23
Feb 18

Group Satisfaction In the Workplace

Workplaces can offer an amazing amount of resources and examples of human behavior, on an individual level and as a group.  Workplaces are unique in the fact that they bring a multitude of people together, who all have a wide range of interests and beliefs, and requires them to interact together.  This also makes for plenty of examples for looking at how organizations act.

Currently I work as a helicopter mechanic, and with me particular, I have been there the longest and seen a lot of changes in the organizational environment.  Throughout the decade plus that I have been working at this facility I have easily seen or experienced most aspects, both good and bad, that could be experienced in an organization.  In particular, the last two years, to say the least, has been a rollercoaster of an experience.

Up until two years ago everyone on the crew that I work on got along great.  Job satisfaction, the attitude that person has towards their job and other aspects of it (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012) was very high.  Why?  Because we all loved our job.  For almost a decade our crew was the only one at the facility that worked on the AH-64 Apache airframe, a matter of pride for our crew.  Everyone worked together well and got along great, interpersonal relationships were smooth, and people’s job performance was excellent.  It wasn’t to last, however, as we received notice that the Active Duty was taking all the Apache airframes from National Guard assets.  As a result, our future at the facility was unknown.

As it turns out, we weren’t the only ones who were uncertain of our future.  After the last Apache left two years ago the leadership was faced with a whole crew of people with nothing to do.  Little guidance was given as to what would become of us, would we stay together as a crew? Strong friendships had developed over the years and we worked well together.  Would we be forced to take a demotion?  Would we have a choice on where we went, if split up? These and many more questions went unanswered.  For almost two years our crew “floated” around, showing up to work just to be assigned random jobs that no one else wanted.  Conflicts developed, sick and vacation time was abused, showing up on time became almost an option.

The behavior throughout this time has been interesting to observe, with a wide range of behaviors occurring that affected the organization of our crew.  Disengagement, or withdrawal, was common.  As mentioned, people often showed up late, left early, or took whole days off when they normally wouldn’t.  Others would show up but not engage in the work that was assigned and going above and beyond, something common before, was nonexistent.  When faced with a task that they may not like or appreciated, withdrawal behavior is common and is something that must be countered (Schneider, et. al, 2012).  Job satisfaction and moral was at an all-time low, but there would be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Did we receive the Apaches back? Nope.  We were, eventually, given a set of shiny new UH-60 Blackhawks to take care of, however, while the other crews kept their older models.  That improved moral a bit.  In the coming weeks and months conflict among our crew has almost disappeared.  We have been working together as we used to, having a common goal and sense of pride, with an increase in moral.

Since the acquisition of our own aircraft, however, the main characteristics of job satisfaction are being displayed, skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and job feedback (Schneider, et. al, 2012).  We all feel that what we are being engaged in the variety of tasks that we are best suited for, not just doing the scut work of others, but actually taking care of our own equipment.  Our performance directly impacts the flight schedule, influencing task identity and significance.  Being assigned our own aircraft has improved autonomy and the better we work the more positive feedback we have received.

There was more that the leadership could’ve done throughout this transition period.  Kept us more informed, provided better engagement through the assigning of aircraft to our crew to instill responsibility, or even just took the time to sit down with us.  Only once, in the beginning, were we ever brought together and our future was discussed, and even then, answers weren’t forthcoming.  The lack of leadership provided little motivation or opportunity to achieve the characteristics of job satisfaction.  In the end, however, things seemed to have worked out, and I look forward to what the future holds.

 

References:

 

Schneider, F.W, Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012).  Applied Psychology (2nd ed.).  Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


22
Feb 18

The Perceptual Biases of Management

At one point or another, most of us have probably experienced a lack of recognition for a job well done. Instead, it may have been that no matter how hard we tried, we never seemed to get the attention of our boss. For example, Mr. Smith, who is always slacking off but sucking up as much as possible, may get the VP promotion over Mr. Stein. Mr. Stein puts in many hours, always gets feedback from his customers but has constructively challenged authority to foster new ideas. Unfortunately for Mr. Stein, his previous behavior may be costing him that next promotion. In fact, his behavior may drastically influence all future interactions that he may have with his supervisor. But why would this be?

This could be happening due to two different concepts, both of which operate under the idea of a perceptual bias, with the first being selective perception and the second being the halo effect. To understand how each of these can influence managerial decisions, it is important to first define a perceptual bias and then define selective perception and the halo effect. Perceptual biases are errors that disrupt and distort the perceptual process, thus leading to faulty judgements. These can occur because we, as humans, attempt to create shortcuts of understanding. Attempting to analyze every detail of behavior would require too many cognitive resources; as such, we sometimes rely on assumptions to fill in missing information (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). In other words, we may not always have the full picture and will then rely upon previous experience to piece everything together. Sometimes, this process works as it should, helping to protect us from danger for example. Other times, this process operates inefficiently and may be causing us to act in ways we normally would not.

Now that you have a better understanding of a perceptual bias, selective perception can be examined. Have you ever been in a situation where you were the one scolded for doing something wrong, even though every other staff member did it? Worse yet, you were scolded again, after the original issue, for something completely different? Come to find out, again, everyone did the same thing, yet you were still the one to get punished. Why is this? It could be attributed to selective perception. This is when a manager is only able to see one piece of the whole picture at any given time (Schneider et al., 2012). That manager is selectively perceiving a specific occurrence. The reason for this is that it is impossible to take in everything happening at every given time; thus, a manager must find a way to essentially make sense of what they can see. In this case, they are punishing you because their past experience shows that you have made mistakes. As such, that manager may think that you will have a higher occurrence of issues and continue to watch you more closely than others. This leads into another type of perceptual bias, the halo effect. This can occur when a manager creates a general impression of an employee, specifically based upon a single characteristic. Within the work setting, this is most likely to show up on a performance appraisal (Schneider et al., 2012). For example, if an associate comes off as negative to the manager, he or she could receive a poor review because the manager may see everything they do as negative, even if they actually have a lot of job knowledge and skill. Additionally, there is the chance for the similar-to-me effect to occur, which is when an employee is perceived as much better than they actually are because they are very similar to the manager appraising them (Schneider et al., 2012).

The above scenarios demonstrate that perceptual biases can occur across a variety of situations; however, what actually influences them? To answer that, it is necessary to provide a brief overview of a few studies. Dearborn and Simon (1958) demonstrated that industrial executives did utilize selective perception, specifically in aspects of situations that related to their departmental goals and activities, which may have impacted decision-making ability. Walsh (1988) countered this by demonstrating that a manager’s belief structures did not have any detrimental impact on decision making; additionally, very few managers viewed the organizational world along narrow functional criteria such as those presented in Dearborn and Simon’s study. Bayer et al. (1997) revisited both studies by adding more layers to each in order to understand the decision making process at a deeper level. It was found that managers’ information processing is somewhat influenced by functional experience, but not in the ways previously thought. Additionally, the variations between the Dearborn and Simon and Walsh studies were found to be a result of procedural differences for each experiment versus true variations. That said, is there a one size fits all approach to why these biases occur?

Unfortunately, I would have to argue that no, there is not. However, from personal experience, I know that there are many different factors that can impact perceptual biases. When I first started in management, many of my biases were developed from previous experiences in my own career or life. However, as I continued to grow and develop, the level at which these biases influenced my decisions declined. The reason? Awareness. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to be aware of what it is you are actually doing. Nobody should expect you to be perfect as that is unrealistic. However, I have learned that people, especially employees, do expect that you should be fair. Being aware of your actions internally will help to demonstrate fairness and equality externally. In having interacted with a few high-level individuals, the ones I respect and remember are those that do not forget that they had to start somewhere too. The ones that I do not care for are those that forgot the essence of who they are and would also prefer to select Mr. Smith over Mr. Stein.

References

Beyer, J. M., Chattopadhyay, P., George, E., Glick, W. H., Ogilvie, D., & Pugliese, D. (1997). The selective perception of managers revisited. Academy of Management Journal, 40(3), 716-737. Retrieved from
http://ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/199782989?accountid=13158

Dearborn, D. C., & Simon, H. A. (1958). Selective perception: A note on the departmental identifications of executives. Sociometry, 21(2), 140-144. doi: 10.2307/2785898

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Walsh, J. P. (1988). Selectivity and selective perception: An investigation of manager’s belief structures and information processing. Academy of Management Journal, 31(4), 873-896. Retrieved from
http://ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/199822948?accountid=13158


22
Feb 18

Navigating Job Satisfaction

Workplaces come in many shapes and sizes; from small local businesses to large-scale global corporations and everything in between. Regardless of the job or size of the organization, most individuals searching for a job hold their happiness high on their needs list. There is no doubt that job satisfaction can greatly affect a persons happiness, as the average American worker spends a great deal of their time working. It is important for leaders in the workplace to understand what job satisfaction is, what contributes to job satisfaction, and how it affects their workers.

Before we can move on, it is important to know and understand what exactly job satisfaction is and what it entails. Jobs satisfaction can be defined as “a persons attitude toward his or her overall job as well as toward various aspects of the job; it is a predisposition to respond to one’s work environment in a favorable or unfavorable manner.” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) A person spending multiple hours of their week working wants to feel good about their work and their working environment, and employers should work to make their organizations a place where job satisfaction is high.

Some factors that contribute to job satisfaction include job characteristics and social/organizational factors. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Job characteristics refer to “the content and nature of job tasks themselves.” These tasks are essential to determining job satisfaction because a the work an employee is expected to complete must be personally interesting and satisfying. Work that is meaningful will make an employee more satisfied with their job. (Schneder, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Social/organizational factors can refer a persons relationships with supervisors/coworkers and the rewards for their work (i.e. pay, promotions). When a person feels that they have equal and fair reward for their work and they maintain good social relationships with others in the workplace, they will have higher job satisfaction. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Overall, a person’s tasks at work, supervisor/coworker relationships, and reward greatly influence a person’s job satisfaction, and therefore are important factors for an employer to keep in mind.

This video talks about 5 factors that influence job satisfaction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DOR3AnyLOQ

Now that we know what constitutes job satisfaction, we must understand how poor job satisfaction can affect an employee. Employee withdrawal behaviors and performance are two outcomes of poor job satisfaction. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Those who dislike their jobs tend to withdraw (missing work and/or quitting). These behaviors are seen as direct results of poor job satisfaction. Obviously, with low job satisfaction, employees are likely to not perform well. If a person does not see their job as “worthwhile” they will not be invested and will not be productive. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Both of these behaviors (withdrawal and poor performance) are bad for employers, as it is costly to pay for employees who are not providing adequate work for their pay. However, they may be corrected with focusing on factors that increase job satisfaction. These factors give employees motivation to work and will create satisfied employees. It is important to remember that job satisfaction can affect an employees performance- whether good or bad.

As workplaces continue to grow and become more concerned with the wellbeing of their employees, it is important to remember job satisfaction- what it is, what contributes to it, and the effects of it. Job satisfaction not only benefits the employee by providing happiness and meaning, but it benefits employers by having a productive and effective workplace.

References

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications


21
Feb 18

Team Cohesion Leads to Success

A team is a small group of people with a common goal, all of whom have a skill to offer on the quest to obtain the goal (Nelson, 2018).  Teams are proving vital to organization success for several reasons.  As society progresses and modernizes, the work that organizations perform is also progressing, and becoming more in-depth and complicated (Nelson, 2018).  As a result, more individuals are needed to complete tasks that work together to achieve a common goal.  Furthermore, as organizations expand, progress, and offer specialized products or output, workers with more specialized skills are also needed (Nelson, 2018).

As you can tell, teams are the pieces that really make the wheel go round.  But what if some pieces were damaged?  What if some pieces didn’t quite fit?  The wheel might not go round, or if it did, it might not move as efficiently as it could.  For this reason, team cohesion is greatly important.

Cohesion can be described through four unique elements.  First, cohesion possesses multidimensionality, and consists of various factors that help to forge the bond in the team (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012).  Cohesion is also notably dynamic, and is witnessed to have a special element to it (Schneider et al., 2012).  Affectivity within cohesion is also important to recognize, as members of the team have their own feelings about the team and the common goal (Schneider et al., 2012).  Finally, cohesion is instrumental in the sense that just because a team member might not agree on all accounts with another team member, their common goal is still the same (Schneider et al., 2012).

Contributing to cohesion is accomplished through both individual and social factors.  One’s personal attitude and performance is important to the team performance, and these factors can influence one another (Schneider et al., 2012).  For example, imagine the team captain of the hockey team, charged with motivating his fellow teammates, as well as directing and guiding a lot of the action on the ice, shows up to practice and games always in a bad mood, and never putting in his best effort.  His performance, and lack of effort, can spill off onto the teammates as well.  Under the same scenario, the teammates are not affected by their captain’s poor attitude lately, but are instead picking up his slack.  This in turn motivates the captain to put in more effort for his team.

On the topic of team and cohesion, and using this same scenario described above, the team epitomizes cohesion when they do indeed pick up the slack for another teammate, and still drive on to achieve their common goal.  Roles are also relevant within a team.  In fact, research has suggested the importance of role clarity, acceptance, and performance on cohesion (Schneider et al., 2012).  When every member of the team knows their job, accepts it, and performs their job well, cohesion is better achieved.

Within an organization, teams are often formulated to achieve various goals  throughout, which also later may even help to further larger goals, and those may help further even larger goals, and so on.  Organizational goals can be plenty, although are usually concise.  When a team is put in place to accomplish a task, it makes sense that a team that works well together would be the most effective.  It is important to note that cohesion and success can still be acquire even when team members are not fully alike, or do not fully see eye to eye.  As the saying goes, “it takes all kinds to make the world go round.”  It also takes all kinds to make the team wheel go round.

 

Nelson, Anthony, PhD. (2018).  Applied Social Psychology Course Commentary.  Presented on PSYCH 424 Course Content site lecture at The Pennsylvania State University.

Schneider, Frank W., Gruman, Jamie A., & Coutts, Larry M. (2012).  Applied Social Psychology:  Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems.  Second Edition.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.


21
Feb 18

Group projects for Distance learners

Perhaps you know that feeling, when you read through the syllabus for the first time, see the “group project” section, and immediately cringe. Online group projects sound great; they give you practice learning from and working with others. Your professor insists that experiences like this will prepare you for your career because having team work experience is essential. Working effectively with others, especially those who may not be easy, is an excellent skill to have. Group projects may be an effective teaching technique in the classroom. However, the circumstances of online learning are different than a traditional classroom, so the same techniques may not have the same impact.

Are online group projects really mimicking real-life work settings? This has not been my experience, as many of my peers have varying degrees of commitment and goals in college courses. Yes, everyone in the class would like to pass the class, but not everyone cares about the subject or are motivated by the same factors. In my experience, this leaves one or two students carrying the rest of the group and doing most of the work. A recent study found that in most projects students admitted that most of the project was completed by one student rather than the entire group contributing equal work (Theobald, J., Eddy, S. L., Grunspan, D. Z., Wiggins, B. L., & Crowe, A. J., 2017). Online groups require organization and communication. Therefore the group spends a significant amount of time being polite and figuring out how to communicate online effectively that the project often becomes secondary.

I curiously searched the internet for any research supporting my feelings, and I found endless blogs and articles from students complaining about group projects. But of course, just because you do not enjoy doing something, does not mean that you did not learn from that experience. A Washington University study found that the “social dynamics of a group, such as whether one person dominates the conversation or whether students work with a friend, affect academic performance” (Eckart, 2017). I have never worked on a group project where group members were not assigned to me. Eckart also discusses findings that support that students’ who can choose their group members tend to do better in groups (Eckart, 2017). Though, a problem is that students choose group-mates that are most like them (Freeman, S., Theobald, R., & Crowe, A. J., 2017). This makes the project run smoother and more efficiently, but what is the point of group projects if you are not learning to work with people who are different than yourself? This also is not very manageable in online settings, where you do not know your classmates.

With distance learning becoming more accessible and widespread, there are more opportunities to incorporate and understand more effective group processes. There are certainly positive aspects of group projects, especially in the classroom. Though, not every aspect that is effective in a traditional classroom will have the same impact in an online setting. There must be more effective ways for online students to experience the benefits of a group project that considers the online setting and the barriers associated with it.

References

Eckart, Kim (2017). Group project? Taking turns, working with friends may improve grades. University of Washington News. Retrieved from washington.edu/news/2017/09/25/group-project-taking-turns-working-with-friends-may-improve-grades/

Freeman, Scott, Theobald, Roddy, & Crowe, Alison J. (2017). Likes attract: Students self-sort in a classroom by gender, demography, and academic characteristics. Sage Journal. Retrieved from journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1469787417707614

Theobald, Eli J., Eddy, Sarah L., Grunspan, Daniel Z., Wiggins, Benjamin L., & Crowe, Alison J. (2017). Student perception of group dynamics predicts individual performance: Comfort and equity matter. Retrieved from: journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0181336


21
Feb 18

What does contribute to high job satisfaction?

We’ve all seen, heard, or read about how great it is to work for Apple, Microsoft, and Google to name a few. These companies all have a reputation for their employees having high job satisfaction. So, I Googled (no pun intended), “why is [Google, Microsoft, Apple] a good company to work for? Sure enough, up popped an article about each one giving the top reasons why.

As I read through each article I thought about the definition of job satisfaction, which is defined as an employee’s attitude about whether they feel favorably or unfavorably about their job overall as well as the various aspects of their job, (Schnieder, Gruman, & Couts, 2012, p.225). I also considered McClelland’s Need Theory based on a need for power, achievement, and affiliation. So what does contribute to high job satisfaction?

As most would expect, one of the top reasons, albeit not necessarily the number one reason, was all three companies were cited as providing good salaries and benefits to their employees. I don’t think there is any surprise there and feeling as though you’re being compensated fairly and have security with good benefits certainly is an important factor for overall job satisfaction. However, when looking at the job characteristics of skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and job feedback, I also found common themes that supported these among each company. All three noted they had the opportunity to provide input, offer ideas, had diversity in their work, and felt they were part of something bigger in creation of their technologies. Some examples of this were:

  • Task identity, task significance, and job feedback was noted from Apple employees who felt their mission was changing the world and Microsoft employees who stated they had influence in making work products used by everyone, (Fiegerman, 2012; Bort, 2016)
  • Skill variety as with Google employees feeling they had diversity in the work they could do; Apple employees being encouraged to spend 20% of their work time exploring outside projects that could benefit the individual’s creativity as well as contribute to the company and having the security of a big company but the career flexibility of feeling like they worked in a small operation and could change jobs when they got bored; and Microsoft stating they had influence in providing products everyone could use as well as diversity in the work they could do, (Surojit, 2012; Fiegerman, 2012; Bort, 2016).

The one item that wasn’t blatantly stated or obvious was autonomy; however, given the strength of the other four job characteristics, one would conceive it would be safe to assume autonomy plays a part as well in the satisfaction of these job characteristics.

The other top reasons why these companies are good to work for and contributes to job satisfaction, is the social and organizational factors. These include social influence processes, supervisor/coworker relationships, equitable rewards, and promotion opportunities, (Schneider, et.al., 2012, p.227). It was clear for all three of these companies that these aspects were being met. Microsoft and Apple employees included working with great, bright and talented people and their CEO as good reasons to work for their companies, (Bort, 2016; Fiegerman, 2012). While Google employees indicated their TGIF get-together was a top reason; these get-togethers were meant to break the ice between new employees and senior leaders, provide updates on Google events, and a Q&A session with Senior leaders where employees could ask anything. They also had discussion platforms to share ideas that are monitored closely by leaders as well as employees providing input on new products they get to use before they go public, (Surojit, 2012).

Taking this all into consideration and looking at McClelland’s Need Theory, you see that all three—power, achievement, and affiliation—are all present in these reasons. The need for power, specifically, socialized power is present in these organizations. These employees value their CEO and co-workers and have positive relationships between and among them. The need for achievement is met as employees feel they have a large influence on the products they are making and being used by everyone and in changing the world, (Bort, 2016; Fiegerman, 2012). The need for affiliation is certainly met, as all three companies have varying avenues for establishing and maintaining relationships, whether its by offering free gourmet meals to sit down and dine with coworkers, having TGIF get-togethers, or working in a small operational environment as a team, (Surojit, 2012; Fiegerman, 2012). This supports the idea all three are needed if you are going to have success in an organization, and these are successful organizations, (PSU WC L7, 2018, p.2).

Needless to say, there is also a negative side to working at these companies; however, those seem to be outweighed by the positives that give their employees high job satisfaction and companies high retention rates.

References:

Bort, J. (2016, Jun 29). 5 Best and 5 Worst things about working at Microsoft. Inc. Retrieved from:

https://www.inc.com/business-insider/5-best-worst-things-employees-working-microsoft-ceo-nadella.html

Fiegerman, S. (2012, Jun 18). Why working at Apple is a dream job. Business Insider. Retrieved from:

http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-what-employees-really-love-about-working-for-apple-2012-6

Penn State University World Campus. (2018). PSYCH424: Applied Social Psychology. Lesson 7: Organizational Life AND Teams. from: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1924488/modules/items/23682591

Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Couts, L. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousands Islands, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Surojit, C. (2012, Jan 20). Top 5 reasons why google is the best company to work for. International Business Times. Retrieved from:

http://www.ibtimes.com/top-5-reasons-why-google-best-company-work-553844

 

 

 

 

 

 


19
Feb 18

Diversity and discrimination

When I think about diversity, I feel warm because to me diversity is a mixture of things or people that come together to add variety to a situation. And as the saying goes, ‘variety is the spice of life.’ Variety in my mind changes the atmosphere and adds flavor to many things. However, that’s how I think and although it aches me, I have become conscious to the fact that many people don’t share the same feelings about diversity, variety, inclusion, cooperation etc. Many people are drawn to the opposite, and support discrimination, segregation, separation and its likeness. Diversity doesn’t end discrimination, and it often negatively impacts minority groups.

I remember being a freshman in college and experiencing what I believe was discrimination. The school that I attended, I would considered somewhat diverse. It was a mixture of probably 60% Caucasian and 40% minorities. The staffing was about the same. As a freshman, I tried to stay on top of my game and worked very hard. However, in one class I was getting a B on all my assignments, so I inquired about it with the instructor. Just to find out what I could do differently to make sure I got an A. I asked, “what’s stopping me from getting an A in my assignments and she responded, “ummm it’s just the way you write.”

“Just the way I write? What do you mean?” I asked. And she said again it’s just the way you write. That’s the only response I was given. So, I went to my English professor (whose class I was averaging A in) and I asked her about my writing. Like I expected, she said she didn’t see anything wrong with it and couldn’t offer any suggestion for changing it. I decided that that wasn’t the school for me. Because if I attend a school I don’t want to be graded lightly or harshly because of my race. I want to be graded on the quality of work I produce. And I knew that sometimes being the only minority, in some classes may lead to alternative reasons for my  grades.

I’ve heard and witnessed many similar stories involving different groups. The one thing that stays true in each situation is the humiliation and disgust that people experience when they are treated that way. Although society has come a far way in bridging the gap of segregation, there is still a lot of work to me done. Sometimes it seems impossible, but we can’t stop trying.

 

 


18
Feb 18

Project Implicit: A Nation’s Skeletons Revealed

In 1998, three scientists created what is now known as Project Implicit. The project had its humble beginnings rooted in a seemingly innocuous association test that had vast implications for society in its entirety. We have have biases. We are biased about our clothes, our hair products, the car we drive but the biases that we are afraid to admit to are addressed by this test. In a quick paced visual association test, a respondent is given several sets of items with instructions to associate specific items with specific responses (Not many, if any, would want to freely admit they have biases for or against varying demographics and the point of implicit biases is that you are not aware of them). The response time is then calculated and thus your implicit biases can be measured. On the surface, it seems simple however, the test itself is incredibly intuitive and the first of its kind.

Since its creation, the data has been pooled and the book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People was published in 2013. The book submerges the reader into the methodology of the researches and what sets their work apart from any other reporting and testing methods. The biggest factor is that the test itself is relatively free from self-monitoring possibilities. Participants are largely unaware of how the test is measuring their biases and the real validity behind the measures. This provides a highly accurate compilation of results.

The test measures biases on a range of topics: race, disability, sex, weight, sexuality, weapons, age and even presidents. What they have found throughout their research is that far more people than any of us would like to believe have implicit biases that could be affecting their day to day decisions and could subsequently affect others. There are many American citizens that would love to believe that racism died with the civil rights movement, the advent of desegregation and affirmative action but unfortunately that just is not the case. We may see it with our own eyes as we scroll through the various feeds of social media or view the comments section on YouTube or even CSPAN videos. However, we might tell ourselves that these are just troll accounts or even perhaps just Russian bots attempting to divide and conquer. The disappointing reality is that there is still deep seated racism in the minds of many. This project set out to document that.

The way in which the researchers assess the overwhelming amount of residual bias in our world today, is an incredibly objective one. They reference the “automatic and reflective” reactions of the mind. One is conscious (reflective) and the other unconscious (automatic). Our implicit biases reside in that unconscious part of our mind that is shaped by our experiences and the memories formed from them. Those associations that develop are exactly what the test brings to light in a record-able black and white form of data to be measured. Although the validity and reliability of this test is high, many people are faced with high amounts of cognitive dissonance when staring down their results. How we deal with this dissonance can determine whether these implicit biases are addressed or not.

References:
Banaji, M. R., & Greenwald, A. G. (2016). Blindspot: hidden biases of good people. New York: Bantam Books.
ProjectImplicit. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2018, from https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
(n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2018, from http://www.projectimplicit.net/


18
Feb 18

Healthcare: Women in Leadership Roles & Inter-group Dynamics

Under many organizational hierarchies, it is commonplace for an older male to be in the role of highest authority. All United States Presidents have been male. There are 429 males in the 2018 United States Congress, which includes 535 Senators and Representatives. According to the World Health Organization workforce statistics, women account for more than 75% of the healthcare workforce in the United States (2008). This statistic aligns with the common assumption that women are caring, affectionate and compassionate which are necessary traits to work in healthcare.  The same World Health Organization statistics showed that women also accounted for a majority of the associate professional positions in healthcare, but very few of the professional and physician roles (2008). As with any statistical data, there are always outliers.  I happen to be employed at a non-profit healthcare organization that happens to be an outlier to this data.  

The organization I work for is a nationwide, well-kept secret that is in the business of caring for others. This particular organization goes into communities with a need and does it’s best to meet it whether it is providing housing for the homeless, assisting newly released prisoners with acclimation to their new life and job search, and senior living. My location focuses on Senior Living Housing – Independent Living, Assisted Living, Rehabilitation/Physical Therapy, Long Term Care and Memory Support. Our building is relatively small compared to others in the organization, employs just over 260 employees and we continuously compete with several other large healthcare facilities in the area. Of our four executives, three are females and one is male. We have thirteen department managers, twelve of which are females and one is male. Also included in our leadership structure are five supervisors, three are females and two are males. To put these numbers in perspective, we have two nursing departments whose managers are registered nurses (2) and supervisors are also registered nurses (2). The rest of the leaders in our building may come from similar facilities, but are not medically trained.

Although our campus defies gender norms when it comes to leadership, our culture is very much in line with that of the rest of the United States.  In terms of individualism versus collectivism, our culture leans heavily towards individualism. Even though our mission dictates a common goal of all departments, that they are extremely motivated to follow, the process on how to achieve that goal creates conflict. Each employee that walks through our door every day truly believes that they are there to provide excellent service to the residents that live in our buildings. However, there is much conflict between departments. As a member of Human Resources, I am constantly having to mediate discussions between departments. Schneider, Gruman and Coutts (2012) discuss the Social Identity Theory and share that on assumption of the theory is that people want to feel good about themselves, and about the group that they belong to. Potential for conflict exists when individuals or groups notice differences between their group and another and an “us versus them” sets in. This mentality prevents the groups from being able to work together towards their common goal.

Coalition building would be a great step towards reducing conflict between the departments. We have an employee led committee that plans campus-wide events for all employees. These events promote acquaintance potential allowing people from different groups to socialize and get to know each other on a personal level while doing something entertaining. It would also be in our best interest to try to develop cooperative activities for the groups to do to meet the same goal together.

 

References

Center for American Women and Politics (2018). Women in the U.S. Congress 2018. Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University. Retrieved from: http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/women-us-congress-2018

Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2018). PSYCH 424 Lesson 6: Intergroup Relations/Diversity. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1924488/modules/items/23682591

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

World Health Organization. (2008). Gender and Health Workforce Statistics. Spotlight on Statistics. A fact file on health workforce statistics. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/hrh/statistics/spotlight_2.pdf


18
Feb 18

Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

It was 1966 in Oakland, California, a time of racial discrimination and turmoil amongst African Americans and the police forces (Duncan, 2017). In order to combat these social injustices, two men named Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded a revolutionary group known as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (later changed simply to the Black Panther Party) (Duncan, 2017). Originally, the Black Panthers were to safeguard African American neighborhoods from the police, but they eventually became even more precautious; they promoted arming every African American and the exemption of African Americans from the draft (Duncan, 2017). There was much social tension between in-groups during this period of the 1960s. What else was there to do but to ban together and protect one another from the wanton violence that continually seemed to plague African Americans and their families?

The Black Panther Party was not vehement toward all white people, but aligned themselves with nonracist whites, as each had a common purpose to bring about social justice and eradicate the racial discrimination and chaos that had been ravaging that part of the country (Duncan, 2017). This leads me to believe that the nonracist white people valued their social identity (a committed membership to a group that is significant to one’s self-concept) within the Black Panther Party more than their own personal identities (e.g., race, appearance, desire for personal achievement). However, the Black Panther Party and all of its members seemed to exhibit the characteristics explicated by the Social Dominance Theory.

The Social Dominance Theory explains that every individual belongs to a group, and that each individual offers resources of some kind for members of that particular group. These members are always inclined to protect the group over their individual selves. The aim of the Black Panther Party seemed to be to gain equal footing with the whites in power at the time. Each group desired the resources and the power associated with being at the top of the social hierarchy. Positive social value (e.g., high status) causes members of the high status groups to aim to maintain the social hierarchy just as it is (Pratto, Sidanious, & Levin, 2006; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999), lest they relinquish their resources and power to another subordinate group (in this case, the Black Panther Party). This led to the FBI’s director, J. Edgar Hoover to declare the group the “greatest threat to national security” in 1969 (Duncan, 2017).

Even though the Black Panther Party provided social services like “education, tuberculosis testing, legal aid, transportation assistance, ambulance service, and the manufacture and distribution of free shoes to poor people,” the FBI labeled the Black Panthers a communist organization and therefore an adversary of the United States government (Duncan, 2017). After this, many underhanded tactics (e.g., sabotage, misinformation, lethal force) by COINTELPRO essentially wiped out the Black Panther Party. The FBI and the United States government was the more powerful and resourceful in-group at the time (and still remains so). There is much to learn from this fearful reaction from our US government, and much to learn about how in-groups view out-groups as bona fide threats.

 


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