Factors Influencing Individual Behaviour

Abilities & Skills

The physical ability of an individual to do something can be termed as ability. Abilities of a person are the natural or learnt traits. Abilities can be classified into mental and physical abilities and different task requires different level of the two. Mental abilities symbolise the intelligence, person’s deductive reasoning, and memory, analytical and verbal comprehension. Physical abilities include muscular strength, stamina, body coordination and motor skills. An individual’s self knowledge of his own abilities establishes how he feels about the task, while the manager’s insight of his abilities establishes the kind of task he allocates to the individual.

Skill can be defined as the capacity to act in a way that allows a person to perform well. The individual Behavior and performance is greatly impacted by ability and skills. A person can function well in the Organization if his abilities and skills are matched with the job requirement. The managers plays critical role in matching the abilities and skills of the employees with the particular job requirement.


Even though, research suggests that men and women are equal in their mental abilities and job performance, society does highlight differences. However, absenteeism is one area where differences are found and can be recognized to being primary caregiver to children. Nonetheless, this creates a difference in self perception of one’s abilities, personal values and social Behavior. In the same way, a manager’s personal values may influence how he considers gender as an element in his task assignment and evaluation.


Race and culture exert considerable influence when both workplace and society have considerable diversity. Stereotyping and attributing Behavior based on race and culture are common errors that influence individual Behavior. It is vital for both management and the staff of diverse workforce to gain knowledge about different cultures, their values, common artifacts and communication protocols. This would create a more conducive corporate culture and would minimise Behaviors that might be perceived as insensitive and offensive. Organizations should support the diversity of team members, customers and communities. They should capitalise on diversity as a competitive advantage.

Other Demographic Factors

The other demographic factors are socio economic background, education, age, etc. Organizations like persons that belong to good socio-economic background, well educated, young etc as they are presumed to be performing better than the others. The young and dynamic professionals that have good academic background and good communication skills are always required by Organizations.

The study of demographic factors is important as it helps managers to pick the correct candidate for a particular job.


Perception is the fundamental cognitive process that converts sensory stimuli into important information. Most real life problems are multidimensional and the rational approach is often joined together with the gut feeling, resulting in individual perception. This crushes the famous notion that reality is objective and thus everyone must see it the same way. Both managers and subordinates must understand that perceptual differences exist and often are the reason for mutual discontentment.

Stereotyping – It is grouping of individuals on basis of single attribute, it ends up creating a generic and simplified belief that do not take into account other important characteristics. Age, race and sex are the three most common basis of stereotyping; not only they are unethical but can cost missing resources., Stereotyping usually leads to decisions that are based on incorrect data that can result in unmerited performance evaluations, job design or promotion.

Selective Perception: It is the method of selecting only the information that supports our pre-existing belief system, therefore blocking the discomforting information. Selective perception acts like a channel to stereotyping because people tend to pay attention things that fit their existing notion and not notice things that don’t.

Both stereotyping and selective perception can be advantageous only by chance since they are based on limited information. The specific situations in which they can be positively exploited cannot be used as reliable methods.

Importance of Perception – Perception is a method by which individuals organize and understand as per their sensory immersions in order to give meaning to their environment. It is vital to study perceptions in the study of Organization Behavior, because people’s Behavior is based on their perception of’ what reality is and is not on reality itself. Perception is impacted by many factors. These factors may be in the perceiver, or the object being perceived or the situations in the context of which perception is made. Personal characters that affect perception are attitude, personality, motives, interest, past experience and expectations. Our perception of people is distinct from our perception of inanimate objects such as desks, machines, etc. because our inferences are due to activities of people. Because people have beliefs, motives or intentions, our perceptions and judgment significantly is influenced by supposition we make about that a person’s internal state.


Attribution is the process of observing Behavior and then determining its cause based on individual’s personality or situation. Attribution based on personality is due to internal causes and is termed as dispositional attribution. It includes personality traits like shyness, arrogance, intelligence, etc. Attribution based on external influences and situations that are outside the control of individual are termed as situational attribution. The basic attribution framework uses three criteria mentioned below:

  • Consensus: It is the extent to which other people in the same situation might respond similarly. When Behavior is attributed to consensus, the individual is not rewarded or disciplined due his personality.
  • Distinctiveness: It is the degree to which the individual’s Behavior can be attributed to situations or to his personality. If the person reacts the same way in seemingly different situations, then his Behavior will be attributed to his personality.
  • Consistency: It is the measure of the frequency of the observed Behavior, how often does the Behavior occurs? High consistency is linked to dispositional attribution while low consistency is linked to situational attribution.

On the whole, Attribution recommends that, when we observe an individual’s Behavior, we make an effort to determine whether it was internally and externally caused. Externally caused Behaviors are seen as happening from outside causes. That is the person is seen as having been forced into the Behavior by the situation. If one of our employees is late for work, you might link his lateness to his partying into late night and then over sleeping. This would be an internal attribution. But attributing arriving late to a major automobile accident that causes traffic jam on the road that this employee regularly uses, and then you would be making an external attribution.


An attitude is the abstract learnt response of an individual’s entire cognitive process over a period of time. It is experienced as a quick response to a familiar situation without any deep reasoning; it forms the basis of biases and attribution errors. In other words, attitude can be defined as a tendency to respond favourably or unfavourably to certain objects, persons or situations. The factors such as family, society, culture, peers and Organizational factors influence the formation of attitude. The managers in an Organization need to understand the factors related to job as to create the work environment in a conducive way that employees are motivated to form a positive attitude towards their respective jobs. The employees can function better in the Organization if they form a positive attitude.

Individuals may have many attitudes. But in organizational Behavior, we are concerned with work related attitudes which are mainly three:

  • Job Satisfaction – Job satisfaction refers to one’s feeling towards one’s job. An individual having satisfaction is said to have positive attitude towards the job. On the contrary, a dissatisfied person will have negative attitude towards his other job. When people think of employee attitudes they regularly refer to job satisfaction. In fact, the two terms are used interchangeably, though some difference does exist between the two.
  • Job Involvement – Job involvement refers to the degree with which an individual identifies psychologically with his or her job and perceives his or her perceived performance level important to self worth. High level of job involvement results in fewer absence and lower attrition rates.
  • Organizational Commitment – The last job attitude refers to organizational commitment. It is understood as one’s identification with his or her organization and feels proud of being its employee. Job involvement refers to one’s attachment to a job whereas organizational commitment means an employee’s identification with a specific organization and its goals. Therefore, an individual may be attached to his or her job but may be unconcerned to the organization and its objectives. Turnover and absenteeism are low when employees have organizational commitment.

Attitude components

  • Cognitive component – The cognitive component of attitudes refer to the beliefs, thoughts, and attributes that we would relate with an object. On many occasions a person’s attitude might be based on the negative and positive attributes they relate with an object/situation.
  • Affective component – The affective component of attitudes refer to your feelings or emotions linked to an attitude object. Affective responses impacts attitudes in a number of ways. For example, many people are afraid of dogs. So this negative affective response is likely to cause you to have a negative attitude towards dog.
  • Behavioral component – The Behavioral component of attitudes refer to past Behaviors or experiences regarding an attitude object. The idea that people might develop their attitudes from their previous activities. For example, an individual who has worked in various organizations might develop an attitude of indifference towards organizational citizenship.


A value is defined as a “concept of the desirable, internalizes criterion of standard of evaluation a person possesses. Such ideas and standards are quite few and determine or guide an individual’s evaluation of the many objects encountered in everyday life”. Values are significant and lasting beliefs or ideals held by an individual about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Values have key influence on a person’s Behavior and attitude and serve as broad framework in all situations. Some common business values are fairness, loyalty and respect.

Values are central to human decision making. When we work in an Organization whose culture is in line with our personal values, we feel happy. We are able to bring our full mind to work. We not only bring our energy, our enthusiasm, we also bring our commitment to the happiness of our associates and the success of the Organization. Individuals showcase their values though their personal Behaviors, Organizations showcase their values through their cultural Behaviors.   Values can be positive, or they can be potentially limiting. For example, the positive value of “trust” is basic for creating an organized group culture. On the other hand, the potentially limiting value of “being liked” can prompt people to compromise their integrity in order to satisfy their need for approval from others.

There are 2 basic types of values- terminal and instrumental. A terminal value is an ultimate goal in a desired status or outcome. An instrumental value, on the other hand, is a tool or means for acquiring a terminal value. For e.g., a person may desire and endeavour to achieve happiness, a terminal value by being ambitious, independent and responsible (instrumental values) Some of the terminal values are- Equality, Freedom, Family Security, Happiness, National security. Some of the Instrumental values are — Ambitious, Broad-minded, Capable, Cheerful, Honest. The different values an individual has, both terminal and instrumental, join together to create a lasting group of values, a value system Our values and value system then are main determinants of whom and what we are as individual.

Another way of classifying values is given below: Theoretical — Interest in the discovery of truth through reasoning and systematic thinking. i. Economics- Interest useful and practicality, including the accumulation of wealth. ii. Aesthetic- Interest in beauty, form and artistic harmony. iii. Social- Interest in people and love as a relationship. iv. Political- Interest in gaining power and influencing people. v. Religious- Interest in unity and understanding the cosmos as a whole.

Values are learned and attained mainly through experience with people, institution, parents. Parent’s relation to everyday events highlights what is good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable. Important and unimportant values are also taught and reinforced in schools, religious organization, and social groups. As we grow and develop, each basis of influence contributes to our definition of what is important in life. Cultural moves have impact on the formation of values. Fundamental conviction of what is good or bad are derived from one’s satisfaction about own culture.


Personality is the relatively stable set of psychological attributes that distinguishes one individual from another. Personality combines a set of physical and mental characteristics that reflect how a person looks, thinks, acts and feels. The several factors that influence the personality of an individual are heredity, family, society, culture and situation. It points to the fact that individuals differ in their manner while responding to the organizational environment. Personality can be regarded as the most complex characteristic of human beings that impact their Behavior in big way. It can be concluded that the study of personality traits gives an opportunity to understand the individuals. It aids them in directing their effort and motivating them for the accomplishment of the Organizational goal. It points to the fact that different environmental factors may elicit different responses. The study of these responses is very significant for the Organization. Every Organization requires a particular type of Behavior from their employees and such Behaviors can be discovered through observation, learning, exposure, training, etc.

Five-factor model of personality

The “big five” personality traits are

  • Agreeableness – a person’s ability to get along with others.
  • Conscientiousness – The number of goals on which a person focuses
  • Negative emotionality – The extent to which a person is calm, resilient and secure.
  • Extraversion – A person’s comfort level with relationships
  • Openness – A person’s rigidity of belief and range of interests

Other important personality traits at work are:

  • Locus of control – The extent to which people believe that their Behavior has a real effect on what happens to them.
  • Internal Locus – Individuals who believe that they are in control of their life.
  • External Locus – Individuals believe that external forces dictate what happens to them.
  • Self-efficacy – refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute Behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments (Bandura, 1977, 1986, 1997). Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, Behavior, and social environment.
  • Authoritarianism – The degree to which an Individual believes that power and status difference are appropriate within hierarchal social Organizations.
  • Machiavellianism – The Behavior directed at gaining power and controlling the Behavior of others.
  • Self-esteem – The degree to which a person believes that she or he is a worthwhile individual.
  • Risk propensity – The degree to which an individual is willing to take a chance and make risky decisions.

Personality is an important determinant of employee Behavior. If an employee likes monotonous or boring work; if he continuously refuses additional responsibilities in the form of promotion; if a supervisor fails to discipline an unruly subordinate; or if a middle level manager tries to climb over you the ladder to reach the top of an organization with no regard to business and social ethics. The rationalization for such Behavior in each case depends on the individual personality, which incline an individual to certain Behavioral patterns. The suitable application of personality concepts, through subjective, helps us comprehend distinct beings and groups with similar personality characteristics. Personality is the central point determining motivation. It is not possible to give a full and complete account of executive Behavior without raising questions of why they behave as they do. Motivation is involved with the study of the direction and determination of action. Personality is the organism centre around which people’s motives form a unified and incorporated system. Personality characteristics also decide which individuals occupy which positions in an organization, for e.g. the traits required for a successful sales manager are different from those required for an executive in charge of production.

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