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Chapter 4 Learning and Perception

Michael A. Hitt C. Chet Miller Adrienne Colella Slides by R. Dennis Middlemist

Knowledge Objectives 1.

2. 3.


Describe the effects on learning of positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, and extinction. Discuss continuous and intermittent schedules of reinforcement. Explain how principles of learning can be used to train newcomers as well as to modify the behavior of existing associates. Describe the effects of limited opportunities to learn from experience.

Knowledge Objectives 5. 6. 7. 8.

Describe the effects of unclear feedback and methods for handling such feedback. Discuss learning from failure. Identify typical problems in accurately perceiving others and solutions to these problems. Explain the complexities of causal attributions and task perception.

Fundamental Learning Principles 

Learning –

– –

A process through which individuals change their behavior based on positive or negative experiences in a situation Learning occurs only when changes in behavior happen (change is the essence of learning) Learning is driven by experience with a particular situation (learning is situationally specific)

Operant Conditioning/Social Learning 

Operant conditioning theory –

An explanation for consequence-based learning (behavior is learned as a function of its consequence)

Social learning theory –

Humans can observe others in a situation and learn from what they see (humans do not need to directly experience a specific situation to understand a behavior and its consequences)

Contingencies of Reinforcement The situation

Behavioral response

Consequences of the behavior

Positive consequences, or removal of negative ones, reinforces behavioral response

New response to the situation

Aversive consequences lead to avoidance of the same behavioral response, or to new responses to similar situations in the future

Adapted from Exhibit 4-1: Effects of Reinforcing Consequences on Learning New Behaviors

Reinforcing Contingencies ď Ź

Reinforcement always refers to a contingent event that increases the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated in the same or similar situations – –

Positive reinforcement occurs when the behavior is followed by a positive consequence(s) Negative reinforcement occurs when the behavior is followed by the absence or withdrawal of a previous negative consequence(s)

Non-reinforcing Contingencies 

Non-reinforcing contingencies always refer to a contingent events that decrease the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated in the same or similar situations – –

Punishment occurs when the behavior is followed by a negative consequence Extinction occurs when a behavior is followed by the absence of positive consequences (and by definition of punishment, negative consequences)

Type of consequence involved

Effects of Contingent Consequences Positive

Presence of a positive (Positive Reinforcement)

Absence of positive/negative (Extinction)


Removal of a negative (Negative Reinforcement)

Presence of a negative (Punishment)



Likelihood that the behavior will be repeated

Schedules of Reinforcement  

Continuous schedule—reinforcement follows each instance of desired behavior Intermittent schedule—reinforcement does not follow each instance of desired behavior – – – –

Fixed interval—reinforcement based on fixed unit of lapsed time Variable interval—reinforcement based on varying lapses of time Fixed ratio—reinforcement based on consistent number of instances of the desired behavior Variable ratio—reinforcement after desired behavior has occurred a variable number of times

Adapted from Exhibit 4-2: Schedules of Reinforcement

Training and Enhancing Performance Determine new behaviors to be learned

Establish smaller, ordered units of new behavior

Demonstrate or model desired behaviors to trainee

Use contingent reinforcement for Trainee practices new behavior in presence of trainer

New job behaviors learned, performance improves new behavior

OB Mod A formal procedure focused on improving task performance through positive reinforcement of desired behaviors and extinction of undesired behaviors

Exhibit 4-3 Shaping Behavior Through OB Modification

Low Probability-High Consequence Events ď Ź

ď Ź

ď Ź

Experiencing a particular situation only once or not at all limits the opportunity to try different approaches (behaviors and consequences) for dealing with it If an approach cannot be used multiple times, one cannot learn the likelihood of positive or negative consequences of the approach Consequently people exposed to low probability-high consequence events may have faulty learning

Unclear Feedback 

Situations often involve multiple consequences, such that one cannot clearly infer how the individual consequences affect behavior Simulation may be an approach for separating out the effects of the consequences on the behavior –

A representation of a real system that allows associates and managers to try various actions and receive feedback on the consequences of those actions

Causal Relationships at a Sports Club

Exhibit 4-4 Casual Relationships at a Sports Club

Intelligent Failure ď Ź

Intelligent failures that result in learning are the result of certain kinds of actions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Actions are thoughtfully planned. Actions have a reasonable chance of producing a successful outcome. Actions are typically modest in scale, to avoid putting the entire firm or substantial parts of it at risk. Actions are executed and evaluated in a speedy fashion, since delayed feedback makes learning more difficult. Actions are limited to domains that are familiar enough to allow proper understanding of the effects of the actions.

Three Stages of Perception 


Perception: A process that involves sensing various aspects of a person, task, or event and forming impressions based on selected facts


Stage 1: Sensing various characteristics of a person, task, or event • Touch • Sight • Smell • Taste • Hearing

Three Stages of Perception 


Perception: A process that involves sensing various aspects of a person, task, or event and forming impressions based on selected facts

Sensing 2


Stage 2: Selecting from the data those facts that will be used to form the perception • Selective or biased perception? • Accurate perception requires selection of all relevant data

Three Stages of Perception 


Perception: A process that involves sensing various aspects of a person, task, or event and forming impressions based on selected facts

Sensing 2

Selecting 3


Stage 3: Organizing the selected data into useful concepts pertaining to the object or person • Concepts help individuals predict the consequences of their behaviors • Formation of everyday concepts help people deal successfully with problems

Perceptions of People Nature of Perceiver Familiarity with Person Feeling Toward Person General Emotion State

Nature of the Situation General Nature of the Other Person Apparent Intentions of the Other Person Consequences of the Interaction Adapted from Exhibit 4-5 Person Perception

Problems in Person Perception Perception of the Person

Logical Error Halo Effect Projecting Stereotyping

Problems in Perception 

Logical error –

Individual forms an impression of a person on the basis of only one or two central characteristics

Halo effect –

Individual assesses a person positively or negatively in all situations based on an existing general assessment of the person

Problems in Perception 

Projecting –

individual assumes that others share his or her values and beliefs

Stereotyping –

Individual has preconceived ideas about a group and assumes that all members of that group share the same characteristics

Attributions of Causality Attributions affected by perceptions of  Consistency  Consensus  Distinctiveness Internal attributions   

Personality Attitudes Abilities

External attributions   

Organizational resources Luck Uncontrollable influences

Attributions of Causality High Distinctiveness

Low High

Individual Behavior


Low High


Adapted from Exhibit 4-6 Attribution Theory


External Internal External Internal Internal External

Attributions of Success and Failure 

Fundamental attribution error –

Perception problem in which an individual is too likely to attribute the behavior of others to internal rather than external causes

Self-serving bias –

Perception problem in which an individual is too likely to attribute the failure of others to internal causes and the successes of others to external causes

Task Perception   

Perceptions of one’s job has important implications for behavior and outcomes Task perceptions have been linked to mood, intrinsic motivation and job performance Perceptions of tasks develop through subjective and sometimes idiosyncratic processes

Strategic Organizational Behavior  

– A process through which individuals change their  behavior based on positive or negative experiences  in a situation Positive consequence...

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