Socioanalytic Theory

I came across this while doing research on personality and work psychology and thought it was insightful.  I’ve copied the bits that I think are key but please visit this site for more information:

In our view, the most important generalization we can make about people is that they always live in groups, and that every group has a status hierarchy. Based on this, we can conclude that the big problems in life concern getting along with other people while attaining some status in one’s community, i.e., getting along and getting ahead. The rest of this viewpoint, called Socioanalytic Theory, can be summarized in terms of three broad points.

1. What do people really want? People want three things: (a) acceptance, respect, and approval; (b) status and the control of resources; (c) predictability. This very simple model of motivation tells us what bad managers do to de-motivate their subordinates. They treat their staff with disrespect. They micromanage their staff and take away their sense of control and autonomy. And they don’t communicate or provide feedback. These three practices violate the most important human needs, as forecast by our model of motivation.

2. What is personality? Personality should be defined from two perspectives. First, there is personality from the inside, which is called identity. This is the person you think you are and it is best defined by your hopes, dreams, aspirations, goals, and intentions — i.e., your values. Second, there is personality from the outside, which is called reputation. This is the person that others think you are and is best defined by the Five-Factor Model — i.e., in terms of self-confidence, sociability, integrity, charm, and creativity, or their opposites. There are often important disparities between a person’s identity and his/her reputation, and the size of the disparity is related to career success.

3. How to measure personality? It is important first to stipulate the agenda for personality assessment. In our view, the agenda concerns forecasting individual differences in a person’s potential for getting along and getting ahead. Next, we must decide which aspect of personality we want to measure. If we want to assess personality from the inside identity then we need a measure of values. And the optimal use of such an assessment is to evaluate how well a person will fit into the culture of a specific organization, as opposed to trying to predict occupational performance. If, however, we want to assess personality from the outside reputation then we should use observer ratings (e.g., a 360-degree feedback instrument). The optimal use of assessments of reputation is to forecast occupational performance, as opposed to trying to predict person/culture fit. If the foregoing distinctions are appropriately observed, personality and personality assessment will be indispensable tools for making decisions about people in organizations.


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