The Effects of Personality Similarity Between Supervisors and Subordinates on Job Satisfaction
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SHELL, M. M., & DUNCAN, S. D. (2000). The Effects of Personality Similarity Between Supervisors and Subordinates on Job Satisfaction. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 3. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved July 15, 2018
MANDY M. SHELL & SHEILA D. DUNCAN
MWSC DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY
Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
|This correlational study was designed to relate personality similarity of supervisors and subordinates to job satisfaction of subordinates. Studies have been done comparing certain personality characteristics to job satisfaction. In this study, the purpose was to examine the relationship of personality similarity between supervisor and subordinate, using the five factors of personality, and job satisfaction. The participants were 37 subordinates and their supervisors from various retail stores in St. Joseph, Missouri. Participants filled out the Job Satisfaction Survey and the Big Five Locator. Total personality difference scores for each supervisor-subordinate pair were figured from the Big Five Locator survey and were compared to the job satisfaction scores of the subordinate. A Pearson correlation coefficient was calculated for the relationship between the total personality difference scores and the total job satisfaction score. A moderate negative correlation was found (r(35) = -.343, p < .05), indicating a significant linear relationship between the two variables. Less total personality difference between supervisor and subordinate was moderately related to higher job satisfaction of the subordinate. |
INTRODUCTION Job satisfaction is an important topic in organizational research because of its many effects on the overall well-being of the organization. Satisfied employees create a more positive working environment for organizations. Because job satisfaction is important to organizations, it is beneficial to research the sources of job satisfaction. It has been shown that when supervisors` basic values are similar to those of their subordinates, job satisfaction can increase (Locke, 1976). Personality similarities between supervisors and subordinates have also been linked to job satisfaction (Rhodes & Hammer, 2000). Locke (1976) defined job satisfaction a positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experiences. Job satisfaction also has many effects. Higher job satisfaction is associated with a lower risk of turnover (Dickter, Roznowski, and Harrison, 1996). Locke (1976) points out that job satisfaction may have carry over effects to other parts of the employee’s life. It has been shown to influence a more positive attitude on life, towards family, and towards self. Job satisfaction has also been shown to help improve the employee’s physical health and actually lengthen their life span. Satisfied employees are also more likely to have good mental health and be better at making adjustments in their lives. Job satisfaction has many sources. Locke (1976) summarized the existing research on the causal factors in job satisfaction:"Among the most important values or conditions conducive to job satisfaction are: (1) mentally challenging work with which the individual can cope successfully; (2) personal interest in the work itself; (3) work which is not too physically tiring; (4) rewards for performance which are just, informative, and in line with the individual’s personal aspirations; (5) working conditions which are compatible with the individual’s physical needs and which facilitate the accomplishment of his work goals; (6) high self-esteem on the part of the employee; (7) agents in the workplace who help the employee to attain job values such as interesting work, pay, and promotions, whose basic values are similar to his own, and who minimize role conflict and ambiguity. (p.1328)" Personality has also been linked to job satisfaction, so it is important to have a valid and reliable measure of personality to study this relationship. The Big Five Locator is a useful tool for measuring personality (Howard, Medina, & Howard, 1996). This test provides a quick, general look at an adult’s personality. The administration and scoring of the Big Five Locator are simple and do not require specific training. The test usually only takes about two minutes to complete. The developers of this instrument did a field test of several items and chose the items that were found to be valid and reliable. The Big Five Locator tests for five general personality characteristics: 1) negative emotionality, 2) extraversion, 3) openness, 4) agreeableness, and 5) conscientiousness (Howard et al., 1996). Negative emotionality is sometimes referred to as neuroticism in academic or clinical uses, but the name has been changed on the Big Five Locator to fit into the business world. Negative emotionality deals with whether a person adjusts to an unpleasant situation or becomes emotionally unstable. It looks at a person’s ability to be rational, resist urges, and use positive coping. Extraversion is a preference for social and lively activity and a need for stimulation. Openness is an acceptance of new ideas, experiences, and approaches. Openness also shows an appreciation for experience. Agreeableness is the quality of personal interactions from compassion to antagonism. This is shown in thoughts, feelings, and actions. Conscientiousness is the degree of organization, persistence, and motivation toward goals that a person has. This measure shows if a person is dependable or spontaneous and unorganized. McCrae and Costa (1987) researched the validity of the five factors of personality by examining the correspondence between assessments of the five personality factors of peer ratings and self-reports. Adjective factors and questionnaires were used to make this comparison. Subjects answered questions about their own personality characteristics. Then their close peers answered the same questions about their view of their friend’s personality characteristics. Peers’ reports were compared to other peers’ reports and to the subjects’ self-reports. The research showed convergent and discriminant cross-observer and cross- instrument validation for all five factors. These researchers concluded that the five-factor model is a recurrent and basically comprehensive taxonomy of personality traits. Judge, Higgins, Thoresen, and Barrick (1999) compared personality factors to career success. They found that neuroticism (negative emotionality), extraversion, and conscientiousness have been most highly related to career success. Theory and evidence have suggested a negative relationship between neuroticism and job satisfaction, and a positive relationship has been implied between extraversion and job satisfaction. Career success had been said to be a combination of intrinsic success and extrinsic success (Judge et al., 1999). Intrinsic success is job satisfaction, and extrinsic success is income and occupational status. Judge et al. (1999) collected data from the Intergenerational Studies, which followed participants from early childhood to retirement. Personality was found to be related to career success. Conscientiousness positively predicted intrinsic and extrinsic success. Neuroticism negatively predicted extrinsic career success. Runyon (1973) related satisfaction with supervision to personality using the locus of control aspect of personality (internal and external personality types). Liebert and Spiegler (as cited in Rhodes & Hammer, 2000) defined internal locus of control as the belief that outcomes are the result of one’s own efforts, and external locus of control as the belief that outcomes are the result of luck, chance, or powerful people. He found that people with a majority of internal personality characteristics prefer participative management. People with a majority of external personality characteristics prefer a more directive management style. Runyon concluded that the personality of subordinates is an important factor in the relationship between supervisors and subordinates. Day and Bedeian (as cited in Rhodes & Hammer, 2000) stated that agreeableness is a reliable predictor of job satisfaction, and people with personality similarities have better relationships. Rhodes and Hammer (2000) measured the similarity of supervisors and subordinates using two aspects of personality: agreeableness and locus of control. They compared these similarities to job satisfaction. They found that job satisfaction tends to increase when agreeableness similarity between supervisor and subordinate increases. Locus of control similarity was not found to be a significant predictor of job satisfaction. Research has been done connecting certain aspects of personality to job satisfaction. Rhodes and Hammer (2000) looked at the similarity of two personality characteristics of supervisors and subordinates and linked those similarities to job satisfaction. The purpose of our study is to examine the relationship of personality similarity between supervisor and subordinate, using the five factors of personality, and job satisfaction. We predict that the more personality similarity between supervisor and subordinate, the higher the job satisfaction of the subordinate.
Participants were 37 subordinates and their supervisors at various retail stores in St. Joseph, Missouri.
Two surveys were needed for this study. One survey that was given to participants was the Job Satisfaction Survey (Spector, 1985). The other was the Big Five Locator (Howard et al., 1996). The Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) is a nine-subscale measure of employee job satisfaction. The nine subscales are: 1) pay; 2) promotion; 3) supervision; 4) benefits; 5) rewards/appreciation; 6) work conditions; 7) coworkers; 8) nature of work; 9) communication. A Total Satisfaction score was also computed. The survey consists of 36 statements to be rated by employees on a 6-point scale from “disagree very much” to “agree very much.” The Big Five Locator tests for five general personality characteristics: 1) negative emotionality, 2) extraversion, 3) openness, 4) agreeableness, and 5) conscientiousness (Howard et al., 1996). The format for the Big Five Locator uses adjective pairs that represent opposite ends of a single continuum (Howard et al., 1996). Each continuum is a measure of one of the five personality factors. A five-point scale is presented between the adjectives, and the respondents mark the spot on the continuum that best describes them.
We went to various retail stores in northwest Missouri and asked supervisors and subordinates to participate in our study. If they agreed, each supervisor and subordinate filled out both surveys: Big Five Locator and Job Satisfaction Survey. No names were put on any of the surveys. The surveys were coded to match supervisors and subordinates. All surveys were collected and scored. On the Big Five Locator, each of the five personality factors has a separate score. The difference between the subordinate’s score and the supervisor’s score was calculated for each factor. The absolute value of the differences for each factor was added to get the total personality difference score. These total personality differences were correlated with the scores of the subordinates on the Job Satisfaction Survey.
RESULTS A Pearson correlation coefficient was calculated for the relationship between the total personality difference scores and the total job satisfaction score. A moderate negative correlation was found (r(35) = -.343, p < .05), indicating a significant linear relationship between the two variables. Less total personality difference between supervisor and subordinate was moderately related to higher job satisfaction of the subordinate.
DISCUSSION Our hypothesis for this study was that the more personality similarity between supervisor and subordinate, the higher the job satisfaction of the subordinate. Although this study supported our hypothesis, the results only showed a moderate relationship between personality similarity and job satisfaction. We had expected a stronger correlation. The moderate correlation that we found may be a result of some limitations in our study. Some of our participants may have been part-time employees. It would make sense that full-time employees are probably affected more by their supervisors because they spend more time with them. Also, some employees may not have as much direct contact with their supervisors, which would most likely take away from the supervisor’s influence on the job satisfaction of the employee. In future research, it would be beneficial to do separate studies for part-time and full-time employees. It would also be a good idea to include questions on the surveys about how much time is actually spent with the supervisor during each work shift. Although the limitations of our study may have caused there to be only a moderate correlation, these same limitations may lend to the generalizability of the study because we used a variety of employees (part-time and full-time). We also had both male and female participants of various ages, which also increases the generalizability of our study. Other studies have been done linking personality and job satisfaction. Day and Bedeian (as cited in Rhodes & Hammer, 2000) stated that agreeableness is a reliable predictor of job satisfaction, and people with personality similarities have better relationships. Rhodes and Hammer (2000) found that job satisfaction tends to increase when agreeableness similarity between supervisor and subordinate increases. Our study showed that job satisfaction tends to increase when supervisors and subordinates are similar in total personality, using all five personality characteristics as measured by the Big Five Locator.
REFERENCES Dickter, D. N., Roznowski, M., & Harrison, D.A. (1996). Temporal tampering: An event history analysis of the process of voluntary turnover. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 705-716. Howard, P. J., Medina, P. L., & Howard, J. M. (1996) The big five locator: A quick assessment tool for consultants and trainers. In J.W. Pfeiffer (Ed.), The 1996 Annual: Vol. 1. Training. San Diego, CA: Pfeiffer and Company. Judge, T. A., Higgins, C. A., Thoresen, C. J., & Barrick, M. R. (1999). The big five personality traits, general mental ability, and career success across the life span. Personnel Psychology, 52, 621-649. Locke, E. A. (1976). The nature and causes of job satisfaction. In M. D. Dunnette (Ed.), Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (pp. 1297-1349). Chicago, IL: Rand McNally. McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T., Jr. (1987). Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 81-90. Rhodes, L.D., & Hammer, E.Y. (2000). The relation between job satisfaction and personality similarity in supervisors and subordinates. Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research, 5, 56-59. Runyon, K. E. (1973). Some interactions between personality variables and management styles. Journal of Applied Psychology, 57, 288-294.
Submitted 11/28/00 12:38:04 PM
Last Edited 11/30/00 11:05:35 AM
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