Question 1. Describe The Differences Between Classical And Operant Conditioning.
• Classical conditioning is about a stimulus and a response.
• The original reflex is composed of an unconditioned stimulus (UCS) and an unconditioned response (UCR).
• There is also a conditioned component called the conditioned response (CR).
• It is a basic learning process.
• Conditioning can provide us with what are termed patterns. These are conditioned thoughts, feelings or behaviours which are fairly fixed and come to characterize the way we respond to certain events or people.
• Operant conditioning is also about stimulus and response.
• Operant is a unit of behaviour e.g. eating a meal, placing a bet.
• Main difference when compared to Classical conditioning is that the most powerful shaping mechanism is believed to be reinforcement.
• Operant conditioning is concerned primarily with what happens after a response. This reinforcement can operate positively or negatively.
Question 2. What Are Schedules Of Reinforcement; Which Are More Effective And Why?
• Fixed ratio schedule
• Variable ratio schedule
• Fixed interval schedule
• Variable interval schedule
• The most effective one is the variable-ratio schedule as it is the most effective in terms of effort-reward ratio. Since a variable ratio makes it difficult to know when a reward will be given, standards are often maintained.
Question 3. List Some Everyday Examples Of Each Of The Reinforcement Schedules?
• Fixed ratio schedule: examples include production of garments and shoes, assembly of electronic, plastic and metal components, many kinds of packing work, data processing and sewing and assembling toys.
• Variable ratio schedule: selling double glazing, door to door fundraising, street
• Fixed interval schedule: Hourly, monthly or weekly paid jobs.
• Variable interval schedule: Waiting for a train, bus or someone to arrive.
Question 4. What Relevance Do Operant And Classical Conditioning Have To The Explanation Of Workplace Behavior?
• Behaviour modification appears to offer a powerful way of understanding workplace behaviour by making explicit the connections between stimulus, response, and contingencies.
• It is important to understand the type of behaviour the job requires and then set the reinforcement schedules to produce the desired behaviours.
Question 5. To What Extent Can There Be A ‘technology Of Behaviour’?
• The idea of a technology of behaviour is based on the ability of those in organizations to apply stimulus-response theories to the workplace.
• It is acknowledged, however, that behaviour modification is an elaborate process and in reality its application is complex and problematic.
• The extent to which the key behaviours can be straightforwardly observed is central to the application of the process.
• The next stage is to try to assess the rates at which these critical behaviours normally occur. Identifying base rates enables the impact of the programme to be assessed at a later stage.
• The third stage, termed functional analysis involves careful observation of what normally precedes and follows various types of work behaviour. For example, a functional analysis may reveal that customers are normally greeted only if they approach a member of the sales staff.
• After the functional analysis has been completed an intervention strategy is devised. This makes reward contingent on critical behaviour. For example, sales staff may be rewarded with pay, free package holidays, or time off for demonstrating these behaviours.
• Finally, there is a systematic evaluation of the intervention strategy. Do the critical behaviours now occur at a level above the original base rate?
• However, this type of organizational behaviour modification requires managers to acquire a new ‘mental set.’ In more practical terms this ‘mental set’ means managers need to learn how to identify critical behaviours, observe them, establish base rates for them, determine what reinforcers are supporting unwanted behaviours and estimate what stimulus will reinforce the desired behaviour(s).
The observation needs to be charted with tally sheets before, during and after the intervention. In addition it may also involve questionnaires and some trial and error pilot runs. In short, whilst there is some evidence that interventions may work in a range of workplace settings, implementing the technique takes a good deal of commitment and skill to make it practicable.
Question 6. Why Is Learning Theory Important To Modern Economies?
• It is increasingly important for people within organizations and organizations themselves functioning in our current climate to function as learning organizations.
• The need for organizations to understand and adapt to their chosen markets is a significant one.
• Learning theory helps us firstly to understand the ways in which people learn and adapt within organizations, and so in turn learning theories can explain how people initially acquire competence.
• This might also in turn help explain what differentiates excellent from merely competent individuals, and ultimately organizations, which are of course a collection of individuals.
Question 7. In Reality, Workplace Learning Is A Mixture Of Both Cognitive And Behavioural Learning—discuss.
• There is evidence that mental activity may occur when individuals learn.
What seems to happen is that people actively develop models of the systems they are interacting with. In other words, individuals do not respond directly to the environment, as stimulus–response theories assume, but to the models they construct of it. So in effect, over time individuals develop and aggregate sense of their environment through experience and training.
Question 8. How Can The Transfer Of Training Be Encouraged?
• Courses need to be perceived as relevant and useful.
• A course needs to be based on a mixture of both cognitive and stimulus–response learning. Both forms of learning are involved in acquiring complex behaviours.
• Attention needs to be paid to the extent to which individuals have an expectation of valued outcomes from the training. The perception of a link between participation and valued outcomes increases ‘training motivation’ in individuals.
Question 9. What Are Learning Strategies And How Might They Help The Design Of Training Programmes?
• The idea of a learning strategy has been suggested by Warr and Gardner (1998).
They suggest that the key difference in learners is in the effectiveness of the learning strategy they adopt. These strategies are not thought to be fixed and can be adjusted.
• Two basic primary strategies exist: cognitive and behavioural.
• Cognitive strategies involve rehearsal (repetition and copying), organization (identifying key issues and creating structures which group and inter-relate material), and elaboration (making mental connections and examining the implications of what is being learnt).
• Behavioural strategies involve interpersonal help seeking (getting others to check and reinforce learning), seeking help from written material (obtaining information from written documents), and practical application (testing learning through practical activities).
• Alongside these primary strategies other secondary strategies come into play, which enable individuals to regulate their anxiety and motivation.
• The practical implications of learning strategies research are immense. Learning how to choose the correct strategy for a particular activity can increase confidence in our learning abilities. What is termed ‘learning self-efficacy’—fundamental and sometimes disabling feelings individuals have about their ability to learn—can be improved.
Question 10. Is Stress A Stimulus Or A Response?
The response argument has been strengthened by work dome by Hans Selye. Selye observed an identical series of biochemical changes in a number of organisms adapting to a variety of environmental conditions. He termed this series of changes the general adaptation syndrome (Selye, 1936). Selye’s discovery of the biochemical and physiological pathways of the stress response has been of immense significance.
His concern to find the psychological mediators of the response to stress has, for example, created the field of psychoneuroimmunology, an interdisciplinary area of research exploring the varied and complex way the immune system reacts to stressors. A critique of Selye’s approach has been that it is too simplistic. It cannot, for example explain the stress associated, with difficult relationships in the workplace.
A number of psychologists also believe that there are sources of stress which impact fairly uniformly on individuals, for example in the workplace. The criticism of this approach is essentially the same as of Selye’s response approach – it is too simplistic. It does not take into account enormous individual differences in our ability to handle stressful circumstances.
Question 11. Is There A ‘stress Prone’ Personality?
Another attractive facet of the appraisal concept is it broadens the notion of stress to include psychological factors, particularly personality variables. There is the notion of the hardy personality (e.g. Kobosa, 1979). There is a ‘Hardiness Institute’ and measures for the construct are vigorously marketed to psychologists and therapists.
Hardiness incorporates the appraisal concept of stress by suggesting the specific cognitive mechanisms attenuating responses to stressors. ‘High hardy’ individuals see life as meaningful, controllable, and challenging. Seeing life as meaningful enables high hardy individuals to retain a basic sense of purpose. They believe in themselves and what they are doing. Their sense of control means they feel they make things happen rather than things happen to them. Their interest in challenge means, for example, seeing change as opportunity rather than threat.
Question 12. Is Too Much Or Too Little Stimulation At Work Inherently Stressful?
In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive, is developing standards of ‘good practice’ in the management of work related stress. These standards are designed to help organizations understand more about stress in the workplace and ways of reducing its prevalence (Mackay 2003). The government initiative in the UK is focussed on nine sources of workplace stress (Daniels et al., 2003):
• Poorly designed/managed workload;
• Poorly designed/managed work scheduling;
• Poorly designed /managed work design;
• Poorly designed/managed physical environment;
• Poorly designed/managed other sources of demand;
• Lack of skill discretion;
• Lack of decision authority or other forms of control;
• Lack of support;
• Poorly designed/managed procedures for eliminating conflict (e.g., bullying/harassment).
According to the above, having too little or too much stimulation at work could be considered stressful. This is because it can be seen to fit within each of the categories which are seen as sources of workplace stress.
Cox (1980) has provided one explanation of this. He suggested the effect of repetitive understimulating work on health occurs through what he termed an emergency stress response. This occurs when someone performing a repetitive task has to readjust his or her attention suddenly because it had drifted away from the task. He argued the impact on health of repetitive work occurs because of the physiological ‘wear and tear’ caused by these sudden and more frequent ‘attentional shifts’ experienced by those doing repetitive jobs.
More specifically this ‘wear and tear’ seems to come from elevations in heart rate and noradrenaline levels—a hormone associated with hardening of the arteries. Many people at work face the opposite problem—having to cope with too much stimulation. Overstimulation can be as stressful, if not more so, than understimulation. Perhaps the classic example of a job in which large amounts of variable information have to be coped with is air-traffic control. The health costs in terms of ulcers, skin disorders, hypertension, and respiratory complaints have been well documented over many years (e.g. Martindale, 1977; Rose et al., 1978).
Question 13. Is Stress Largely A White Collar/managerial Problem?
Even in non-supervisory job grades, role conflict can exist. In a well conducted study of the impact of organizational climate and other occupational stressors on ‘withdrawal behaviours’ (absenteeism, leaving intentions and injuries) in 252 nurses Hemingway and Smith (1999) found role conflict was the best single predictor of turnover intentions, higher even than having to deal with death and dying of patients.
Question 14. How Can Roles Become Stressful?
One significant workplace stressor which, because of its transient nature, has until fairly recently been overlooked, is the impact of daily recurring demands, or in more everyday English – ‘workplace hassles’. In a study with parachute trainers, Zohar (1997) found the severity of hassles, defined and measured, over five consecutive days, was the best predictor (compared with other possibilities such as sleep loss) of end of the day mood, fatigue and the perception of workload.
These factors included, for example, equipment being missing or malfunctioning, and having to deal with unscheduled changes. Another source of stressor in the workplace, and as potent as the more obvious sources of stress such as work pace and intensity stems from the quality of the relationships we experience with colleagues, supervisors and individuals outside of the organization we have to interact with. In line with this view, two strands of research exist that explore the relationship between the quality of relationships and stress outcomes – social support and social stressors.
Question 15. Could Stress Largely Be Designed Out Of Most Jobs?
Stress could be designed out of jobs by taking into consideration the many factors that make jobs stressful. These factors include the idea of workplace hassles, social support, social stressors and individual differences.
Question 16. What Makes Worksite Stress-management Programmes More Likely To Be Effective?
Worksite stress management interventions are likely to be most effective when the context and environment they are to be transferred to is taken into consideration. This would mean taking into consideration the specific situation of individuals, such as the factors contributing to their levels of stress and to what extent it was an external or behavioural factor.
What has also recently emerged from stress-management research is using multi-method approaches in which two or more techniques are combined appears to be superior in producing more consistent and positive effects than single technique approaches (Murphy, 1996). This is particularly the case in the methods employing contrasting techniques, for example by combining arousal reduction and personal skills training through role-play techniques. These results suggest that the effects of combining techniques are multiplicative rather than additive.
Question 17. Are Factors Inventions Rather Than Discoveries?
Because factors are seen to be underlying trends in personality and intelligence, and are discovered through rigorous statistical analysis, factors are discoveries rather than inventions
Question 18. To What Extent Is The ‘big Five’ Account Of Personality An Unhelpful Oversimplification?
It does not take into account context, and assumes that behaviour is consistent across all situations.
Question 19. Is Freud Essentially Fiction?
Fiction describes events and people in an imaginary way. Freud uses imaginative ways to describe our subconscious, and how it is influenced therefore it could be considered fiction. Hans Eysenck were extremely critical of Freud, seeing his work as essentially unscientific fairy stories. The oral and anal personalities to some extent resemble the agreeable and conscientiousness dimensions described earlier. Their presence as factors does not, of course, imply Freud was correct about the way these differences develop.
Question 20. Is The Only Way To Describe Personality Or Intelligence Scientifically To Use Factor Analysis?
If science is considered to be the systematic study of the structure and the behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment or an organized body of work on any subject, then the approach taken by Freud can be considered to be a scientific way to describe personality or intelligence.
Question 21. What Relevance Do Freudian Concepts Have To The Workplace?
Freudian concepts are relevant to the workplace as they help us to understand why people don’t always act rationally, and that there are often underlying reasons for some behaviours which can’t always be obviously attributed to the organizational environment.
Question 22. What Is ‘g’?
Unlike personality, which can be broken down into a number of factors, there is a considerable amount of agreement that a large proportion of the variance in intelligence scores can be accounted for by a single, large general factor: G.
G is also one of the most controversial results in psychology, which to this day causes extreme reactions. It is either seen as explaining everything or as something that itself needs to be explained away. Summarizing 85 years of selection research, Schmidt and Hunter (1998) concluded if hiring individuals with no previous experience of a role, an individual’s performance on a test of G still seems to be the best predictor of his or her future performance.
Question 23. An Individual’s Ability Can Be Captured Best By Assessing His Or Her Level Of G—discuss?
G measures how well we do on spatial, verbal, numerical, memory and other types of test. It measure a type of intelligence however whether or not it captures ‘best’ our ability in all situations is questionable.
Question 24. Can Intelligence Be Improved?
Not if it’s considered to be biologically determined.
Question 25. What Impact Do Assumptions About Differences In Intelligence Have On Effectiveness At Work?
Carol Dweck (2002) argued that the belief that intelligence is fixed has profound consequences and produces striking differences in behaviour compared to those who believe it is more malleable. Dweck conducted a number of studies with students. She found that the belief intelligence is fixed appeared to lead to defensive, self defeating behaviours, for example sacrificing valuable learning opportunities.
Students who have been praised for their intelligence demonstrate a steep decline in their enjoyment of a task once they hit difficulty. They did not appear to want to remedy their deficiencies. In contrast, she argued that the belief intelligence is more malleable engenders a focus on the longer term and the strategies which lead to learning, self improvement and achievement.
Question 26. Why Are Assessment Centres Less Effective Than Might Be Expected, Given The Resources Usually Invested In Them By Organizations?
First, in assessing interactive exercises the processes of ‘person perception’ come into play. Second, is there is what is known as the exercise effect.
Question 27. What Is Adverse Impact? To What Extent Can It Be Reduced In Assessment Procedures?
Adverse impact is the extent to which an assessment methodology produces different mean score or success rates for different groups (social, ethnic, gender, religious).
This is often expressed by the proportion of a standard deviation that the minority group’s mean score is different to the mean score of the majority group. Psychometric tests are usually seen as the major source of adverse impact in an assessment process. However, adverse impact has also been demonstrated in other assessment techniques such as the interview and Assessment Centres. Adverse impact can be reduced by making assessment processes more open, participative, transparently fair, and relevant.
Question 28. What Are The Key Ways Of Evaluating Selection Processes?
Through their reliability and validity. Reliability represents the accuracy of an assessment methodology and is normally expressed as a correlation coefficient ranging from 1 to 0. Validity represents the relevance of an assessment methodology. Although the concept is normally encountered in the context of psychometric tests it can be applied to evaluate any assessment methodology.
Question 29. What Concepts Are At The Heart Of The Complaints By The Chief Constable About The Assessment Centre For Sergeants And Inspectors In The Police Force?
Question 30. What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Role-play As An Assessment Technique?
The advantages of role play are that competencies can be assessed in real life situations; however, in the case of individuals that have worked in the environment which is being simulated, there may be some cynicism and rejection.
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