Organizational Behavior Course Notes – Mental Models


Class notes from my core MBA Organizational Behavior (OB) course. These focus on mental models.
  • Implicit personality theory: A mental model that relates various physical characteristics, personality traits, attitudes and behaviors. We infer traits based on other attributes. (ex. “The Halo Effect” – we associate physical attractiveness with competence/sociability/likeability)
  • Centrality Effect (Asch) – certain characteristics are central to your judgment about other people, and you tend to center on those attributes and ignore others. (ex. A friend mentions that someone else is a “cold” person, and you focus on that attribution even when they act differently.
  • Stereotype – A mental model that members of easily identifiable groups share characteristics or traits. (Stereotypes can make the world more “efficient” by allowing people to make assumptions, and thus decisions, without having to gather additional information. The issues are whether or not the stereotypes are correct, and how important the decision is. If a decision is critical/important, then one should gather enough information to make a decision without relying on stereotypes.)
  • Attribution Error – Assigning causality to actions or attributes; these can be external or internal factors.
  • Fundamental Attribution Error – A bias for people to attribute errors to internal factors. (ex. As a manager, we assume that a person who is not performing well is doing so due to internal/personal causes even though his or her behavior might be due to external/environmental factors.)

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