Morehead State University

Poster Title

The Influence of Implicit Theories of Personality on Behavior in Organizational Settings

Institution

Morehead State University

Abstract

Individuals hold implicit beliefs regarding achievement and intelligence, reflecting the degree to which they believe people can change. There are two types of implicit theories; an entity (fixed) view, where individuals believe people can’t change, and the opposing incremental (alterable) view, where individuals believe people can change. For example, someone with an entity perspective views intelligence as fixed; intelligence for these individuals is reflected by low effort successes. An incremental theorist perceives intelligence as more alterable; incrementalists focus on challenges to develop their intelligence. Implicit beliefs have a powerful influence on the decisions and actions of individuals. For example, managers with an entity view are more likely to judge employees from a first impression, and less likely to alter that impression based on subsequent behavior than managers with an incremental view. Additionally, entity holders are more comfortable doing tasks where they will succeed instead of seeking opportunities where they may fail, out of a fear of looking foolish. This contributes to performance apprehension and a reluctance to try challenging tasks, hindering performance. As indicated by these examples, there are profound consequences for subscribing to either behavior theory. Our research has identified consequences of these beliefs at individual, group, and organizational levels. We have conducted an in-depth literature review on implicit theories of personality and identified the consequences of these beliefs in organizational contexts. We present organizational implications based on our synthesis and integration of this literature, to facilitate more effective communication, reduce stereotypes, and increase willingness to help others.

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The Influence of Implicit Theories of Personality on Behavior in Organizational Settings

Individuals hold implicit beliefs regarding achievement and intelligence, reflecting the degree to which they believe people can change. There are two types of implicit theories; an entity (fixed) view, where individuals believe people can’t change, and the opposing incremental (alterable) view, where individuals believe people can change. For example, someone with an entity perspective views intelligence as fixed; intelligence for these individuals is reflected by low effort successes. An incremental theorist perceives intelligence as more alterable; incrementalists focus on challenges to develop their intelligence. Implicit beliefs have a powerful influence on the decisions and actions of individuals. For example, managers with an entity view are more likely to judge employees from a first impression, and less likely to alter that impression based on subsequent behavior than managers with an incremental view. Additionally, entity holders are more comfortable doing tasks where they will succeed instead of seeking opportunities where they may fail, out of a fear of looking foolish. This contributes to performance apprehension and a reluctance to try challenging tasks, hindering performance. As indicated by these examples, there are profound consequences for subscribing to either behavior theory. Our research has identified consequences of these beliefs at individual, group, and organizational levels. We have conducted an in-depth literature review on implicit theories of personality and identified the consequences of these beliefs in organizational contexts. We present organizational implications based on our synthesis and integration of this literature, to facilitate more effective communication, reduce stereotypes, and increase willingness to help others.