Interpersonal Behaviour and Relations

Concept of Individual Behavior in OB

Organization is composed of different people with different behavior. From the birth of a child, he/she is unique in characters; each member of the organization may have different socio-economic-cultural background, schooling in society and informal education system form the perception, attitude and behavior of individual.

Perception, attitude and behavior of individual affect the group effort and the group dynamism gets changed. Thus, each individual’s behavior in the organization should be studied, understood and controlled for the improved organizational effectiveness.

Perception, attitude and behavior of individual are subject to change with continuously changing external environmental events. To form a complete personality the inherited characteristics are modified by learning experiences with continuous reinforcement. Understanding and predicting the change in human personality is really complex task but it is observed that the internal and external responses of stimuli can restructure the psychological structure of person. Psychologist Kurt Lewis concluded that a number of factors, both genetic and environmental, and the influence of these factors determines the pattern of behavior. He further concluded that the behavior is the function of environment in person i.e. B=F(P,E) where, B stand for behavior, F for function, P for person and E for environment.

Individual employee differs in needs, desires and goals. These things set the behavior of person. Along with these, behavior of individual is observed as a product of intelligence, creativity, personality, attitude, etc. It has been classified the foundations of individual behavior as follows:

The person

  • Personal biographical factors: age, education, abilities, marital status.
  • Psychological factors: Personality, perception, attitude, values and learning

The environment

  • Environmental factors: economic conditions, political situations, cultural values, and social norms.
  •  Organizational factors: Physical facilities, organizational structure, organizational design, leadership style, reward system. 

Individual Behavior as an Input-Output System in OB

It is already discussed that the individual behavior is caused.It is motivated and goal oriented. Individual behavior can be understood with input-output system.

1. Input

Inputs are the stimuli for the individual behavior. Stimuli are reasons for formation of behavior structure and change in it. Stimuli can be external and internal.

a. Internal stimuli

Individual or personal forces are causing the behavior in individual are internal stimuli. Personal characteristics, personality, emotions, values, beliefs, attitudes, ability, etc. are important stimuli related to the inherent characteristics leading to individual behavior.

  • Personal characteristics: Age, gender and marital status are important personal characteristics forming distinct individual behavior at work settings.
  • Personality: Personality refers to the set of characters or traits of individual. Personality reflects who person reacts with other person or events. Sociable, aggressive, persistent and dominance are some personality of individual. Personality of individual are formed and shaped by environmental setting and experience. It influences the behavior.
  • Emotions: Emotions are the feelings or sentiments of individual. They are causes of immediate reaction towards person or events. Angriness, sadness, happiness, joy, love, fear, etc. are common emotions of individual. Actions of individual are causes of felt emotions which are not desired in the work setting. Thus, displaced emotions are good for job.
  • Value: Value is the basic conviction or certainty for being right or good. Value represents the significance of being someone or doing the things with optimal level of confidence. Value is the basis of motivation for doing things thus it influences the motivation and behavior of individual. 
  • Belief: Belief represents the faith or descriptive thought towards a particular event or case. Belief is formed with knowledge, opinion, faith and experience. Belief motivates for better performance as employee perform better if they have strong belief that better performing employees get quick promotion or rewards.
  • Attitude: Attitude is the position, mind-set or judgemental statement for and against of any event or activity or person. Attitude directs the behavior of person.
  • Ability: Ability refers to the individual capability to perform assigned job-related tasks. Training and development, job experience, academic qualification, intellectual capability, etc. determine the ability of person. Person job fit is most essential for the better performance. Ability can be mental as well as physical. Mental ability helps to make decisions while physical ability (i.e. stamina and strength) helps to do job with greater speed.

b. External Stimuli

External stimuli are the factors of influencing behavior from external environment. Individual receives various sensory messages from external work setting through hearing, seeing, smelling, touching and tasting. Such messages first help to form perception then attitude.

2. Processing

Processing is the state or mechanism of conversion of input into output. It is the organism aspect of individual behavior. Processing consists of three processes namely physiological processes, cognitive processes and psychological processes.

a. Physiological or biological processes

Physiological or biological processes are the biological foundations like heredity, nervous system and sense organs of individual behavior. By means of sensory organs, individual receives message from environment, nervous system carries that message to the brain and brain interpret the message. The interpretation of the message is reflected in action or response of the individual.

b. Cognitive processes

Cognition is the knowledge element of the person. Cognitive processes are the higher level of mental processes in which individual analyzes the knowledge or message in depth and sets the behavior through perception and thinking. So, cognitive process consists of two processes as perception and thinking.

Perception is a process thorough which an individual interpret any event, object or person for understandable meaning. Individual makes conclusion for right or wrong as well as good or bad regarding the information received from environment and on the basis of which she/he reflects that in behavior.

Thinking is the process of making judgement to conclude whether the information is correct or not. Thinking thus, helps to classify the information and to configure the belief and value. Individual establish the relationship between events.

c. Psychological process

Psychological process is the way of fixing the behavior. In this process, individual analyzes the fact and realizes the fact to change the behavior. Learning and motivation are two important processes under psychological process. Learning is relatively permanent change in behavior. Motivation process enforces individual for more intensified effort to attain predetermined goal which leads different behavior at working set up. This means that motivation is the key factor leading the job behavior.

3. Output

Output in behavior system is the response or action of individual at job environment. Behavior of individual is reflected in action. Output behavior of individual is the consequence of input and processing. This means the information, event or object received from environment and the way of perceiving, thinking with intensity of motivation is reflected in action by employees at working environment. Some common job behavior are as:

  • Low absenteeism
  • Low job turnover
  • Good industrial relation
  • Decreasing wastage
  • Improving productivity and efficiency
  • High job satisfaction
  • Higher level of job and organizational commitment

Mental Process

Mental process is the capacity of an individual to select, organize and interpret information.

Individual differences are largely varied because of mental processes. Mental process or cognition acts as the input into an individual’s perception, thinking, problem solving and mental imagery. So, these things can be taken as components of mental process.


Perception is the process by which individual gathers and filters the information to create a clear picture or understanding. It is filtering process as individual selects only meaningful information from all available.


Thinking is the process of judgement of a person in which classification of information is done to select the best. In thinking process, individual first selects a problem, defines the problem including various concepts and relevance or consequences are judged.

Thinking can be of two types as artistic thinking and directed thinking. Artistic thinking is highly private in nature like symbol and dreams while directed thinking are caused by problems i.e. it is because to solve any problem.

Problem solving

Problem solving is a process in which individual selects one or more alternatives to satisfy realized problem. In this process, individual collects relevant information regarding problem, gathers all possible alternative solutions, evaluates each alternative in terms of available resources, time, situation, organizational or individual priority, etc. and selects the best alternative.

Mental imagery

Mental imagery is higher level (cognitive) mental process. Cognition refers to the process through which information received though the senses are transformed, reduced, elaborated, recovered and used. It is the mental practice involved to solve any problem while completing task. Mental imagery involves thinking.

Determinants of Individual Behavior in OB

As discussed earlier, behavior of individual is directed by several factors. Individual behavior, though it is formed by birth, but gets changed with situation, age, learning process, etc. Belief, values, attitudes, needs and wants, motives, sensation, emotions and cognitive dissonance are common determinants of individual behavior as below:

1. Belief

Belief represents the faith or descriptive thought towards a particular event or case. Belief is formed with knowledge, opinion, faith and experience. Belief motivates for better performance as employee perform better if they have strong belief that better performing employees get quick promotion or rewards.

2. Attitudes

Attitude is the position, mind-set or judgmental statement for and against of any event or activity or person. Attitude directs the behavior of person. Attitude is simply the way that a person feels about any event or object or person and disposed towards it. For example, what is your attitude towards foreign university degree?, attitude towards examination system?, attitude towards existing company management?, attitude towards examination system?, attitude towards reward management system?, etc. Thus, attitudes are relative with feelings, beliefs and behavior tendencies directed towards specific people, group, ideas, issues, or object.

Different people have different attitude and sometimes same individual may have different attitude because of environmental context. In another words individual differences are because of different attitudes. Attitudes are reflected in action. Such actions influence the interpersonal relationship, group dynamism and organizational performance. So managers should understand well in advance regarding the attitudes of the person. Continuous support can change the attitude of employees for example training may change the attitude towards job, advertisement can change attitude towards product, regular socialization programs can change the attitude of employees towards management.

3. Values

Values are the basic conviction or principles of an individual as to what is right or wrong or good or bad. It represents basic convictions that “a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence”. This is the element of judgment regarding any product, event or person stating right or wrong and good or bad. Is monetary punishment is good or not in absenteeism at work? Delegation of authority is good or not? Managers need to be more polite or not? Employees should be productivity or seniority? etc. can be answered with different versions as they are value leading questions. Some may say good or important while some other may put their negative arguments on the basis of their values. Individual acquire values through parents, teachers, friends, reference group, social culture, self learning, etc. and some portion is genetically determined.

Values are stable and enduring in general. In most of the cases, individual gain values during their early ages. “Values contain both content and intensity attributes.” The first part i.e. content attributes advocates the importance of end state of existence while intensity attributes explains how important the end state of existence is. 

Values contain following important aspects:

  • Values contain judgmental elements as to what is right or wrong and good or bad.
  • Values are highly stable and enduring. 
  • Values are learnt from parents, teachers, friends, society, etc. and some portion is generally determined. 
  • Each individual contain a value system i.e. a set of values. 
  • Values are the basis of individual indifference. 

Each individual joins organization with certain values for instance, one can enter with the value that organizational pay system should be on the basis of productivity rather than seniority and finds that organization respects seniority and pays more to the senior employees irrespective of their productivity. In such situation we cannot expect the employee will pay cent percent for attaining maximum output. This means the behavior of the individual is affected by values. If the values tie up with existing practices, behavior will be positive while if values contradict with the existing system or practices, attitudes will be negative and hence the behavior. This is why the managers need to understand the values of employees.  

Classification of values: Values can be classified in different types under different approaches. 

  • Two level classification: Milten Rokeach classified values into two types or sets of values as terminal and instrumental values from the Rokeach Value Survey. Each set consists of 18 value items. Terminal values refer to the individual desirable end-states or the end goals of existence. Respectful job position, social prestige, happiness, good social network, life time achievement award, luxurious life etc. are some example of terminal values. Such goals are desired to attain during his or her lifetime. 

    “Instrumental values refer to the means of achieving one’s terminal values. They are preferable modes of behavior of individual which are shown by employees to attain their end state goals”.

  • Seven-level classification approach
    C.W. Graves classified the values in seven levels as reactive, tri-balistic, egocentrism, conformity, manipulative, socio-centric and existential. As the study focuses, modern managers stress socio-centric and existential values while traditional managers stress conformity and manipulative values.  Reactive values: These values stress on reacting for basic physiological needs being unaware of oneself and other. 


    Tribalistic values: These values stress on exercising the authority requiring high dependence and influenced by tradition. 

    Egocentric values:
     These values stress on individualism and desire for individual responsibilities. 

    Conformity values: These values demand that others accept his or her values or ideas. 

    Manipulative values: These values stress on accomplishment of goals by manipulating things and people. 

    Socio-Centric values: Such values stress on establishing the social relationship through job. 

    Existential values: Such values stress on self-fulfilment through job with high tolerance for ambiguity and divergent values.

4. Need and Goals 

Need is the state of deficiency of goods and services required for physiological as well as psychological well being. Need is motivating force which encourages individual for efforts to get satisfaction. Need can range from basic survival needs i.e. common to all human beings to cultural, intellectual and social needs. Needs are created because of imbalance in system. Unsatisfied needs are the source of tension in individual which encourages for searching the means to satisfy them. Searching behavior of individual creates the differences in behavior. Abraham Maslow as a humanist explained that to achieve ultimate goals, a number of basic needs must be met first such as need for food, safety, love and self-esteem. People have an inborn desire to be self actualized. Such needs, according to Maslow, form a hierarchy from basic to more complex needs.

5. Motives

Motives are factor describing why an individual selects particular curse of action from among all available courses of actions. Motives are the starting point of motivation process. Motives are the channels through which the individual thinks the need can be best satisfied. This is reflected in the behavioral choice. This means motives are the driving forces for any particular action. Motives are derived from needs as individual performs for fulfilling the needs. Motives are strengthening by action-oriented derives which provide and emerging trust for accomplishing goals. Here, needs are first converted into drive which becomes the motive of an individual. 

Motives can be classified into three types as primary motives, general motives and secondary motives. 

  • Primary motives: Primary motives are physiological and hence unlearned. They reduce the tension, hunger, thrust, sleep, rest, etc. are primary motives in individual. 
  • General motives: General motives are stimulating motives which are unlearned and interest based. Curiosity, manipulation and activity motives are common general motives. 
  • Secondary motives: Secondary motives are psychological based learned motives. Achievement, power, affiliation, status, etc. are secondary motives. 

6. Sensation

Sensation is the act of feeling or sensing information or stimulus from the environment. Sensation is done through five sense organs i.e. skin, tongue, nose, ear and eye. These organs receive information through internal as well as external stimuli. Color, sound, light, motion, size, speed, etc. are obtained from external stimuli whereas heartbeat, secretion of hormones, digestion process, etc. are sensed with internal stimuli.

Sensation is the initial phase of perception though there is no unanimous agreement in difference and similarity between perception and sensation. Sensation, in general, is the reception of all the sensory information while perception is made with sensing and filtering such sensory information. Sensation is base drive to motivate people which affects on behavior. This means, sensation drives individual for their activities with higher degree of motivation at work place.

7. Emotions

Emotion is derived from the Latin word ’emovere’ which means to mobilize or to excite. Emotion is thus, derive the psychological as well as physical activities which can easily be observed by others. This is a coordinated package of biological arousal, thoughts or mental evolution and behavior expression.  

Biological arousal is a physical change such as increased heartbeat and breathing, sweating, disturbing voice, crying, being faint, etc. Such changes are caused by changing stimuli. 

Thought or mental evaluations are the processes of analyzing and associating meaning with an emotion. This helps to shape behavior of individual. 

Behavior expression is the activities or behavior guided by emotion. Gesture voice tone, body movements, and facial expression are such behavior expression.

8. Cognitive dissonance

“Cognitive dissonance refers to any incompatibility that an individual might perceive between two or more of this or her attitude, or between his or her behaviors and attitudes”. Dissonance occurs when a person perceives a logically inconsistency in their ideas, beliefs and motivation. This means if a person has a strong conflict or opposing idea with others. Employees if they do not realize or convince with supervisor’s idea or new approach of management in supervision, motivation and leadership, they may create strongly aggressive behavior thinking that ‘I am alright in this matter’. This further adds new reason or justification to support one’s choices. Cognitive dissonance helps to predict the degree to engage in attitude and behavior change.

Suppose Jack has joined an organization for the position of marketing manager. He worked hard to expand market share of XYZ product. He designed a marketing campaign and got approval from senior management authority. Under his direct involvement, the campaign was conducted and almost 20 percent additional expenses were also incurred. Unexpectedly, the market share did not expand as per estimation. He felt upset because nothing was going as expected. He was suffering from the uncomfortable, unpleasant state of cognitive dissonance. 

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