Behaviorism vs. the Medical Model
Human Traits (2,1)
There are three kinds of traits:
Biographical: Age, race, gender, etc.
Physical: IQ, physical strength, attractiveness
Attitudes and predispositions: communication apprehension, verbal aggressiveness.
Together these traits combine to create our personality.
They also determine how we perceive our world. They act as a filter. Bandura talked about social learning theory. Note that Bandura talks of the PERCEPTION of events, not the event itself causing our personality development. See WebCT, Unit 3 for an additional description of Bandura's work.
Behaviorism Model vs. Medical Model
Although the authors of your textbook don't say this, in Chapter 6, they have presented the outline of two different models for approaching Organizational Behavior. Both of these models attempt to explain and influence human behavior. Each of these models tries to evaluate behavior from a particular frame of reference, and make recommendations of methods to change behavior that are based on the respective model. Let's take a look at each of these models:
The Behaviorist Model (2,2)
Let's talk about the basic methodology of Behaviorism. Behaviorism is a school of thought that focuses on individual behavior as an end in itself. That is, when you are attempting to explain behavior, you don't have to look for causes. The behavior is the only thing you need to worry about. It is simple: if you change the behavior, you solve the problem.
Behaviorism is based on the pioneering work of Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner. Their ideas centered on "conditioning," which is a method of behavior modification. Initially, Skinner's work was with pigeons. He found that by rewarding successive approximations of movements, he could condition a bird to peck a key in a box. As the pigeon randomly moved closer to the key, he would give it food. By rewarding this behavior, he was able to "train" the pigeon to peck the key.
Skinner was not worried about "why" the pigeon did what it did. The behavior itself was all that concerned him. If you want to get a pigeon to peck a key, and you get the pigeon to peck the key, then you have accomplished the task, irrespective of the motivations of the bird.
Behaviorists use this same approach in their work. For example, let's say you have a problem with low production in a particular department of your company. If a behaviorist were tasked to solve this problem, she would not be particularly concerned about why production is low. Her approach would be to determine the behaviors that should be changed and then reward or punish behaviors that do not contribute to this goal. One way to do this is to institute a "piece work" system. That is, employees are paid by the unit of production. For each unit, the employee is paid a fixed amount. This system is 100% behaviorist. In its pure form, the employer doesn't care how you do your work—all he cares about is your output. If the employee produces a unit--in pigeon terms, pecks the key—then the employer rewards her—just as the pigeon would get food. If you are saying, "primitive," you are right. It functions on a very basic level: reward and punishment.
One of the most interesting features of behaviorism is that it works. By providing valent rewards, you can actually modify the behavior of employees. Countless scientific studies have verified that behaviorist approaches to problem solving in organizations actually work. Behavior can be modified by using positive and negative reinforcements to reward or punish behavior.
As you read Chapter 6, look for the behaviorist model in the author's descriptions of methods and systems. Remember that the behaviorist doesn't really care what causes problem behavior, but only about rewards and punishments that change it.
The Medical Model (2,3)
There is a second way to look at behavior. This can be