Organisational Psychology This Chapter Reviews the Literature Term Paper

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Organisational Psychology

This chapter reviews the literature and research outcomes within which the current research is located. It identifies the theory currently in use and sets the theoretical context for the study.

Emotions and feelings shape and lubricate social transactions and in this way emotions contribute to, and reflect, the structure and culture of organizations. Order and control, the very essence of the 'organization' of work, concern what people 'do' with their feelings (Fineman, 1993). Emotions suffuse all significant aspects of an individual's experience, including all meaningful objects, activities and relations, and underlie virtually the entire edifice referred to as culture (Fineman, 1993). Yet it is difficult to find much evidence of the importance of emotions in organizational theory.

Emotion influences the occurrence and course of altruism, creativity, learning and memory, social perception and interaction, social comparison, resource allocation, self-evaluation, moral reasoning, attraction and liking, attributions and expectations, judgement and decision making, self-regulation and coping and irrational beliefs (Cornelius, 1996)., Emotion is also relevant to understanding specific topics central to Organizational Psychology, such as job satisfaction, worker motivation, and how job characteristics (such as personal control) contribute to important outcomes such as productivity (Warr, 1999). A dispositional view of emotion, along with the theories and measures developed in the area of personality and emotion (Larsen, 2000) may help Organizational Psychologists better understand the personal characteristics that people bring to the workplace and how these characteristics interact with job characteristics to influence behaviour on the job (Judge & Larsen, 2001).

Why is this sentence here at the beginning of a paragraph and then there is no follow up to that sentence in the paragraph?

Emotion is now recognized as a feature of the work that many people do. A display of friendliness, involving direct eye contact and a smile, is not merely a bonus for sales and catering staff but an integral part of their jobs. Emotions suffuse all significant aspects of an individual's experience, including all meaningful objects, activities and relations, and underlie virtually the entire edifice we call culture (Fineman, 1994). Everything that is meaningful is also emotionally charged (Briner, 1999).

Emotions are not simply important because we experience them and talk about them; they are also a fundamental part of other work behaviours and attitudes (Briner, 1999). Among the many reasons to be interested in human emotions in the workplace, foremost is that, as applied scientists, one of our aspirations is to increase human welfare. Rather than being objective, welfare is subjectively defined by people in terms of their affective reactions to organizational events (Lord, Klimoski & Kanfer, 2002). Consequently, if we can find ways to alter organizational practices, social processes, or task designs in ways that increase positive emotions and reduce negative emotions, the welfare of organizational members is directly increased (Lord et al., 2002).


This section reviews a range of theories and definitions of emotions and emotions at work.

1.2.1 Emotions and Moods

It is important to define emotions carefully and distinguish emotions from moods (Lord, Klimoski & Kanfer, 2002). Izard (1992) notes that defining emotions is a complex issue, but he stresses that the experiential component of emotions -- the experience of pain, anger, and joy-is central and manifests itself as an action tendency, a biasing of perceptions, or a feeling state. He maintains that emotional experiences are activated by neural, sensorimotor, motivational, and cognitive systems, but also notes that neural systems can activate emotions without cognitive meditation Emotions are generally of short duration and are associated with a specific stimulus; mood in contrast, is more enduring, more diffuse, and less related to specific stimuli Emotions also have a stronger linkage with specific behaviours than moods do.

Emotions are also central components of human reactions to many types of stimuli. Hence, they can directly cue specific behaviours, as well as indirectly influence behaviour by their effect on physiological, cognitive, or social processes. repetition

According to Weiss (1999) emotion has been a difficult construct to define partly because emotion is a constellation of physiological, subjective, and behavioural responses that cohere as a unified construct. This multicomponent nature of emotions is seen as quite understandable when one recognizes that emotions serve adaptive functions and therefore recruit multiple systems in the service of dealing with adaptive problems). Frijda (1993) as cited in Weiss (1999), provides a summary of the general consensus among emotion researchers as to the components of an emotion. First, there is the experiential component of affect, that is, the subjective appreciation of the emotional state. Part, but not all, of this experience is valence. Emotions are valenced states, and valence is a necessary but not sufficient element of emotion. Second, this subjective experiential element is always connected to some person, object, or event. Third, most emotion researchers recognize that emotional states include recognizable physiological, bodily changes. Finally, discrete emotions contain particular action tendencies

The most global definition of emotion draws from systems theory, identifying emotion as a multi-attribute process that unfolds over time, with the attributes unfolding at different rates. (not relevant here). Emotion must be viewed as an inferred construct, and researchers should be cautioned against viewing specific operational definitions as complete and without remainder (Larsen, 2000).

Mood and emotion are closely related, but differentiating characteristics have been described. Frequently, moods and emotions are distinguished by both the intensity and duration of the affective state (Larsen, 2000). Moods, as compared to emotions, are thought to be less intense and of longer duration. Emotions tend to be punctuated; they have more definable beginnings and endings (Weiss, 1999). Many researchers have noted that while emotions always seem to be affect in relation to a particular object or event (I am angry with my colleague; I feel guilty about having lied to a friend), moods lack such an object or defining event (Larsen, 2000). They exist more as background affective states. The diffuseness of the mood, its disconnection from particular objects or circumstances, is often central to its broad cognitive and behavioral effects (Weiss, 1999).

Larsen (2000) states that it is useful to consider emotions in the context of other types of affective phenomena. Examples of three other types of affective phenomena are - moods, meta-moods and emotionally laden judgements. Perhaps most similar to emotions are moods. But whereas moods have been considered to be relatively slow-changing, weak or moderate in intensity and not necessarily responses to specific events, emotions have in contrast been considered to be rapidly changing, strong in intensity, and always in response to specific events (Parkinson et al., cited in Briner 1999). Examples of adjectives that would describe moods would include calm or sad, whereas examples of emotion adjectives could be anger or shame (Briner, 1999).

A second example of another affective phenomenon is meta-moods (Mayer and Gaschke, 1988), which are people's thoughts and feelings about moods or emotions. In addition to experiencing a mood or emotion itself, we may also have thoughts and feelings about its clarity (do I know how I feel?) and acceptability (is it ok to feel like this?), and controllability (can I change this feeling?). Affective experience may also include our own monitoring and appraisal of the affect we are experiencing: These meta-moods are likely to be much more significant in understanding the dynamics of affect than simply knowing that a particular mood or emotion is being experienced (Briner, 1999).

A third example is emotionally laden judgements which appear to be particularly relevant to work. In asking people what they mean by 'stress' or 'satisfaction' or in listening to people talk about their feelings at work, it is often the case that they use terms such as feeling valued, trusted, appreciated, exploited, or disrespected (Briner, 1999). Although these are not moods or emotions as such, feeling valued or otherwise, for example, would appear to be a central part of affective experiences at work (Briner, 1999), (Larsen, 2000).

Emotions have in the past been defined in contrast to moods in that they tend to be rapidly changing, intense and in response to specific events (Briner, 1999). Larsen (2002) states that although there are numerous definitions of emotions, most contain some or all of the following components: Cognition (e.g. appraisal, evaluation); internal reaction (e.g. heart rate); overt behaviour (e.g. approach, avoidance); facial expression (e.g. frown, smile); a goal structure (e.g. loss, anger). Particularly relevant components of emotions in the work context appear to be overt behaviours, facial expressions and goal structures (Larson, 2002). Behaviours seem important, as one of the things Organizational Psychologists want to know is how emotions affect behaviours. Facial expressions are highly relevant as an important part of emotion at work takes place in the context of jobs in which people are required to display emotion as part of their work role. Finally, goal structures seem important as they help us understand the ways in which work and work tasks may produce experienced emotions (Briner, 1999).

The volatile nature of the contemporary workplace has substantial ramifications for the emotions of organizational members - not only…[continue]

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