptions, in part, on how we compare to others in our sociocultural reference group. For instance, if you tend to work harder than most of your friends, you will see yourself as someone who is relatively conscientious, even if you are not particularly conscientious in any absolute sense. See 8.2 Measuring Personality 


In equity theory, the referent other may be a specific person as well as a category of people. Referents should be comparable to us—otherwise the comparison is not meaningful. For example, it would be pointless for students workers to compare themselves to the CEO of the company, given the differences in the nature of inputs and outcomes. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories

Reflective and reactive systems

The human brain processes information for decision-making using one of two routes: a reflective system and a reactive (or reflexive) system. The reflective system is logical, analytical, deliberate, and methodical, while the reactive system is quick, impulsive, and intuitive, relying on emotions or habits to provide cues for what to do next.  See 7.1 Understanding Decision-making


A central feature of most approaches to learning is the concept of reinforcement. This concept dates from Thorndike’s law of effect. Hence, reinforcement can be defined as anything that causes a certain behavior to be repeated or inhibited. See 5.3 Operant Conditioning

Reinforcement schedule

A knowledge of the types of schedules of reinforcement is essential to managers if they are to know how to choose rewards that will have maximum impact on employee performance. There are two groups of reinforcement schedules: continuous and partial reinforcement schedules. A continuous reinforcement schedule rewards desired behavior every time it occurs. A partial reinforcement schedule rewards desired behavior at specific intervals, not every time desired behavior is exhibited. See 5.3 Operant Conditioning

Reinforcement theory

Reinforcement theory is based on a simple idea that may be viewed as common sense. Beginning at infancy we learn through reinforcement. According to reinforcement theory, behaviour is a function of its outcomes; it us is based on the work of Ivan Pavlov on behavioural conditioning and the later work of B. F. Skinner on operant conditioning. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories

Relational context

Relational context includes the previous interpersonal history and type of relationship we have with a person. See 2.2 The Communication Process

Relationship management

Relationship management exists when you are able to help others manage their own emotions and truly establish supportive relationships with others. See 3.3 Emotions at Work


Employers are required to respect and accommodate an individual’s religion (aka creed). While the early White settlers were most often Protestant or Roman Catholic, the diversity of religions in Canada has significantly expanded to include all major world religions and increasingly people who do not prescribe to any creed. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Research psychologist

Research psychologists use scientific methods to create new knowledge about the causes of behaviour. See Section 1.1 Psychology Defined


Retrieval is the key process in memory and describes are ability to call up information we have learned; it's given more prominence than encoding or storage because if information were encoded and stored but could not be retrieved, it would be useless. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory

Retroactive interference

Retroactive interference refers to new activities during the retention interval that interfere with retrieving the specific, older memory. But just as newer things can interfere with remembering older things, so can the opposite happen. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory

Rights approach

In the rights approach, we look at how our actions will affect the rights of those around us. So rather than looking at good versus harm as in the utilitarian approach, we are looking at individuals and their rights to make our decision. See 12.2 Ethics

Secondary emotions

Secondary emotions are those that have a major cognitive component. They are determined by both their level of arousal, ranging from mild to intense, and their valence, ranging from pleasant to unpleasant. See 3.2 The Experience of Emotion

Secondary traits

Secondary traits are those that are not quite as obvious or as consistent as central traits. They are present under specific circumstances and include preferences and attitudes. For example, one person gets angry when people try to tickle him; another can only sleep on the left side of the bed; and yet another always orders her salad dressing on the side. See 8.3 Theories of Personality


Self-awareness exists when you are able to accurately perceive, evaluate, and display appropriate emotions. See 3.3 Emotions at Work


Self-efficacy is a belief that one can perform a specific task successfully. Research shows that the belief that we can do something is a good predictor of whether we can actually do it. Self-efficacy is different from other personality traits in that it is job specific. See 8.3 Theories of Personality

Self-enhancement bias

Personality ratings reflect a self-enhancement bias; in other words, people are motivated to ignore (or at least downplay) some of their less desirable characteristics and to focus instead on their more positive attributes. See 8.2 Measuring Personality 


Self-esteem can be defined as one’s opinion or belief about one’s self and self-worth. See 8.4 Personality at Work


Self-management exists when you are able to direct your emotions in a positive way when needed. See 3.3 Emotions at Work


In self-monitoring (stage 1 of Behavioural self-management), the individual tries to identify the problem. For example, if your supervisor told you that your choice of clothing was unsuitable for the office, you would more than likely focus your attention on your clothes. See 5.5 Learning at Work


In self-reinforcement, people can, in effect, pat themselves on the back and recognize that they accomplished what they set out to do. According to Bandura, self-reinforcement requires three conditions if it is to be effective: (1) clear performance standards must be set to establish both the quantity and quality of the targeted behavior, (2) the person must have control over the desired reinforcers, and (3) the reinforcers must be administered only on a conditional basis—that is, failure to meet the performance standard must lead to denial of the reward.  See 5.5 Learning at Work


Self-report measures ask people to describe themselves. This approach offers two key advantages. First, self-raters have access to an unparalleled wealth of information. Second, asking people to describe themselves is the simplest, easiest, and most cost-effective approach to assessing personality. See 8.2 Measuring Personality 

Semantic memory

Semantic memory is our storehouse of more-or-less permanent knowledge, such as the meanings of words in a language (e.g., the meaning of “parasol”) and the huge collection of facts about the world (e.g., there are 196 countries in the world, and 206 bones in your body). See 6.2 Varieties of Memory

Servant leadership

Servant leadership is a leadership approach that defines the leader’s role as serving the needs of others. According to this approach, the primary mission of the leader is to develop employees and help them reach their goals. Servant leaders put their employees first, understand their personal needs and desires, empower them, and help them develop in their careers. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership


A person’s sex is a label, often designated by doctors at birth as male or female, based on an individual’s genitals, hormones, and/or chromosomes. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation refers to a person’s preference for sexual or romantic relationships; one may prefer a partner of the same sex, the opposite sex, both, or none. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Short-term orientation

If you work within a culture that has a short-term orientation, you may need to place greater emphasis on reciprocating greetings, gifts, and rewards. For example, if you send a thank-you note the morning after being treated to a business dinner, your host will appreciate your promptness. While there may be a respect for tradition, there is also an emphasis on personal representation and honour as reflections of identity and integrity. Short-term oriented cultures also value personal stability and consistency, contributing to an overall sense of predictability and familiarity. See 11.4 Culture

Sibling contrast effect

The sibling contrast effect occurs when parents exaggerate the true magnitude of differences between their children. See 8.2 Measuring Personality 

Similiarity-attraction phenomenon

There is a tendency for people to be attracted to people similar to themselves. Research shows that individuals communicate less frequently with those who are perceived as different from themselves. They are also more likely to experience emotional conflict with people who differ with respect to race, age, and gender. Individuals who are different from their team members are more likely to report perceptions of unfairness and feel that their contributions are ignored. The similarity-attraction phenomenon may explain some of the potentially unfair treatment based on demographic traits. See 11.3 Diversity in the Workplace – Benefits and Challenges

Situational leadership

Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey’s Situational Leadership Theory (SLT) argues that leaders must use different leadership styles depending on their followers’ development level. According to this model, employee readiness (defined as a combination of their competence and commitment levels) is the key factor determining the proper leadership style. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Social and cultural functions of emotions

Social and cultural functions of emotion refers to the role that emotions play in the maintenance of social order within a society. See 3.1 Functions of Emotions

Social awareness

Social awareness exists when you are able to understand how others feel. See 3.3 Emotions at Work

Social context

Social context refers to the stated rules or unstated norms that guide communication. As we are socialized into our various communities, we learn rules and implicitly pick up on norms for communicating. See 2.2 The Communication Process

Social learning theory

A model of learning by psychologist Albert Bandura. Social learning theory is defined as the process of molding behavior through the reciprocal interaction of a person’s cognitions, behavior, and environment. See 5.4 Social Learning Theory

Social loafing

Social loafing refers to the tendency of individuals to put in less effort when working in a group context. This phenomenon, also known as the Ringelmann effect, was first noted by French agricultural engineer Max Ringelmann in 1913. See 9.2 Characteristics of Effective Groups

Social referencing

Social referencing  is the process whereby infants seek out information from others to clarify a situation and then use that information to act. Facial expressions of emotion are important regulators of social interaction. See 3.1 Functions of Emotions

Social responsibility

Social responsibility is the duty of business to do no harm to society. In other words, in their daily operations, businesses should be concerned about the welfare of society and mindful of how its actions could affect society as a whole. We know that social responsibility doesn’t always happen and profits are sometimes put first. See 12.3 Social Responsibility

Societal issues

There are four levels of ethical issues. First, societal issues deal with bigger items such as taking care of the environment, capitalism, or embargos. See 12.2 Ethics

Stakeholder's issues

The second level of ethical issues is stakeholder issues. These are the things that a stakeholder might care about, such as product safety. See 12.2 Ethics


Stakeholders are all the individuals or groups that are affected by an organization (such as customers, employees, shareholders, etc.). See 7.1 Understanding Decision-making


A stereotype is a false or generalized, and usually negative, conception of a group of people that results in the unconscious or conscious categorization of each member of that group, without regard for individual differences. See 11.1 Diversity and Inclusion


Storage refers to maintaining information over time. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory


The storming stage is the second stage of Bruce Tuckman's model of group development.  Since the possibility of overlapping and competing viewpoints and perspectives exists, the group will experience a storming stage, a time of struggles as the members themselves sort out their differences. There may be more than one way to solve the problem or task at hand, and some group members may prefer one strategy over another.. See 9.3 Group Life Cycle

Strategic decisions

Strategic decisions set the course of an organization. See 7.1 Understanding Decision-making

Supportive leaders

Supportive leaders provide emotional support to employees. They treat employees well, care about them on a personal level, and they are encouraging. Supportive leadership is predicted to be effective when employees are under a lot of stress or performing boring, repetitive jobs. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Surface acting

Surface acting requires an individual to exhibit physical signs, such as smiling, that reflect emotions customers want to experience. A children’s hairdresser cutting the hair of a crying toddler may smile and act sympathetic without actually feeling so. In this case, the person is engaged in surface acting. See 3.3 Emotions at Work

Surface-level diversity

Surface-level diversity refers to differences you can generally observe in others, like ethnicity, race, gender, age, culture, language, disability, etc. You can often quickly and easily observe these features in a person. And people often do just that, making subtle judgments at the same time, which can lead to bias or discrimination. See 11.1 Diversity and Inclusion


Surveys are one of the primary methods management researchers use to learn about OB. A basic survey involves asking individuals to respond to a number of questions. The questions can be open-ended or close-ended.  See 1.3 OB Research Methods

Tactical decisions

Tactical decisions are decisions about how things will get done. See 7.1 Understanding Decision-making

Task group

When a group is less permanent, it is usually referred to as a task group. An example here would be a corporate-sponsored task force on improving affirmative action efforts. See 9.1 Groups and Teams


A team may be thought of as a particularly cohesive and purposeful type of work group. A collection of people can be defined as a work group or team if it shows a series of common characteristics. See 9.1 Groups and Teams for a list of team characteristics. 

Terminal values

Terminal values refer to end states people desire in life, such as leading a prosperous life and a world at peace. See 8.1 Personality

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) is a unique method developed by David McClelland is used to assess dominant need. This method entails presenting research subjects an ambiguous picture asking them to write a story based on it. See 4.2 Need-Based Theories of Motivation

Theory X leaders

The Theory X leader assumes that the average individual dislikes work and is incapable of exercising adequate self-direction and self-control. As a consequence, they exert a highly controlling leadership style. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Theory Y leaders

Theory Y leaders believe that people have creative capacities, as well as both the ability and desire to exercise self-direction and self-control. They typically allow organizational members significant amounts of discretion in their jobs and encourage them to participate in departmental and organizational decision-making. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Thinking hats

The Edward Debono's model of the Six Thinking Hats provides a different way of thinking about the way we make decisions. The six hats provide us with perspectives from six different perspectives. Similar to the rational decision making model, this model uses hats to represent the steps we need to follow in order to make good decisions. See 7.2 Decision-making Models

Trait approach

The earliest approach to the study of leadership sought to identify a set of traits that distinguished leaders from non-leaders. In recent years, after the advances in personality literature such as the development of the Big Five personality framework, researchers have had more success in identifying traits that predict leadership. Most importantly, charismatic leadership, which is among the contemporary approaches to leadership, may be viewed as an example of a trait approach. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Transactional model of communication

Transactional model of communication describes communication as a process in which communicators generate social realities within social, relational, and cultural contexts. See 2.2 The Communication Process

Transformational leaders

Transformational leaders lead employees by aligning employee goals with the leader’s goals. Thus, employees working for transformational leaders start focusing on the company’s well-being rather than on what is best for them as individual employees. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Transgender (gender identity)

When an individual does not identify with the gender of the sex that they were assigned at birth, they may identify as transgender. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity


Transphobia is the aversion to, fear or hatred or intolerance of trans people and communities. Like other prejudices, it is based on stereotypes and misconceptions that are used to justify discrimination, harassment and violence toward trans people. See 11.2 Dimensions of Diversity

Trasnactional leaders

Transactional leaders ensure that employees demonstrate the right behaviours and provide resources in exchange. See 10.2 Theories of Leadership

Two-factor theory

Proposed by Frederick Herzberg, the two-factor theory of motivation includes hygiene factors and motivators. By asking individuals what satisfies them on the job and what dissatisfies them, Herzberg came to the conclusion that aspects of the work environment that satisfy employees are very different from aspects that dissatisfy them. See 4.2 Need-Based Theories of Motivation

Two-factor theory of emotion

The two-factor theory of emotion asserts that the experience of emotion is determined by the intensity of the arousal we are experiencing but that the cognitive appraisal of the situation determines what the emotion will be. Because both arousal and appraisal are necessary, we can say that emotions have two factors, both an arousal factor and a cognitive factor. See 3.2 The Experience of Emotion

Type A personality

Type A personality is characterized by impatience, restlessness, aggressiveness, competitiveness, polyphasic activities (having many “irons in the fire” at one time), and being under considerable time pressure. Work activities are particularly important to Type A individuals, and they tend to freely invest long hours on the job to meet pressing (and recurring) deadlines. See 8.3 Theories of Personality

Type B personality

Type B personality people experience fewer pressing deadlines or conflicts, are relatively free of any sense of time urgency or hostility, and are generally less competitive on the job. See 8.3 Theories of Personality

Unconditioned response

In classical conditioning, an unconditioned response (UR) is an unlearned response that occurs naturally in reaction to the unconditioned stimulus.  For example, if the smell of food is the unconditioned stimulus, the feeling of hunger in response to the smell of food is the unconditioned response. See 5.2 Classical Conditioning

Unconditioned stimulus

In classical conditioning, the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) is one that unconditionally, naturally, and automatically triggers a response. In other words, the response takes place without any prior learning. For example, when you smell one of your favorite foods, you may immediately feel hungry. In this example, the smell of the food is the unconditioned stimulus. This example is derived from "Pavlov’s  Dog" experiments, which illustrates the process. See 5.2 Classical Conditioning

Utilitarian approach

The utilitarian approach says that when choosing one ethical action over another, we should select the one that does the most good and least harm. See 12.2 Ethics


Valence is the third question used in expectancy theory. Individuals are concerned about the value of the rewards awaiting them as a result of performance. The anticipated satisfaction that will result from an outcome is labeled valence. For example, do you value getting a better job, or gaining approval from your instructor, friends, or parents? If these outcomes are desirable to you, your expectancy and instrumentality is high, and you are more likely to put forth effort. See 4.3 Process-Based Theories


Values refer to stable life goals that people have, reflecting what is most important to them. Values are established throughout one’s life as a result of the accumulating life experiences and tend to be relatively stable. See 8.1 Personality

Values statement

A values statement is the organization’s guiding principles, those things that the company finds important. A company publicizes its values statements but often an internal code of conduct is put into place in order to ensure employees follow company values set forth and advertised to the public. See 12.2 Ethics

Variable ratio

A variable-ratio schedule is one in which rewards are administered only after an employee has performed the desired behavior a number of times, with the number changing from the administration of one reward to the next but averaging over time to a certain ratio of number of performances to rewards. See 5.3 Operant Conditioning

Verbal communication

Verbal communications in business take place over the phone or in person. In addition to routine phone calls and in-person conversations, verbal communication is an important tool for creating shared values within organization through storytelling and for communicating in crucial situations. See 2.1 Communication Defined

Verification and application

The verification and application stage happens when the decision maker consciously verifies the feasibility of the solution and implements the decision. See 7.2 Decision-making Models

Vicarious learning

Vicarious learning is learning that takes place through the imitation of other role models. That is, we observe and analyze what another person does and the resulting consequences. As a result, we learn without having to experience the phenomenon firsthand. See 5.4 Social Learning Theory

Virtual teams

A virtual team is one whose primary means of communicating is electronic, with only occasional phone and face-to-face communication, if at all. See 9.1 Groups and Teams

Virtue approach

The virtue approach asks the question, “What kind of person will I be if I choose this action?” In other words, the virtue approach to ethics looks at desirable qualities and says we should act to obtain our highest potential. See 12.2 Ethics


Someone who informs law enforcement of ethical or illegal violations is called a whistleblower. Like a person, a company can have ethics and values that should be the cornerstone of any successful person. See 12.2 Ethics


A variation of brainstorming is wildstorming, in which the group focuses on ideas that are impossible and then imagines what would need to happen to make them possible. See 7.2 Decision-making Models

Work role

A work role is an expected behavior pattern assigned or attributed to a particular position in the organization. It defines individual responsibilities on behalf of the group. See 9.2 Characteristics of Effective Groups

Written communication

Written communication can be constructed over a longer period of time (in contrast to  verbal communication, which  takes place in real time). Written communication is often asynchronous (occurring at different times). A written communication can also be read by many people (such as all employees in a department or all customers). See 2.1 Communication Defined


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Psychology, Communication, and the Canadian Workplace Copyright © 2022 by Laura Westmaas, BA, MSc is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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