1. Discuss what determines an individual’s Personality characteristics
Some people are loud and aggressive while others are quiet and passive. Why is this so? This question can only be answered by understanding the issue of individual personality characteristics. They are an enduring part of emotions, thoughts and behaviors that characterize an individual. They are; external traits which are observable, internal states such as thoughts and situational adjustment. According to McShane & Glinow (2010), personality can be described as the manner in which a person interacts with others or reacts to others. As such, personality is defined using measurable traits that are exhibited by an individual. Personality is among the factors that model individual behavior and results in an organization. Other factors include values, perceptions, emotions, attitudes and stress. These are coupled by motivation, ability, role perceptions and facilitated by situational factors to model the behavior of an individual. Common personality traits used to describe the behavior of an individual include aggressive, ambitious, lazy, submissive, shy, timid, and loyal. Therefore, it is important to describe the factors that determine an individual’s personality characteristics.
Broadly, individual personality characteristics are determined by nature and nurture. Nature refers mainly to biological factors. One such factor is heredity. About 30 percent of temperament and 50 percent of behavioral tendencies can be attributed to heredity (McShane & Glinow, 2010). The explanation behind this is that the molecular structures of a person’s genes are responsible for the personality characteristics of that person. For example, Minnesota studies found that twins tended to exhibit similar behavior patterns. Other biological factors that determine individual personality characteristics include the brain, biofeedback and physical features. Studies indicate that certain parts of the human brain can be associated with pleasure and pain. While significant studies have not been completed regarding biofeedback, it is possible that personality is determined by internal rhythms or body processes such as hormonal secretions, brainwave patterns and blood pressure variations. Physical features are also a determinant factor of personality traits. For example, physical features such as skin color, height and body weight tend to influence people’s personal perceptions as well as other people’s perceptions of them.
Apart from nature and heredity, nurture is also a factor that affects an individual’s personality characteristics. Nurture includes aspects such as life experiences, socialization, and learning. They include cultural factors, social factors, family factors and situational factors (Behzadi & Nourollahi, 2012). Cultural factors tend to shape an individual’s attitudes towards aggression, independence, cooperation, team spirit, positive thinking and competition. This is because each culture ‘nurtures’ its members to conduct themselves in acceptable ways. Family factors also influence personality characteristics. In a family setting, issues such as guidance, supervision, cooperation and leadership are ever present. As such family greatly shapes the personality traits of children, especially in terms of instilling values. Social factors that affect an individual’s personality are determined by the process of socialization whereby an individual interacts with the society. Issues such as interpersonal communication, coordination, cooperation and good relationships define social associations. Finally, situational determine the manner in which people change their behaviors when in different situations. For example, people exhibit different personality traits when working under pressure.
2. Describe the Big Five Personality Dimensions and for each of the dimensions, provide an example of how it can positively contribute to an individual's performance.
The Big Five Personality Dimensions are extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness to experience (Robbins & Judge, 2010). Extroversion is the dimension that captures the comfort level of an individual with relationships. While extroverts tend to be sociable, assertive and gregarious, introverts tend to be quiet, timid and reserved. Therefore, for occupations that require a high level of social interaction, this dimension can contribute positively and enhance performance in sales and managerial positions. Agreeableness is a dimension that refers to the propensity of a person to defer to other people. For example, people who are highly agreeable tend to be warm, cooperative and trusting. Therefore, this dimension can positively contribute by enhancing teamwork and team spirit through cooperation, which in turn improves organizational performance. Conscientiousness is a dimension that measures reliability. A person who is highly conscientious tends to be organized, persistent, dependable and responsible. This dimension is strongly related to organizational citizenship behavior. For example, a person who is highly conscientious is likely to become a responsible and committed manager with positive results.
Emotional stability is a dimension that is taps into the ability of an individual to withstand stress. Individuals who have a positive emotional stability are usually secure, self-confident and calm while those with low emotional stability are usually insecure, depressed, anxious and nervous. According to Robbins & Judge (2010), emotional stability is strongly associated with low stress levels, job satisfaction and life satisfaction. For example, a person who has a positive emotional stability will tend to perform when working under pressure. This is because he or she will remain cal and self-confident unlike a person who becomes a nervous. A nervous person is unlikely to perform under pressure. Finally, the fifth dimension is openness to experience. It is a dimension that addresses an individual’s range of fascination with novelty and interests. People who are extremely open tend to be curious, creative and artistically sensitive. Openness to experience is important especially in terms of organizational learning. Open people are better suited to coping with organizational change and can easily adapt to changing organizational environments. For example, an open person is able to provide creative solutions to problems, and he or she can easily adapt to any part of the organization.
Behzadi, F. & Nourollahi, H. (2012) A Description and Comparison of Personality Characteristics of Competitive Individual and Team Athletes. Annals of Biological Research, 2012; 3(1): 36-40.
McShane, S.L. & Glinow, V. (2010) Organizational Behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Robbins, S.P. & Judge, T.A. (2010) Organizational Behavior. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.