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Title:An Investigation of the Effects of Social Influence on Perceptions of Work Over Time
Author(s):Zalesny, Mary D.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Industrial
Abstract:New employees in an organization or job receive information about their jobs and the organization from many different sources. Their perceptions of the work and work environment may be influenced by the objective characteristics of the situation and by personal and social factors. Most work design and redesign however, usually involves the content of the work only and ignores much of the variability in employee reactions to their jobs arising from non-work factors.
Recent literature suggests that one important context factor is social influence. That is, information existing in the social environment is used by workers to form, verify or change their perceptions of and reactions to their work. The generalizability of the social influence research however, has been limited, in part, by the short duration of the experimental tasks and the prevalence of demand characteristics.
A long term design was used to assess the persistence of social influence in a simulated work environment. Subjects were trained in a task requiring use of fine manipulative skills through the use of a training film. Embedded in the film were statements which suggested that the trainer and others held a positive, negative or neutral opinion of the task. The effect and persistence of cues received in training were measured (1) over time in individual judgments about the work, and (2) in the transmission of cues across generations of subjects. Training given by one group of subjects to an incoming group of subjects was used to transmit social cues concerning the work from one generation to another.
Data were analyzed over time and across generations using repeated measures ANOVA. Results indicated that the social cues received in training had a significant although short-lived or highly specific effect on reported affect, perceptions of the task and behavioral intentions. Positive cues received in training, in general, resulted in more favorable perceptions of task identity and skill variety, and in the intention to consider doing the work again. Receipt of negative cues in training resulted in the lowest levels of satisfaction with the task throughout the study.
Time effects were evident for a number of variables including perceived task autonomy, significance, acquisition of new skills, opportunity for social interaction and satisfaction. Except for social interaction, ratings of task favorability declined over time. Generalizational effects were also evident with the first generation faring better than the second generation in terms of acquisition of new skills and satisfaction with the task.
The study found little support for a generalized and persistent effect of social cues on the perception of a task and affect toward the task over time. Experience with the task tended to attenuate initial group differences at least for those groups receiving positive and neutral cues.
Issue Date:1980
Description:154 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8108713
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-13
Date Deposited:1980

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