Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Purpose of Our Blog

The purpose of this blog is to discuss some of the individual factors that affect job performance.  In particular we look at the organizational behavior topics of ability, stress, and motivation.  We hope that you're able to learn something new about these organizational behavior topics by reading our blog.

Bryan Baines
Jake Harlick
Michael Kurtagh
Matyas Keresztes
Sonia Zafar

What Is Ability?

Jake Harlick
What is Ability?
                Ability is the capability a person has to complete different actions. These abilities can be either physical or mental (cognitive). Abilities differ from skills. Skills are things you can develop with practice. Getting bigger, faster, and stronger from physical training are skills that can be improved with a lot of hard work and perseverance. However, the ability to reach something high in the air is a physical ability that you cannot develop no matter how hard you work towards it.
                An organization needs to harness people’s abilities to their roles and job descriptions. People have different cognitive abilities. Some are very creative whereas others are very analytical. Companies need to recognize which employees have a creative knack and put them in brainstorming situations to come up with new innovative ideas for the company. Then take the analytical type employees and have them pick apart how different moves will affect the company. This can be done in all departments, creative finance people can find new ways to save money while analytical marketing people can analyze where the market is going and brainstorm with a creative marketing associate to make a campaign.
                Abilities can be exercised depending on what the particular ability is. For instance certain cognitive abilities such as remembering things can be exercised by repetition. “The exercise of such abilities is nothing less than the acquisition of knowledge” (Millar). The more knowledge a person absorbs the better their ability to recall important information during tasks will become. This is highly important in problem solving situations both creatively and analytically. All situations are met with different types of road blocks and if people are able to recall other situations and how they were solved to better solve the new problem, they’re ultimately more valuable to the company.
                Another important value in many industries is safety standards. A study done showed, “individuals with higher levels of cognitive ability were more likely to demonstrate higher safety behavior regardless of level of conscientiousness” (Robbins). This is important because even in jobs where physical ability is crucial, such as hard labor jobs. It is important to also test the cognitive ability of employees and applicants so that as an employer you know that your workers will be able to think through builds, and follow safe practice so that no other workers are hurt in the process. If a hard labor job was chosen only on physical ability and not on cognitive, many accidents would take place due to careless activity in the work zone. The last thing anyone wants to do is get knocked off a scaffold because of careless moving of equipment by another worker.
                The discussions of ability show that companies need to be aware of employees’ different abilities. Likewise employees need to recognize their own abilities and not necessarily put themselves in spots where they will not be successful and should rather be looking for opportunities where they can showcase their abilities. This ties back to value that we have talked about prior in class. If as an employee you strive to showcase your abilities in different areas you create value in yourself which makes the company not want to lose you. This opens up more doors for opportunity for advancement.
                Students can use this information in a couple of ways. First of all even though they may not have strengths in certain abilities it is always a good idea to be well rounded and try and develop some abilities even if they are only a small fraction, at least having the knowledge of those different abilities helps you move forward in your career. Additionally students like employees need to show off their abilities to prospective employers. If a student can exemplify their abilities to employers they stand a much higher chance of landing a job or internship to start their career.
Works Cited
Robbins, S., McKinniss, T., Postlethwaite, B., Rickerson, J. The moderation of conscientiousness by cognitive ability when predicting workplace safety behavior.
Millar, A. What is it that Cognitive Abilities are Abilities to Do?

Types of Physical Abilities

Written by Matyas Keresztes

Physical ability refers to the degree of a person's physical tolerance for different physical activities that a person might encounter personally, occupationally, and socially. Physical ability might be also defined as the ability that let people perform different kinds of physical tasks.

We have certainly been through many tests beginning from young age that were intended to measure our physical ability. In physical education classes, students are asked to run the Cooper test (CT) which is a 12 minute running test and it measures how far students can run within the assigned time period. Even in higher education, student-athletes are required to take vision and hearing tests before their season starts and if they don't pass the test they might be ineligible until the problems exist. Of course, it depends on what sports they pursue. Even though, these two examples seem to stand far from each other, both tests' goal is to measure different types of physical abilities. Strength, stamina, flexibility and coordination, psychomotor and sensory abilities are all important types of physical abilities.

Strength is the ability to generate force. There are three major types of strength. Static strength is measured by lifting, pulling, and pushing objects with shoulders, back, legs, arms and hands. Explosive strength is the ability to produce dynamic force rapidly with possibly maximum effort. This an example of a fast and short burst that occurs during a jump. Dynamic strength means applying power for a longer period of time such as doing exercises repeatedly. Strength is mostly important in jobs in the construction and agricultural industry.

Stamina, or endurance, is similar to dynamic strength as it is referred to a prolonged activity where a person's lungs and circulatory system are heavily used to allow the person to work efficiently. Heart rate and breathing frequency are increased in such activities where endurance is important. Stamina and strength often go together. They are exceptionally important for jobs like firefighters who need to pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) in order to get hired for the job.

Flexibility is the ability to bend, stretch, twist, and reach. There are two types of flexibility. One of them is the extent flexibility which refers to the range how far a person can reach, how much he can bend, stretch or twist. The other type is the dynamic flexibility which refers to repeated bends, stretches, reaches, and twists. Coordination is the ability to keep the body parts synchronized with the body while in motion. When I talk about flexibility and coordination, the first job that comes to my mind and requires these to abilities to be close to perfect is artists who work in circuses.

Psychomotor abilities refer to effectively controlling and manipulating objects. There are many examples of these abilities. Arm-hand steadiness is the ability to keep arms and hands steady while moving arms. Surgeons have to have arm-hand steadiness otherwise they wouldn't be able to perform an operation safely on their patients Control precision includes precisely controlling machines to get the job done, many times repeatedly. Pilots and drivers are great examples of who this ability is important to. Finally, response orientation involves making a quick and a right choice in response to two or more signals. Response orientation is strongly connected with reaction time which measures how quick the response was to a signal. Drivers are again great examples as they encounter unexpected situations on the road which they need to quickly response to and they need to make the best possible choice, otherwise, serious accidents can happen.

Sensory abilities are the last major type of physical abilities. They are abilities that influence visual and auditory perception. Visual abilities include near and far vision (seeing objects from a close range or a distance), night vision (seeing objects in low light conditions), visual color discrimination (detecting differences between colors such as brightness), and depth perception (the ability to judge the distance between a person and an object or to determine which one of the objects is closer or farther). On the other hand, auditory abilities include auditory attention ( to focus on a single sound while other distracting sounds can be heard at the same time), speech recognition ( to recognize the person who is speaking) and hearing sensitivity (to be able to tell the difference in pitch and loudness.)


Hanman, Bert. The Evaluation of Physical Ability. The New England Journal of Medicine. May 1958.

Sheaff, Andrew K; Bennett, Angela ; Hanson, Erik D; Kim, You-Sin ; Hsu, Jeffrey ; Shim, Jae K ; Edwards, Steven T ; Hurley, Ben F. Physiological Determinants of the Candidate Physical Ability Test in Firefighters. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 24(11):3112-3122, November 2010.
Kiner, Ann M.; Ramsey, Michael W. ; O'Bryant, Harold S.; Ayres, Christopher A. 1; Sands, William A. ; Stone, Michael H. Vibration and Stretching Effects on Flexibility and Explosive Strength in Young Gymnasts. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 40(1):133-140, January 2008.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Find Employees with High Cognitive Ability

How to Find Employees with High Cognitive Ability

Written by: Sonia Zafar

In today’s competitive world, it is hard to filter through candidates in order to find those who have high cognitive ability. There are many ways employers can find competent employees. The reason why cognitive ability is important is because there is a strong relationship between ability and job performance. Cognitive ability has a strong positive effect on job performance in careers that require more complex tasks than the average job. Although cognitive ability has a strong connection to job performance, it has no effect on job commitment. Just because one employee has higher cognitive ability than another, does not necessarily mean that he or she is more committed to their job.

Wonderlic Personal Test
This test is made up of 50 questions and takes roughly 12 minutes to complete. It tests the general cognitive ability of prospective employees. For each question answered correctly, a person receives one point. Those points are summed up and then the total score is used as a basis for employers to select people for various jobs. According to the Wonderlic Scores, the minimum score for an unskilled laborer is 17, and the scores for an upper level career are in the high 20’s range. For example, the minimum score for an executive is 28 and for a machine operator it is 18. This test is also taken into consideration when drafting college players in the NFL. The NCAA also uses this this test; The Pacific 10 Conference and Stanford have football players on their teams that scored above average intelligence. Stanford had an average score of 28.8, which is equivalent to the score of chemists and engineers. After Stanford, the top 4 scoring teams are:
  1. Purdue (25.3) 
  2. Brigham Young (25.2)
  3. California (25.2) 
  4.   UCLA (24) 
(Loumena, 2005).

Social Media
One of the best ways for employers to recruit good candidates for job openings is social media. LinkedIn is one of the most popular job related social networking websites. Devin Blanks, who is a recruiter at DB Search Group in Minneapolis, believes that LinkedIn is a great way to search for candidates who have the cognitive ability and skills for the job. His staff uses LinkedIn to connect with many “hard to find” professionals. Blanks stated:

Most recently, we wanted to fill a Senior Director of HR position. As this position was more complex than usual and called for a very specific skill set, I used two different approaches to using LinkedIn. First, we posted the position, and second, we viewed potential candidates through second and third party connections via my immediate contacts and requesting an introduction. I got great response, met with a few candidates, and filled the position with a LinkedIn member” (Heathfield, 2013).

LinkedIn lets individuals post their resumes online, and connect with coworkers/classmates and potential employers. It is a great way to network and it makes it much easier for employers to contact candidates for interviews by looking at their profile online.

Internal Referral

Many employers today hire based on word of mouth. If a trusted employee refers someone for an available position, that candidate’s resume will stand out and be separated from the rest. Riju Parakh was recommended by a friend at Ernst & Young for a competitive position in the company. For large companies like Ernst & Young, it is much more efficient to hire internally than to go out and look for candidates. Employee recommendations now account for 45 percent of upper level career placements at the firm, which is an astounding number (Schwartz, 2013).  Larry Nash, director of experienced and executive recruiting says, “the company looks at every resume submitted but a referral puts them in the express lane” (Schwartz, 2013). 

Heathfield, S. (2013). Use linkedin for recruiting employees. Retrieved from

Loumena, D. (2005, October 02). pacific 10 makes grade.Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from

Schwartz, N. D. (2013, January 27). In hiring, a friend in need is a prospect, indeed. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Cognitive Ability

Written By Michael Kurtagh
Cognitive Ability:
            Ability is an extremely important individual factor of job performance.  Ability is the capability that people have to perform a certain activity.  While abilities can be honed and developed, they are partially genetic and can act as limiting factors to personal growth.  Ability can be broken down into three main categories; cognitive, physical and emotional.  This post will be focusing on cognitive ability.  Cognitive ability deals with the act of acquiring and using knowledge in order to solve issues. While all three major ability categories are applicable to all jobs, cognitive ability is definitely an asset for any occupation.  One article stated that “There are no jobs for which cognitive ability does not predict training success." (Oakes, Ferris, Martocchio, Buckley & Broach, 2001) Cognitive ability is broken down into five ability subsets which are verbal, quantitative, reasoning, spatial and perceptual. Everyone possesses different amounts of these abilities and understanding which ones are strengths can help a person find a job that takes advantage of those strengths.

Verbal Ability:
            Verbal ability encompasses the various things associated with the understanding and expressing of communication. Although called verbal ability, it includes both written and oral communication.  The distinction between oral and written communication is important because many people possess high ability in one while are weak in the other.  While almost every job requires at least some verbal ability, there are certainly some occupations that require more.  Jobs like being a therapist or psychologist require you to effectively express yourself to your patient while understanding them.  Also most management or executive jobs require you to delegate work to employees working under you requiring you to communicate directions to them. A manager or executive lacking verbal ability may find a great deal of difficulty functioning in their role if they cannot effectively communicate with their workers.     

Quantitative Ability:
            Quantitative ability deals with mathematical ability.  It includes number facility, which is the ability to do basic math functions like adding and subtracting, and mathematical reasoning, which is the ability to choose and apply formulas in the solving of number related issues.  Unlike verbal ability, many occupations don’t require a great deal of quantitative ability.  This is especially true for mathematical reasoning since many jobs don’t require the application of mathematical formulas.  Some jobs though, like those that require statistics or accounting, rely heavily on quantitative ability.  Knowing your level of quantitative ability is extremely important if you’re seeking out jobs that use it.  It’s also very important for people hiring for those positions to know applicants levels of quantitative ability. 

Reasoning Ability:
            Reasoning ability is the ability to sense and solve problems using insight, rules, and logic.  It can be further broken down into problem sensitivity, deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning and originality.  Problem sensitivity is the ability to sense and foresee problems that may occur.  This is an incredibly valuable skill for those jobs where an unexpected problem can be disastrous.  Deductive reasoning is the ability to use general rules to solve problems.  This is a useful ability for any job, although those jobs that require the employee to make a decision based on a set of facts, like a doctor diagnosing a patient, would find deductive reasoning very useful.  Inductive reasoning is when you look for the connection between a set of facts.  Occupations like a police detective rely heavily on inductive reasoning.  Finally, originality is the ability to develop new and clever ways to solve problems.  Jobs that require creativity, like writing or advertising, benefit greatly from originality.      

Spatial Ability:
            Spatial ability involves the visualization and understanding of an object in space.  One type of spatial ability is spatial orientation which is having a good understanding of where one is relative to other things in an environment.  This would be a very useful ability for people who those who operate large vehicles like boats and planes.  The other type of spatial ability is visualization.  Visualization is the ability to imagine how separate things would look if rearranged together.  Visualization can be useful for an occupation like interior designer where they have to visualize how a room would look.

Perceptual Ability: 
            Perceptual ability is the ability to perceive, understand, and recall patterns of information.  Speed and flexibility of closure is one type of perceptual ability which specifically deals with how quickly a person can sort out a pattern of information in the presence of distracting information.  Police officers and other occupations that require the piecing together of information in a timely manner can greatly benefit from this ability.  Another form of perceptual ability is perceptual speed.  This refers to being able to quickly examine and compare numbers, letters and objects.  Jobs that require the sorting of things or proofreading can benefit from perceptual speed.

General Cognitive Ability:
            Research over the years has suggested that some people rate very equally across the five major cognitive ability categories.  The belief behind this is that people possess general cognitive ability which is referred to as the general factor, or g-factor.  A high g-factor means that a person may score relatively high across the board of the five cognitive ability categories.  Basically it’s the belief that “people who have high scores in mathematical ability would score high in a language test as well.” (Solanki) This g-factor is linked to IQ, suggesting that a higher IQ produces a higher g-factor and therefore higher scores in all five categories of cognitive ability.      

            Cognitive ability is an important concept to understand when discussing job performance.  It encompasses many of the skills required for many occupations and knowledge of it is beneficial to both employees and managers.  An employee or prospective employee that understands cognitive ability can first assess their own cognitive strengths and then either find tasks that are supported by those strengths or search for employment that is tailored to those strengths.  It’s also helpful to know which areas of cognitive ability that you struggle with so that you can either work to improve them or find tasks or employment that don’t have an emphasis on those areas.  A manager can benefit a great deal from knowing cognitive ability by finding better employees and then doing a better job of matching those employees to tasks.  They can find better employees by including tasks in the interview process that measure areas of cognitive ability.  Managers can then better match employees with tasks by taking heed of their cognitive strengths.  Lacking the cognitive ability necessary for a task isn’t the only potential issue, as having excess ability for a given task because “they are more likely to feel bored on the job and will thus be harder to retain.” (Philips, 2008) While ability in general is an important topic when trying to understand individual factors that affect job performance, cognitive ability in particular is important.      


Oakes, D. W., Ferris, G. R., Martocchio, J. J., Buckley, M. R., & Broach, D. (n.d.). Cognitive ability and personality predictors of training program skill acquisition and job performance. (2001). Journal of Business and Psychology, 15(4), 523-548. Retrieved from Retrieved from JSTOR.

Philips, J. M. (n.d.). The role of excess cognitive capacity in the relationship between job characteristics and cognitive task engagement. (2008). Journal of Business and Psychology, 23(1/2), 11-24. Retrieved from JSTOR.

Solanki, P. (n.d.). The general intelligence factor. Retrieved from

Equity Theory

Written By Michael Kurtagh
Equity Theory:
Motivation is one of the major individual influencers on job performance, and one of its major theories is equity theory which this blog post will discuss.  Equity theory states that a person’s motivation isn’t solely based on personal beliefs and circumstances, but also what happens to others.  Basically equity theory is saying that a person’s motivation is affected by whether or not they feel they are being treated fairly relative to their peers.  Akan, Allen & White state that “this sense of fairness is determined by one’s rewards (e.g., pay, promotions) relative to one’s work-related inputs (e.g., education, productivity, experience) as compared with a referent other’s rewards relative to that person’s work-related inputs.” (2008)  Equity theory has three possible outcomes when the person compares themselves to their colleagues.  These outcomes are either they feel they are being rewarded equally, more, or less for their work.  Another important aspect of equity theory is that the perception of equity or inequity is just as important as the actual truth of the situation.     

Equal to Your Peers:
This is the best possible outcome of equity theory.  This is when you and the other employees you’re comparing yourself to are receiving relatively equal rewards for the same amount of work.  The perception is that you’re not being treated any better or worse than your colleagues.  As a result, there’s really no need to change anything as there is a sense of equity. 

Rewarded More Than Peers:
            In this situation the person perceives that they are being rewarded more than their colleagues for equal amounts of work.  For example, if a team of employees successfully complete a project while doing equal work and one of the team members is given a bigger bonus than the rest, they have overreward inequity.  For many people this seems like it would be a good thing, receiving rewards beyond what is expected relative to others.  The problem though is that inequity in either direction can be detrimental to an employee.  Research shows that “those who are overpaid should be more productive but still less satisfied than equitably paid workers.”   (Livingstone, Roberts & Chonko, 1995) While they may enjoy the extra benefits they gained for their work, the fact that there is inequity means they will feel separated from their peers.  This can put stress on the person by making them feel anxiety or guilt.  A worker can attempt to restore equity without giving up their extra rewards by putting more effort and time into their work.  This can help them to perceive that the extra rewards that they are receiving are a result of the extra work they are putting in.     

Rewarded Less Than Peers:
            This is probably the most demotivating of the three equity theory outcomes.  If a worker feels that they receive less than their colleagues for equal amounts of work they have very little motivation to work hard.  One option to remedy the feeling of inequity is to put in less work so that the lesser rewards seem fair.  This of course is a negative option for the organization because they have a worker that is deliberately putting in less than their best effort.  The better solution is that the person who feels they are being treated less fairly than their colleagues speaks with management.  It is important for managers to understand that whether or not inequity actually exists, if the person perceives it as existing there will be affects.  Hopefully by speaking with management, the person will either have their rewards increased or realize they wrongly perceived inequity thereby restoring their feeling of equity.   

Perception vs. Reality:
            Understanding that just the perception of inequity can cause problems in an organization is very important.  While there may be a valid reason for one employee to be receiving more for relatively equally amounts of work, if that reason isn’t known by others they may perceive inequity.  While a manager may not want to reveal all the information behind their decision making process when handling compensation and rewards, they should make an effort to not make it so vague that it allows for the perception of inequity.    

            Understanding the equity theory of motivation is important for any organization.  Because of its powerful effect on job performance, managers should make an effort to promote a feeling of equity throughout the workplace.  As mentioned earlier, even the perception of inequity can cause issues so even the appearance of unequal treatment is a problem.  One of the most important steps in promoting equity is “to tie the rewards to employee performance.” (Baxamusa, 2012)  By clearly linking rewards to worker inputs, managers can not only insure they are fairly distributing rewards, they also provide employees with their thought process.  If employees understand the manager’s thought process, perceptual inequity can be avoided.  Overall, equity theory is an important facet of employee motivation and it is a major influence on job performance. 

Akan, O., Allen, R., & White, C. (n.d.). Equity sensitivity and organizational citizenship behavior in a team environment. (2009). Small Group Research,40(1), 94-112. Retrieved from Sage Journals.

Baxamusa, B. N. (2012). Equity theory of motivation. Retrieved from

Livingstone, L. P., Roberts, J. A., & Chonko, L. B. (n.d.). Perceptions of internal and external equity as predictors of outside salespeoples. (1995). The Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 15(2), 33-46. Retrieved from JSTOR.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Emotional Ability

Written By: Bryan Baines

How many times have you or someone you know let their emotions go? Whether it was anger, sadness, joy, or anything else, everyone has experienced emotions. Emotions play a part in how we go about our daily lives. Yet if we acted solely on our emotions to determine our actions, we wouldn’t be making the best decisions. By looking at our emotions and learning how to understand and utilize them, we can improve our social aspect of our life – whether it’s in the workplace or outside the office.
            Emotional intelligence is different than cognitive intelligence such that emotional intelligence affects social functioning. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and control your emotions. Someone who could be very smart and have a high IQ, but could be very socially awkward. This person would be described as someone who has acute cognitive ability, but weak emotional ability. According to the ability model of emotional intelligence, EI consists of perceiving emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and managing emotions. Perceiving emotions is how we understand others’ expressions and tones, including our own. Using emotions is how we utilize them to best perform the job, assignment, or obligation we have. Understanding an emotion is how we comprehend different emotions we come across. Finally, managing emotions is how we can best utilize the emotions we experience. This core understanding will help shape our abilities with emotions.
            A type of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. According to the textbook, self-awareness refers to “the ability of an individual to understand the types of emotions he or she is experiencing, the willingness to acknowledge them, and the capability to express them naturally.” This can be simplified to being aware of your emotions and how they will impact yourself and other people. Self-awareness is one of the best ways to understand one’s self. Self-awareness can be synonymous with conscientiousness. When you realize who you are and what you can do, you can begin to responsibly undertake tasks. You’ll know what you can do, what the scope of your skills are, and what you are willing to accept help on.
In addition to self-awareness, there is a form known as other awareness. This is our ability to recognize and understand emotions expressed by other people. This is an important ability to possess in the workplace, especially if working in the service industry or you meet with clients frequently. Being able to ‘read’ a client or patient is essential to provide the best form of service because you are able to understand that person and know what they are looking for. Other awareness is also important in your own office. To even have a simple conversation with a coworker you utilize other awareness, even if you are doing it subconsciously.
            The third aspect to emotional intelligence is emotion regulation. This is the ability to recover from emotional experiences quickly. If, for example, you were walking home listening to music and somebody on a bicycle bumped you and got mad at you and shouted at you.  If you can regulate your emotions, you can recover from that experience quickly, continue walking home, and not let it ruin your day. If you couldn’t regulate your emotions properly, you might chase the cyclist down or throw something at him, and trouble would happen. In a workplace setting, if you received news at work – like a pay raise, pay cut, new assignments, etc – you need to be able to control your reactions to the news and recover your emotions to not inhibit your work.
            The fourth facet of emotional intelligence is the use of emotions. Basically, it’s how people express their emotions for what they are trying to accomplish. So you can recognize emotions and regulate emotions, but do you know how to use them? Come finals week, everyone is scrambling to prepare for finals and finish projects, but lot of people have trouble even beginning to study or write a paper. I, myself, am relatively low in this aspect of emotional intelligence, seeing how it took me quite a while to even begin writing this blog post.
            By understanding emotional intelligence, one will be able to successfully apply it to his or her workplace. Emotional intelligence plays a major role in nearly every aspect at work, whether we realize it or not. When we are given a mundane task to perform, we utilize emotion regulation to compose ourselves. We then apply the use of emotions to be able to start the project. Awareness is crucial to being successful in the social aspect of business. Whether it is meeting with clients, having a staff meeting, or simply socializing in the workplace, we need to be able to read the other person’s emotions and adjust our own appropriately. Someone in sales needs to have high ability in the aspects of both self-awareness and other awareness alike. Can you imagine a socially awkward individual trying to close a big deal with executives? It probably wouldn’t happen.


Copestake, S., Gray, N. S., & Snowden, R. J. (2013). Emotional intelligence and psychopathy: A comparison of trait and ability measures. Emotion, doi:

Farh, C. I. C. C., Seo, M., & Tesluk, P. E. (2012). Emotional intelligence, teamwork effectiveness, and job performance: The moderating role of job context. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(4), 890-900. doi:

Shellenbarger, S. (2012, August 15). Dealing With a Boss Who Yells - Retrieved April 14, 2013, from

Monday, April 8, 2013

Social Support and Stress

      A clear definition of what social support is has not been developed. The definition is more complex and connects different studies from many theorists. The first study of social support was conducted in the 1970's. However, supportive behavior was already examined in a study as early as 1942. No matter what theory we look at, social support always includes relationships and interactions among people. 

      There are six dynamics developed by Weiss to help us better understand the concept. The first dynamic is “attachment or sense of emotional closeness” and is provided by partners in life such as husbands/wives or lovers might be here as well. The second one is “social integration or a sense of belonging to a group of people with common interests”. This dynamic, of course, describe the group of friends people belong to. The thrid one is “reassurance of worth or the acknowledgment of one's competence and skills” and is given by coworkers. The fourth one is “reliable alliance or self-assurance that one can count on others for assistance under any circumstances”. Family members account for this dynamic. The fifth one is “guidance, advice, and information”. Teachers, any kind of mentors, and also parents can be listed as providers for this dynamic. Finally, children give “Nurturance or the sense of responsibility for the well-being of another”. Kahn later looked into the key components of supportive transactions and said they should include at least three elements. These three were affect (positive feelings), affirmation, and aid (symbolic or material). 

       There are four types of social support. Emotional support consists of feelings of love and trust. (Emotional socializing) Best example is when people can openly communicate and show their concerns for one another. Instrumental support consists of intangible assets/resources such as giving money for someone or helping someone finishing his or her job. (Material aid) Informational support is providing information to someone. (Guidance) Appraisal support is providing detailed feedback. (Communication of expectations). The majority of the studies, however, focus only on the two major type of support; emotional support and instrumental support. 

       Every type of social support can be applied successfully depending on the situation. In case of people who just got fired or lost one of their relatives, emotional support is the best tool someone can use to help the given person to get through rough times. Instrumental support can be provided by coworkers to help each other out at the workplace so they get the job done faster or with the intend to decrease one' heavy workload. Tourists who visit a city where they have never been need informational support. Engineers who assemble a car for the first time want to hear feedback from test drivers what should be modified on the concept. 

      There is a significant, negative relationship between stress and social support. Low level of social support will lead to high lever of stress and it is also associated with problematic behavior mainly in the early stage of life and lower life satisfaction later. High level of social support, on the other hand, helps people to manage stressful situations and to cope with stressors thus reducing their harmful effects.


Prag, Patrick W. “Stress, Burnout, and Social Support: A Review and Call for Research.” Air Medical Journal. Volume 22. Issue 5. September–October 2003. Pages 18-22.

Baqutayan, Shadiya. "Stress and social support." Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine Jan.-June 2011: 29. Health Reference Center Academic.

Christine, Kerres Malecki, and Kilpatrick Demaray Michelle. "What Type of Support do they Need? Investigating Student Adjustment as Related to Emotional, Informational, Appraisal, and Instrumental Support." School Psychology Quarterly 18.3 (2003): 231-52.

Matyas Keresztes