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Researched Argument Assignment Satisfaction

Persuasive Speech Assignment

In CORE 102, you completed the Approaches to Oral Argument assignment and delivered an Informative Speech. Now in CORE 201 you will continue developing your oral communication skills by preparing and delivering a Persuasive Speech. In the course of this latest project, you will:

  • construct a discussion that positions a variety of sources according to the sources’ viewpoints on a particular topic;
  • use language that enhances the message of the presentation;
  • use nonverbal communication in a way that enhances a message in a speech; and
  • respond substantially to objections.

Before you begin working on this latest assignment, take the time to review the basic elements of a good speech by reading the material under the Approaches to Oral Argument and the Informative Speech assignments in the CORE 102 section of the Handbook.

This section of the Handbook will provide answers to the following questions:

  1. What is a persuasive speech?
  2. How do I use an audience’s beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors to shape the purpose of my speech?
  3. How is a persuasive speech different from an informative speech?
  4. How is persuasion different from manipulation?
  5. How do I word a claim?
  6. How do I use others’ arguments in the context of a claim?
  7. How do I use language to enhance a presentation?
  8. How do I structure my persuasive speech?
  9. How do I cite my sources to enhance my credibility and help the audience understand my presentation?
  10. How can I use nonverbal communication to enhance my message?
  11. How do I create an effective visual aid?
  12. How do I integrate my visual aids into my presentation without being distracting?
  13. How do I cite images correctly on the visual aid?

1. What is a persuasive speech?

A persuasive speech is designed to influence an audience’s beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors.

  • Belief: a statement of something that is held to be true about the world.

Examples: “Movies are more violent than they used to be” and “A lot of trash that could be recycled gets thrown away instead.”

While many beliefs, such as “The Earth revolves around the sun,” are noncontroversial, others are open to debate and need to be supported by evidence.

  • Attitude: an evaluation of what is good or bad

Examples: “Movies should be less violent” and “People need to recycle more.”

  • Behavior: what people actually do

Examples: refusing to watch violent movies and recycling instead of throwing everything away.

2. How do I use an audience’s beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors to shape the purpose of my speech?

The Approaches to Oral Argument assignment asked you to consider the question “How do I identify the purpose of a speech?” At that point you were interested in identifying the purpose of someone else’s speech. Now you need to think about the purpose of your own speech. An important part of that process is figuring out whether you want to influence audience members’ beliefs or attitudes or behaviors.

  • If you are giving a speech on recycling and your audience doesn’t know that relatively little material is being recycled, you might need to focus on changing their beliefs.
  • If your audience recognizes that relatively little material is being recycled but does not consider the low recycling rate to be a problem, you might need to focus on changing their attitudes.
  • If your audience knows that little recycling is taking place and thinks that the low rate is a problem, but they themselves do not recycle, then the goal of your speech becomes to convince your audience to act on their beliefs and attitudes by recycling.

3. How is a persuasive speech different from an informative speech?

When you give an informative speech, your goal is to teach your audience more about your topic. For your persuasive speech, you still will be presenting information to your audience, but instead of informing being the primary goal, you’ll be using that information to support an argument that will result in a change to audience members’ beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors. No matter how interesting and well-delivered your speech is, if you have only provided your audience with information and have not convinced them to accept an argument and to change their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, then you have not fulfilled the purpose of your speech.

See also the answer to the question What is the difference between an informative speech and a persuasive speech? under the Informative Speech assignment in Core 102.

4. How is persuasion different from manipulation?

Manipulation involves the use of inaccurate or irrelevant evidence or fallacious reasoning in order to win over an audience. Persuasion, on the other hand, is based on critical thinking. In order to persuade an audience, the speaker or writer uses evidence that is accurate and relevant to her argument and reasoning that is free of logical fallacies. The resulting argument will be consistent with the lessons of the Argument Analysis assignment, which encouraged logical thinking and discouraged propaganda, bias, and reliance upon fallacies.

It is true that sometimes manipulation can convince audience members and gain a speaker an advantage. In fact, it is worth studying common logical fallacies because members of your audience may have fallen for them and you may need to counter them as part of your own argument. However, do not study fallacies in order to use them yourself. Even though people may be swayed by fallacies, rely upon honest persuasion instead of manipulation for two very good reasons: first, manipulating an audience is unethical; second, manipulation may backfire in the long run. You might win over some audience members with manipulation. Eventually, however, audience members may see through the trick, and if they realize that you are trying to manipulate them, they will no longer be receptive to your message. You will have damaged your ethos and forfeited your audience’s trust.

5. How do I word a claim?

A claim is what you want your audience to believe or agree with. A claim should be stated in a full, declarative sentence, and should not be stated in the form of a question.

Examples of incorrectly worded claims:

  • Recycling Benefits.
  • Should you recycle?

Example of a correctly worded claim:

Additional examples of correctly worded claims:

  • Media networks are biased.
  • Fast food does not contribute to obesity.
  • Global warming is not the cause of our erratic weather patterns.

More information on claims is available under the Academic Argument assignment in CORE 101 under these questions:

6. How do I use others’ arguments in the context of a claim?

Once you have settled upon a claim and worded it appropriately, you must back it up with evidence and with the well-supported opinions of others. Such evidence and opinions should come from the research and work of speakers and writers who can lay claim to high ethos.

Be certain to locate and consider sources that both agree and disagree with your claim. Looking at a range of opinions is important for two reasons.

First, you must keep an open mind and be willing to modify or even abandon a claim if evidence and reason cast it into doubt. If you lack such willingness, you may be caught up in one of the biases or fallacies covered under the Researched Argument assignment. See especially the answer to the question What is confirmation bias?

Second, your ethos is at stake. You need to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the range of arguments in order to demonstrate that you are well-informed, open-minded, and fair. Failing to acknowledge other arguments would damage your credibility and make you appear biased. For that reason, include counterarguments in your speech or paper. Counterarguments show that you are familiar with the opposition but that you are able to explain why you reject reasoning and evidence that may, on the surface, seem to challenge your claim.

7. How do I use language to enhance a presentation?

As a speaker, you must carefully choose not only your content, but also your words in order to make full use of ethos, pathos, and logos.

  • Choose words that the listeners can understand. Do not use jargon if the audience is made up of non-specialists, but find ways to simplify and organize complex information using vocabulary they would find familiar.
  • Choose or create examples that the audience would find relatable.
  • Find the word that most closely matches your intended sentiment or idea. English has an immense vocabulary for you to choose from.
  • Keep in mind that the words you choose have implied meanings beyond the dictionary definitions. Select words that carry desired ‘baggage’ and avoid words with undesirable associations.
  • Avoid inflammatory language.
  • Verbally cite all ideas and information from sources that you paraphrase, summarize, or quote.

See also the answer to this question under the Argument Analysis assignment: How do effective communicators choose language for their arguments? See the Core 201 Appendix for more information regarding the following questions.

8. How do I structure my persuasive speech?

One of the most commonly used ways to organize a persuasive speech is Monroe’s Motivated Sequence: attention, need, satisfaction, visualization, and action. It is based upon the idea that when confronted with a problem or desire, people will change their values or behavior to achieve balance (Monroe & Ehninger, 1969, p. 42). You have most likely seen Monroe’s Motivated Sequence in action before. In fact, almost every infomercial follows this basic format trying to persuade you to buy their product.

First, grab the audience’s attention. Some of the ways you might do this are by arousing their curiosity, citing a startling statistic, telling a dramatic story, or sharing a powerful quotation.

Now that you have their attention, you must convince them that there is a significant problem or need that must be addressed. Provide supporting evidence to increase your credibility. It is also important to make a connection with the audience and convince them they should care about your topic. One of the best ways to do this is by showing how they have or could be personally impacted.

The satisfaction step is when you propose a clear solution to the problem. You need to persuade your audience that your solution is the best alternative. Do you have examples where a similar solution has worked in the past? Are there experts or research that support your proposed solution? Know what the likely counterarguments will be and include rebuttals as part of your speech.

The visualization step helps the audience imagine what will happen next. Adopting your proposed solution will have positive impacts, while failure to take action will lead to negative consequences.

Finally, make a call to action. What do you want your audience to do, think, or believe as a result of your argument? Ensure that your action plan is feasible for the audience. For example, asking the average college student to buy an electric car to reduce America’s dependency on foreign oil is not realistic. However, riding Radford Transit to buy groceries is.

For a review of organizational patterns and the necessary parts of a speech, see the answers to these questions under the Informative Speech assignment in CORE 102:

9. How do I cite my sources to enhance my credibility and help the audience understand my presentation?

As in a paper, in a speech it is important to tell the audience where your information and ideas come from. Citing sources, both in speech and in writing, improves your credibility and helps you avoid plagiarism. Any time you use any information that isn’t commonly known, you need to credit sources. You need to do so whether you paraphrasing, summarizing, or quoting.

In papers, sources are credited using APA or another citation style that makes it easy to provide source information without disrupting the flow of writing. In speeches, sources likewise can be credited without doing damage to the flow of the argument. If you verbally cited all of the information that you would include in an in-text citation (or in a list of references), you would never get around to actually making your argument. However, you only need to provide enough information to demonstrate that you are using credible sources in support of your argument. Below are two examples that would communicate to an audience that your argument is supported by scholarly research.

Samuel Jones, a biologist from the University of Texas, did a study showing that frogs are negatively affected by water pollution.

  • Source with multiple authors:

A team of biologists from several major universities did a study showing that frogs are negatively affected by water pollution.

These verbal citations are the spoken equivalents of attributions, which are phrases used in writing to signal that you are using a source. For more information, see the answer to this question under the Approaches to Written Argument assignment in the CORE 101 section of the Handbook: How does an author signal that she is using a source?

10. How can I use nonverbal communication to enhance my message?

Being conscious of the verbal messages you are trying to communicate is only one part of being an effective speaker. You practice saying the words in your speech; you must likewise pay attention to the nonverbal cues you furnish an audience via your delivery.

Aim for an appropriate rate or speed of delivery so that your audience can understand your message but you do not appear rushed or drawn out. Add pauses or breaks in your speech to provide emphasis or allow your audience to process a message. Be aware of your posture, hand gestures, and body movements. You want to appear energetic and engaged but not so much that you become a distraction. Maintain eye contact with your audience. Make it a point to scan each section of the room during your speech. Finally, match your facial expressions to your message. You don’t want to be smiling when you are talking about something tragic. Remember that these nonverbal cues are sending a message to the audience.

For more information about nonverbal communication, see these sections under the CORE 102 Approaches to Oral Argument assignment:

You will also find answers to the these questions in the CORE 201 Appendix:

11. How do I create an effective visual aid?

When giving a presentation, your visual aids should be used to visually supplement or enhance your message rather than summarize information (like you might see for lecture notes). Think of them as billboards on the side of the interstate. They need to grab the audience’s attention and very quickly convey a message. If you include too much information, most of the message will be lost as people speed by. If the billboard is too distracting, it will create a traffic hazard taking drivers’ attention from the road. Here are a few helpful hints to create better visual aids. These relate mostly to PowerPoint but can be used for any type of presentation aid.

Start with a blank canvas. If you’ve seen a lot of slide show presentations, you immediately recognize most of the common themes or layouts. Even unique designs become boring after a few slides. The reaction from your audience is “ho-hum” or “here we go again.” You should decide what visuals and format will support your presentation rather than let the software decide for you. Start with a blank presentation layout without color, backgrounds, titles, or content. This will provide the greatest flexibility.

Outline your presentation first. One of the most common PowerPoint mistakes is to use titles and bullets to outline what you want to say. The result is a text-heavy and boring presentation where the presenter and audience read from the screen. Before creating a single slide, start with an outline or storyboard of your presentation. This can be done in a word processing program or using the notes area inside PowerPoint. Create your slides afterwards to support your message.

Use quality photography. Photography is one of the single best ways to make your presentation look professional. However, pictures used incorrectly can actually detract from your presentation, confuse your audience, and make your creation look amateurish. Use a picture only if it actually contributes to your message and is of high quality. The current resolution in PowerPoint is 1280 by 720 pixels. If you use lower resolution images and resize larger, they will appear blurry and distorted in your final presentation. Some good sources for free photographs in the public domain are Flickr Creative Commons (https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons), Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org), Pixabay (https://pixabay.com), and FreeImages (http://www.freeimages.com).

Evoke feelings with color. Color is emotional. The right color can help persuade and motivate. You do not need to be an expert in color theory, but it’s good for presenters to have some knowledge on the subject. Colors can be divided into two general categories: cool (blue, green, and violet) and warm (red, orange, and yellow). Cool colors work best for backgrounds as they appear to recede away from us. Warm colors generally work best for objects in the foreground (such as text) because they appear to be advancing toward us. Never use a cool text color against a cool background or warm text color against a warm background; it will be illegible. Aim for the greatest amount of contrast and remember that what you see on your computer screen may not look the same presented in a room.

Avoid the bullet point plague! Choose the text in your presentation wisely. Remember that your audience will be reading instead of listening to you so keep text to a bare minimum. Avoid the standard slide layout with a title at the top and bullet points below. Instead insert text boxes where they fit best for short quotes, important facts, and keywords. Some of the best slides have no text at all. Use handouts, never your presentational aids, for sharing large amounts of information that the audience will need later.

Choose an appropriate font. Once you have decided on text, use fonts to communicate subtle messages like mood, formality, or time period. Know the difference between a serif font (e.g., Times New Roman or Cambria) and a sans-serif font (e.g., Calibri or Arial). Serif fonts have small accents or flourishes at the end of each stroke and were designed to be used in documents filled with lots of text. Sans-serif fonts are generally best for presentational aids as they are easier to read when projected. Use script or decorative fonts (e.g., Papyrus or Chiller) sparingly. Please note that if you use a font that is not installed on the presentation computer, you must embed the font it in your PowerPoint file. Otherwise the computer will default to an installed font, negating all your design work. Regardless of what fonts, colors, or images you choose, make sure all text can be easily read from the back of the room.

Create an engaging title slide. Until the title or “cover” slide is shown, the audience has no idea what to expect from your presentation. Creating an attractive title slide and leaving it up while you introduce yourself and your topic can create a positive beginning and give the audience a psychological heads up to pay attention because they’re about to experience a well-designed, thoughtful presentation. A title slide also provides a visual theme that you can carry on throughout the rest of the presentation. This helps the presentation seem cohesive and professionally done rather than the random and scattered feel of seeing a completely different design on every slide.

Limit transitions and animations. There are only so many things that a person can pay attention to at one time. When you use a transition or animation effect, it requires some of the precious attention of your audience. Stick to the subtlest and professional effects (similar to what you might see on the nightly news) and use them consistently. Only change the effects if you want to drastically change the tone of your presentation. Each slide should only have one main point; use a clicker or time your slides so they transition to the next point as you do.

For further information about good and bad presentation design, see “You Suck at PowerPoint” by Jesse Desjardins at http://www.slideshare.net/jessedee/you-suck-at-powerpoint.

12. How do I integrate my visual aids into my presentation without being distracting?

Master the technology and do the planning necessary for getting your visual aid onto the screen with a minimum amount of wait time for the audience. When a presenter has to search through folders or log into multiple accounts to get to a file, it diminishes his ethos and makes him appear unprepared even before he has spoken a word.

Be aware of the layout of the space where you are giving your speech and plan ahead so the audience can see both you and the presentation aids clearly. Maintain eye contact with your audience instead of focusing on the screen. Practice your speech enough that you know what is on the screen so you only need to occasionally look at it. It is completely acceptable to interact with your visual aids. Point to relevant items. This strategy will be helpful for people who want to incorporate more movement and gestures into their speeches. It also is a way to channel nervous energy.

13. How do I cite images correctly on the visual aid?

It is important to cite sources for information; it is equally important to cite sources for images used in your visual aids (except for images that you create yourself). It is important to give credit because the citation allows audience members to trace the image back to its original source. “Google Images” is not a sufficient attribution.

Fair use guidelines generally allow for educators and students to use copyrighted images within a classroom setting or for academic work. However, if you are doing a project or presentation for an outside organization then you should use images from the public domain (available for use without paying licensing fees). Always ask your instructor how to cite your images properly. A URL is sufficient in many cases, but you may be required to provide a full APA reference list as the last slide of your presentation and an in-text citation next to the image itself.



Monroe, A. H., & Ehninger, D. (1969). Principles and types of speech communication (6th ed.). Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.


Job Satisfaction Overview

Job satisfaction is the most widely researched job attitude and among the most extensively researched subjects in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (Judge & Church, 2000). Several work motivation theories have corroborated the implied role of job satisfaction. Work satisfaction theories, such as Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs, Hertzberg’s (1968) Two-Factor (Motivator-Hygiene) Theory, Adam’s (1965) Equity Theory, Porter and Lawler’s (1968) modified version of Vroom’s (1964) VIE Model, Locke’s (1969) Discrepancy Theory, Hackman and Oldham’s (1976) Job Characteristics Model, Locke’s (1976) Range of Affect Theory, Bandura’s (1977) Social Learning Theory, and Landy’s (1978) Opponent Process Theory, have tried to explain job satisfaction and its influence, .

Such expansive research has resulted in job satisfaction being linked to productivity, motivation, absenteeism/tardiness, accidents, mental/physical health, and general life satisfaction (Landy, 1978). A common theory within the research has been that, to an extent, the emotional state of an individual is affected by interactions with their work environment. People identify themselves by their profession, such as a doctor, lawyer, or teacher. Hence, an individual's personal well-being at work is a significant aspect of research (Judge & Klinger, 2007). 

The most widely accepted theory of job satisfaction was proposed by Locke (1976), who defined job satisfaction as “a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experiences” (Locke, 1975, p.1304). Job satisfaction has emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components (Bernstein & Nash, 2008). The emotional component refers to job-related feelings such as boredom, anxiety, acknowledgement and excitement. The cognitive component of job satisfaction pertains to beliefs regarding one's job whether it is respectable, mentally demanding / challenging  and rewarding. Finally, the behavioral component includes people's actions in relation to their work such as tardiness, working late, faking illness in order to avoid work (Bernstein & Nash, 2008). 

Job satisfaction refers to the positive attitudes or emotional dispositions people may gain from work or through aspects of work. Employees’ job satisfaction becomes a central attention in the researches and discussions in work and organizational psychology because it is believed to have relationship with the job performance.

There are essentially two types of job satisfaction based on the level of employees' feelings regarding their jobs. The first, and most analysed, is global job satisfaction, which refers to employees' overall feelings about their jobs (e.g., "Overall, I love my job.") (Mueller & Kim, 2008). The second is job facet satisfaction, which refers to feelings regarding specific job aspects, such as salary, benefits, work hierarchy (reporting structure), growth opportunities, work environment and the quality of relationships with one's co-workers (e.g., "Overall, I love my job, but my schedule is difficult to manage.") (Mueller & Kim, 2008). According to Kerber and Campbell (1987), measurements of job facet satisfaction helps identify specific aspects of a job  that require improvement. The  findings may aid organizations in improving overall job satisfaction or in understanding organizational issues such as high turnover (Kerber & Campbell, 1987). 

There are several myths regarding job satisfaction. One such myth is that a happy employee is a productive employee (Syptak et al., 1999). Research has offered little to support that a happy employee is productive, on the contrary, some research has suggested that casualness may creep in, shifting from productivity to satisfaction (Bassett, 1994). Hence, if there is a correlation, it is a weak one. Knowing that research does not support the idea that happiness and employee satisfaction creates higher production, why do I/O psychologists and organizations still attempt to keep employees happy? Many have pointed out that I/O psychologists research perspective moves beyond increasing the bottom line of an organization. Happy employees do not negatively affect productivity and can have a positive effect at workplace and on society at large. It also positively impacts the organization's brand image. Therefore, it still benefits all parties to have happy and satisfied employees. Another fallacy is that the pay is the most important factor in job satisfaction. In reality, employees are more satisfied when they enjoy the environment in which they work (Berry, 1997). An individual can have a high paying job and not be satisfied because it is boring and lacks sufficient stimulation. In fact, a low-paying job can be seen as satisfying if it is adequately challenging or stimulating. There are numerous factors that must be taken into consideration when determining how satisfied an employee is with his or her job, and it is not always easy to determine which factors are most important to each employee. Job satisfaction is very subjective for each employee and each situation being assessed.

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Variables of Job Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction

People tend to evaluate their work experiences based on feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction regarding their job, as well as the organization in which they work (Jex, 2002). There are many probable influences that affect how favorably an individual appraises his or her job. Through years of extensive research, I/O psychologists have identified numerous variables that seem to contribute to either job satisfaction or organizational commitment (Glisson & Durick, 1988). To explain the development of job satisfaction, researchers have taken three common approaches: job characteristics, social information processing (organizational characteristics), and dispositional (worker characteristics) (Glisson & Durick, 1988; Jex, 2002). 

Job Characteristics

Job characteristics approach research has revealed that the nature of an individual’s job or the characteristics of the organization predominantly determines job satisfaction (Jex, 2002). According to Hackman & Oldham (1980), a job characteristic is an aspect of a job that generates ideal conditions for high levels of motivation, satisfaction, and performance. Furthermore, Hackman & Oldham (1980) proposed five core job characteristics that all jobs should contain: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback. They also defined four personal and work outcomes: internal work motivation, growth satisfaction, general satisfaction, and work effectiveness which have been added to the more popular dimensions of job satisfaction assessment: the work itself, pay, promotional opportunities, supervision, and co-worker relations (Smith et al., 1969). 

A common premise in research of the effects of job circumstances on job satisfaction is that individuals assess job satisfaction by comparing the current receivables from the job with what they believe they should receive (Jex, 2002).  For example, if an employee receiving an annual salary of $45,000 believes that he or she should be receiving a salary of $43,000, then he or she will experience satisfaction; however, if the employee believes that he or she should be receiving $53,000, then he or she will feel dissatisfied. This comparison would apply to each job facet including: skill level, seniority, promotional opportunities, supervision, etc. (Jex, 2002).

According to Locke (1976), this process becomes even more complex since the importance of work facets differs as per individual perception. For example, one employee may feel that pay rate is extremely important while another may feel that social relationships are more important. To explain the effects of these differences, Locke (1976) put forth the ideas of the range of affect theory. The hypothesis of this theory is that employees weigh facets differently while assessing job satisfaction (Locke, 1976). Consequently, this leads to an individual measure of satisfaction or dissatisfaction when expectations are met or not. For example, the job satisfaction of an employee who places extreme importance on pay would be positively impacted if he or she receives a salary within expectation. Conversely, his or her level of pay would minimally impact the job satisfaction of an employee who places little importance on pay.  

Social information processing (organizational characteristics)

Based mainly on Festinger’s (1954) Social Comparison Theory, Jex (2002) explains that during social information processing, employees look to co-workers to make sense of and develop attitudes about their work environment. In other words, if employees find their co-workers positive and satisfied then they will most likely be satisfied; however, if their co-workers are negative and dissatisfied then the employee will most likely become dissatisfied. New hires may become “tainted” during the socialization process if placed around employees who are dissatisfied (Jex, 2002). Although laboratory studies have found that social information has a prevailing impact on job satisfaction and characteristic perceptions, organizational tests have been less supportive (Jex & Spector, 1989). 

Weiss and Shaw conducted a study that required subjects to view a training video where assembly-line workers either made positive or negative comments regarding their jobs. The subjects who viewed the video were then given the opportunity to perform the job. The study found that the subjects who were shown the positive video enjoyed performing the job tasks more than the subjects who viewed the negative tape (Aamondt, 2009).

Mirolli et al., (1998) also conducted a similar study.  In this study, the subjects performed a task with two experimenters pretending to be other subjects (referred to as confederates). In one condition, positive comments were made by the confederates about the job and how much they enjoyed it. In the second condition, the confederates made negative comments about the job and how much they disliked it. In the control condition, no positive or negative comments were made regarding the job. The actual subjects exposed to the confederates who made positive comments rated the job tasks as more enjoyable than the subjects exposed to the negative comments by the confederates. This further supports social information processing theory (Aamondt, 2009).

Generally, “the research on social information processing theory supports the idea that social environment does have an effect on employees’ attitudes and behaviors” (Aamondt, 2009, p. 374).    

As an application of social information processing theory, Netzwerk, an IT company in Germany, implemented rules in their contracts. Employees who work at this company must sign a contract agreeing not to whine or complain and have even fired employees for excessive whining (Aamondt, 2009). 

Dispositional (worker characteristics)

Internal disposition is the crux of the latest method of explaining job satisfaction which hints some people being inclined to be satisfied or dissatisfied with their work irrespective of the nature of the job or the organizational environment (Jex, 2002). More simply put, some people are genetically positive in disposition (the glass half full), whereas others are innately negative in disposition (the glass half empty). For instance, a study of twins who were reared apart (same genetic characteristics but different experiences) found that 30 percent of inconsistency in satisfaction was accredited to genetic factors (Arvey et al., 1989). Although individuals change jobs and employers, individual disposition has been shown to be consistent by the use of survey results on job satisfaction (Staw & Ross, 1985). Additionally, Staw et al. (1986) found that adolescent evaluations of affective disposition were correlated with adult job satisfaction as many as forty years later. 

Several years of research have been conducted on the dispositional source of job satisfaction, and have presented strong evidence that job satisfaction, to some extent, is based on disposition (Judge & Larsen, 2001). Dispositional affect is the predisposition to experience related emotional moods over time (Judge & Kammeyer-Mueller, 2008). Accordingly, this approach assumes that an employee’s attitude about his or her job originates from an internal (mental) state. Positive affect is a predisposition favorable to positive emotional experience, whereas negative affect is a predisposition to experience a wide array of negative emotions (Watson, Clark, & Carey, 1988). Positive affective people feel enthusiastic, active, alert and optimistic while negative affective people feel anger, contempt, disgust, guilt, fear and nervousness (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988).

There is ample evidence supporting disposition causing job satisfaction from a Social Cognitive aspect as well. Causation through disposition indicates that job satisfaction can be determined by an individual's general overall outlook. In psychology, Cognitive Theory of Depression states that an individual’s thought process and perceptions can be a source of unhappiness. Moreover, the automated thoughts and processes (Beck, 1987) resulting from irrational and dysfunctional thinking perpetuate emotions of depression and unhappiness in individuals. Judge and Locke (1992) examined these concepts in detail. They discussed cognitive processes like perfectionism, over-generalization and dependence on others as causation for depression leading to unhappiness. They claimed that subjective well-being resulting from an affective disposition leads to individuals experiencing information recall regarding their job. In short, happy individuals tend to store and evaluate job information differently than unhappy individuals. This type of recollection indicates that job satisfaction may be influenced by subjective well-being. Tait, Padgett, and Baldwin (1989) performed a meta-analytic review discovering an average correlation between job and life satisfaction to be 0.44, which supports the theory of dispositional effect on job satisfaction. In addition, Howard and Bray (1988) determined through a study they performed on AT&T managers that motives such as ambition and desire to get ahead serve as some of the strongest predictors for advancement. Also, Bandura (1986) states that individual's aspirations become their standards of self-satisfaction indicating that those with high goals, theoretically, should be harder to satisfy than people with low goals. This would indicate that a high level of ambition resulting from high standards can point to a lower satisfaction as an end result. In addition, it is often the case that unsatisfied workers are highly ambitious but unhappy as a result of their inability to be promoted within an organization. For this reason, ambition can negatively influence job satisfaction. However, Judge and Locke (1992) caution that dysfunctional thinking is not singularly responsible for dispositional factors affecting job satisfaction. They mention self-esteem, locus of control, self-efficacy, intelligence, and ambition as well.

Social Cognitive aspects have been found to contribute significantly to job satisfaction; however, researchers have not conducted simultaneous comparison of these approaches (Baker, 2004). Job characteristics have been shown to impact job satisfaction (Baker, 2004). Recent studies on social informational processing have found that leadership actions influence job satisfaction (Baker, 2004). Various research findings have indicated that a relationship between disposition and job satisfaction does in fact exist. Weiss and Cropanzano (1996) advocated that emotionally significant procedures at work may be influenced by disposition, which in turn influences job satisfaction. Job characteristics have been favored in research (Thomas et al., 2004); however, less research has been conducted on the dispositional approach, since it is fairly new (Coutts & Gruman, 2005).

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Other Variables of Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction

Life Satisfaction

Life satisfaction is often considered separately from job satisfaction with regard to productivity in the workplace, but since the majority of this research is correlational, it is crucial to explore potential relationships between these two factors themselves rather than strictly with regard to performance. Research suggests there is in fact a significant relationship between job satisfaction and life satisfaction, with a correlation of 0.44 (based on a meta analysis of 34 studies with a combined sample size of 19,811) (Tait et al., 1989). With this relationship being correlational, causation cannot be determined, though it is suggested that the nature of the relationship is reciprocal or bi-directional. (Judge et al., 1993) In other words, life satisfaction may positively influence job satisfaction and job satisfaction will also positively influence life satisfaction. Conversely, some research suggests that life satisfaction often precedes and is a good predictor of job satisfaction (Judge et al., 1993). Nevertheless, one cannot deny there is a significant relationship between job satisfaction and life satisfaction based on correlational research (Jones, 2006).


It is difficult to establish all the antecedents that lead to job satisfaction. However, an additional construct that has a positive correlation to job satisfaction is engagement. In a meta-analysis, the correlation between job satisfaction and engagement is 0.22 (Harter et al., 2002). Stirling (2008) notes that 20 percent of engaged individuals do 80 percent of the work. An engaged team member is one who is enthusiastic about the organization and the work they do.  Examples of employee engagement include a team member helping another struggling to complete a task, or an associate who take over and completes a pending task in the absence of the responsible party. Therefore, it is crucial to continue to cultivate job satisfaction among such highly productive individuals.

A study completed examined three possible factors which play a part in employee engagement.  The three factors are vigor, dedication, and absorption (Alarcon & Lyons, 2010).  Vigor is directly related to the amount of energy and effort an individual will put forth to complete a task, regardless of difficulties (Alarcon & Lyons, 2010).  Dedication relates to the amount of overall significance a task carries and absorption is the depth of work immersion the individual experiences (Alarcon & Lyons, 2010).  The study found that the three factors all had an impact on engagement, however they also noted that a positive disposition toward one’s job also correlated with positive engagement (Alarcon & Lyons, 2010).    

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The Importance of Job Satisfaction

As mentioned in the overview, job satisfaction has been linked to many variables including performance, absenteeism and turnover, which will be discussed further in this section.

Job satisfaction is significant because a person's attitude and beliefs may affect his or her behavior. Attitudes and beliefs may cause a person to work harder or work less. Job satisfaction also impacts a person's general well being for the simple reason that people spend a good part of the day at work. Consequently, a person's dissatisfaction with work could lead to dissatisfaction in other areas of life. 

Employee performance

The relationship between job satisfaction and job performance has a long and controversial history. Researchers were first made aware of the link between satisfaction and performance through the 1924-1933 Hawthorne studies (Naidu, 1996).Since the Hawthorne studies, numerous researchers have critically examined the idea that "a happy worker is a productive worker". Research results of Iaffaldano and Muchinsky (1985) have found a weak connection, approximately 0.17, between job satisfaction and job performance. However, research conducted by Organ (1988) discovered that a stronger connection between performance and satisfaction could not be established because of the narrow definition of job performance. Organ (1988) believes that when the definition of job performance includes behaviors such as organizational citizenship (the extent to which one's voluntary support contributes to the success of an organization) the relationship between satisfaction and performance will improve. Judge, Thoreson, Bono, and Patton (2001) discovered that after correcting the sampling and measurement errors of 301 studies, the correlation between job satisfaction and job performance increased to 0.30. It is important to note that the connection between job satisfaction and job performance is higher for difficult jobs than for less difficult jobs (Saari & Judge, 2004).

A link does exist between job satisfaction and job performance; however, it is not as strong as one would like to believe. The weak link may be attributed to factors such as job structure or economic conditions. For example, some jobs are designed so that a minimum level of performance is required providing no scope for greater satisfaction. moreover, in times of high unemployment, dissatisfied employees will perform well, choosing unsatisfying work over unemployment.

In 2006, researcher Michelle Jones analyzed three studies combining 74 separate investigations of job satisfaction and job performance in 12,000 workers. She wrote: "The conclusions drawn by these researchers, and many others, indicate the presence of a positive, but very weak, relationship between job satisfaction and job performance" (Jones, 2006). Jones argues that we have been measuring the wrong kind of satisfaction. Instead of job satisfaction, we should be looking at the link between overall satisfaction with life and output at work (Bright, 2008). In this study, Jones implies that the more satisfied we are with our life in general, the more productive we will be in our jobs.

Employee absenteeism

One of the more widely researched topics in Industrial Psychology is the relationship between job satisfaction and employee absenteeism (Cheloha, & Farr, 1980). It is only natural to assume that if individuals dislike their jobs then they will often call in sick, or simply look for a new opportunity. Yet again, the link between these factors and job satisfaction is weak. The correlation between job satisfaction and absenteeism is 0.25 (Johns, 1997). It is likely that a satisfied worker may miss work due to illness or personal matters, while an unsatisfied worker may not miss work because he or she does not have any sick time and cannot afford the loss of income. When people are satisfied with their job they are more likely to attend work even if they have a cold; however, if they are not satisfied with their job, they would be more likely to call in sick even when they are well enough to work. 

Employee turnover

According to a meta-analysis of 42 studies, the correlation between job satisfaction and turnover is 0.24 (Carsten, & Spector, 1987). One obvious factor affecting turnover would be an economic downturn, during which unsatisfied workers may not have other employment opportunities. On the other hand, a satisfied worker may be forced to resign his or her position for personal reasons such as illness or relocation. This holds true for the men and women of the US Armed Forces, who might fit well in a job but are often made to relocate regardless. In such case, it would be next to impossible to measure any correlation of job satisfaction. Furthermore, a person is more likely to be actively searching for another job if they have low satisfaction; whereas, a person who is satisfied with his or her job is less likely to be job hunting.

Another researcher viewed the relationship between job satisfaction and an employee's intent to leave the organization, turnover intention, as mediated by workplace culture. Medina (2012) found that job satisfaction was strongly inversely correlated with turnover intention and this relationship was mediated by satisfaction in workplace culture. The study provides evidence that should be further explored to aid in the understanding of employee turnover and job satisfaction; particularly in how job satisfaction and employee turnover relate to workplace culture (Medina, 2012).

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The Importance of Job Satisfaction to Employee Retention

The following video depicts the importance of job satisfaction to employee retention. Employee retention is one of the most difficult operational areas for human resources managers to determine exactly why employees leave the organization, and what they should do to retain them. This is of primary importance because organizations invest significant resources in training, developing, tangible and intangible compensation and taking the time to build organizational citizenship and buy-in to goals and objectives (Kazi, & Zadeh, 2011). In difficult economies and highly competitive markets, both organizations and employees want the best resources. Job dissatisfaction leads to job turnover. This dissatisfaction can be from intrinsic or extrinsic factors (PSU WC, L11, p.5). Job turnover can result from various conditions such as job satisfaction. Job satisfaction is multi-faceted, implying that one can be satisfied in one area but does not necessarily mean satisfaction in all areas; likewise, dissatisfaction in one area does not mean complete job dissatisfaction (Kazi, & Zadeh, 2011). Additionally, job turnover can also be related to work-life conflict. The work life and personal life is an individual’s experience to maintain harmony (balance) between work and personal relationships. Kazi & Zadeh propose that an imbalance or dissatisfaction in work leads to dissatisfaction in personal life. This can lead to job turnover. This is precisely what Swift (2007) reported in his article about having a more fulfilled and productive workforce. For organizations to remain competitive, they need to understand and address the issues around work-life balance to maintain job satisfaction among employees. To support this idea, Bright (2008) article reports that people who are happy with life are happier employees and show better organizational citizenship, courtesy and conscientiousness. 

Employee satisfaction is of utmost importance for employees to remain happy and also deliver their level best. Satisfied employees are the ones who are extremely loyal towards their organization and stick to it even in the worst scenario. The first benefit of employee satisfaction is that individuals hardly think of leaving their current jobs. Employee satisfaction is essential to ensure higher revenues for the organization. Satisfied employees tend to adjust more and handle pressure with ease as compared to frustrated ones.

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Job Satisfaction and Retirement

In a 2013 study from Lehigh University, individuals begin to think about retirement in their early years and develop a plan of action over the years. While individuals who begin working a career earlier on in their life plan to retire earlier, individuals who begin a career later in life, plan to retire later in life as well. The research shows that job satisfaction has very little to do with how we plan for our retirement. While the survey shows that many individuals do consider income, location and attitude when discussing retirement options, they do not solely decide if and when retirement is an option for them nor do the factors (poor work environment, long hours, unhappy with position, etc) (Lehigh University, 2013) There are many studies that have questioned if job satisfaction is something that you experience more in your younger years or older. Studies have returned with both sets of results. Some individuals have more job satisfaction in their earlier years while others experience it more when they are older. So, it is undetermined if you will retire from a job that you have been satisfied at or unsatisfied at. 

Application of Job Satisfaction in the Workplace

The application of job satisfaction in the workplace is a difficult concept to grasp due to its individualistic and situational nature. What one employee desires from work, another may not. For instance, one employee may put salary in high regard, while another may find autonomy the most important. Unfortunately, one aspect alone will most likely not effect an employee's job satisfaction. According to Syptak, Marsland, and Ulmer (1999), there are numerous aspects of a job through which an organization can manage increase satisfaction in the workplace, such as:

  • Company Policies- Policies that are transparent, fair and applied equally to all employees will decrease dissatisfaction.  Therefore, fairness and clarity are crucial in improving employee attitude. For example, if a company has a policy for lunch breaks having the same length and time for all, it will be seen as a norm and will help cut down on wasted time and low productivity.
  • Salary/Benefits - Making sure employee salaries and benefits are comparable to other organization salaries and benefits will help raise satisfaction. If a company wishes to produce a competitive product they must also offer competitive wages. Furthermore, this can help reduce turnover, as employees will invariably be more satisfied when paid competitive wages as opposed to being underpaid.
  • Interpersonal/Social Relations - Encouraging employees to develop a social aspect to their job may increase satisfaction as well as develop a sense of teamwork. Co-worker relationships will benefit the organization as a whole since teamwork is a very important aspect of organization productivity and success. Moreover, when people are allowed to develop work relationships they care more about pulling their own weight and not letting co-workers down. Employee involvement groups are a great way to help employee's interact with individuals outside their department or organization. 
  • Working Conditions - upgrading facilities and equipment and ensuring employees have adequate personal workspace can decrease dissatisfaction. A cramped employee is a frustrated employee plus faulty equipment leads to frustration in trying to get work done. 
  • Achievement - Ensuring employees are appropriately placed to utilize their talents may enhance satisfaction. When employees are given proper role and feel a sense of achievement and challenge, their talents will be in line with the goals best suited for them.
  • Recognition - Ensuring a job well done is duly acknowledged increases the likelihood of employee satisfaction. Positive and constructive feedback boosts an employee's morale and helps them work at the desired level and towards the desired direction.
  • Autonomy - Giving employees the freedom and sense of ownership of their work may help raise job satisfaction as the individuals realise they are responsible for the outcome of their work. 
  • Advancement - Allowing employees showing high performance and loyalty, the room to advance will help ensure satisfaction. A new / higher position and sense of responsibility can often increase job satisfaction in an employee.
  • Job Security - Especially in times of economic uncertainty, job security is a very crucial factor in determining an employee's job satisfaction. Giving an employee the assurance that their job is secure will most likely increase job satisfaction.
  • Work-life Balance Practices- In times where the average household is changing, it is becoming increasingly important for an employer to recognize the delicate balancing act that its employees perform between their personal life and work life. Policies that cater to common personal and family needs can be essential to maintaining job satisfaction.  

The image above displays the difference in viewpoints between an organization and an individual when it comes to overall job satisfaction.

A study published by The Families and Work Institute shows that, despite the numerous aspects of a job, there are a few that specifically allow for greater improvement of satisfaction. According to their study, workplace support and job quality collectively account for 70 percent of the factors influencing job satisfaction. Surprisingly, earnings and benefits only account for 2 percent (Employee Retention Headquarters, n.d.).

When it comes to ensuring job satisfaction in the workplace, it is important to look at all aspects of job satisfaction. Every employee is different and will have different views which makes job satisfaction extremely hard to research; however, Everett (1995) suggests that responsible employees ask themselves the following questions:

  • When have I come closest to expressing my full potential in a work situation?
  • What did it look like?
  • What aspects of the workplace were most supportive?
  • What aspects of the work itself were most satisfying?
  • What did I learn from that experience that could be applied to the present situation?

For the employee to answer these questions, job satisfaction must be fully deployed within the organization. Listed in the above section are numerous aspects that organizations can utilize to help increase satisfaction. In addition to these aspects, organizations must also consider the needs of the employee. For example, an employee, who is a great asset to the company as he or she is highly educated and motivated, may have personal issues such as a child who requires daycare.As a remedy, organizations could allow flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, which would create a win-win situation both for the employee and the organization. Additionally, an organization should provide more opportunities for employees to help increase job satisfaction. Consequently, this would peak an interest in the employee, allowing him/her to take more pride in his or her work. Allowing married women the flexibility to work from home is another consideration. Although research might be difficult for job satisfaction theories, especially within the correlation field, there is just enough useful information to help employees and organizations become successful and enjoy their jobs, provided the right type of leadership is at the helm.

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Measures of Job Satisfaction

The following are measures of job satisfaction as outlined by Fields (2002):

  • Overall Job Satisfaction - Cammann, Fichman, Jenkins, and Klesh (1983) developed this measure as part of the Michigan Organizational Assessment Questionnaire (OAQ). In this measure three items are used to describe an employee’s subjective response to working in the specific job and organization (Fields, 2002, p. 20).
  • Job Descriptive Index (JDI) - This was originally developed by Smith, Kendall, and Hulin (1969). There are 72 items in this index which assess five facets of job satisfaction which includes: the work, pay, promotions, supervision and co-workers. Through the combination of ratings of satisfaction with the facets, a composite measure of job satisfaction is determined. Roznowski (1989) updated the JDI to include work atmosphere, job content and work technology. A shorter 30-item version, was developed by Gregson (1990) based on 6 items which included work, pay, promotions, supervision and co-workers (Fields, 2002, p. 23). 
  • Global Job Satisfaction - Warr, Cook, and Wall (1979) developed this measure which includes 15 items to determine overall job satisfaction. Two sub-scales are used for extrinsic and intrinsic aspects of the job. The extrinsic section has eight items and the intrinsic has seven items (Fields, 2002, p. 27).
  • Job Satisfaction Relative to Expectations - Bacharach, Bamberger, and Conley (1991) developed this measure. It assesses the degree “of agreement between the perceived quality of broad aspects of a job and employee expectations” (Fields, 2002, p. 6). It is most effective in determining how job stresses, role conflicts, or role ambiguities can hinder an employee from meeting job expectations (Fields, 2002, p. 6). 
  • Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire - The long form of this survey is made up of 100 questions based on 20 sub-scales which measure satisfaction with “ability, utilization, achievement, activity, advancement, authority, company policies and practices, compensation, co-workers, creativity, independence, moral values, recognition, responsibility, security, social service, social status, supervision-human relations, supervision-technical variety, and working conditions” (Fields, 2002, p. 7). There is a shorter version of the MSQ which consists of 20 items. This can also be separated into two sub-scales for intrinsic and extrinsic satisfaction.
  • Job in General Scale - This measure was developed by Ironson, Smith, Brannick, Gibson and Paul (1989). It consists of 18 items which describe global job satisfaction and can be used in conjunction with the JDI, which assesses satisfaction with five job facets. This was developed to “assess global satisfaction independent from satisfaction with facets” (Fields, 2002, p. 9).
  • Job Satisfaction Survey - This was developed by Spector (1985) and contains 36 items based on nine job facets. The job facets include pay, promotion, supervision, benefits, contingent rewards, operating procedures, co-workers, nature of work and communication. When it was initially developed, it was specific to job satisfaction in human service, nonprofit and public organizations (Fields, 2002, p. 14).
  • Job Satisfaction Index - Schriescheim and Tsue, (1980) developed this measure. It consists of six items that form and index what determines overall job satisfaction. The items are work, supervision, co-workers, pay, promotion opportunities and the job in general (Fields, 2002, p. 16).
  • Job Diagnostic Survey - Hackman and Oldham (1974) developed this survey which measures both overall and specific facets of job satisfaction. There are three dimensions of overall job satisfaction which includes general satisfaction, internal work motivation and growth satisfaction, which are combined into a single measure. The facets which are measured on the survey include security, compensation, co-workers and supervision (Fields, 2002, p. 20).
  • Career Satisfaction - Greenhaus, Parasuraman, and Wormley (1990) developed this measure. This is a measure of career success as opposed to job satisfaction. It assesses general satisfaction with career outcome and satisfaction with career progress (Fields, 2002, p. 29).

Fields outlines specific types of employee satisfaction measures which describe an employee’s satisfaction with one or more aspects of their job. These include the following (Fields, 2002):

  • Employee Satisfaction with Influence and Ownership developed by Rosen, Klein, and Young (1986).
  • Satisfaction with Work Schedule Flexibility developed by Rothausen (1994).
  • Satisfaction with My Supervisor developed by Scarpello and Vandenberg (1987).

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Research on Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is the most frequently studied variable in organizational behavior (Spector, 1997). Research on job satisfaction is performed through various methods including interviews, observations and questionnaires. The questionnaire is the most frequently used research method because it is unrestrained in nature. Researchers can use an existing assessment tool or scale, as a means of assessment. Using an existing scale provides the researcher with a valid, reliable and consistent construct while assessing job satisfaction. Job satisfaction can be assessed using a general scale, facet satisfaction scale or global satisfaction scale. The Jobs Descriptive Index (JDI) is the most popular job satisfaction assessment tool with researchers (Spector, 1997). The JDI is broken down into five facets of satisfaction: work, pay, promotion, supervision and co-workers.

The most significant research study that shows the importance of job satisfaction is the Hawthorne studies (Muchinsky, 1985). The purpose of the study was to research the relationship between lighting and efficiency. The experiment was conducted in 1924 by researchers from Western Electric and Harvard University at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company. Various sets of lights at various intensities were set up in rooms where electrical equipment was being produced. The amount of illumination (bright, dim, or a combination) provided to the workers seemed to have no effect on production. The results of the study were so unexpected that further investigation revealed many previously unknown aspects of human behavior in the workplace. Researchers learned that factors other than lighting affect worker's productivity. The workers responded positively to the attention they were receiving from the researchers and as a result, productivity rose. Job performance continued to improve because of the novelty of the situation; when the novelty wore off, production returned to its earlier level. Research has offered little support that a happy employee is productive; in fact, research suggests that causality may flow in the opposite direction from productivity to satisfaction (Bassett, 1994).

Research on this theory supports that job satisfaction is an important factor not only for employees but for organizations as well.  For example, in a research survey byGrant, Fried, and Juillerat (2010)at a large bank, managers found that bank tellers were very dissatisfied with their jobs stating that they were "just glorified clerks". They also said that their jobs were boring and felt micromanaged because they were unable to make decisions even small ones, without the approval of their managers. In this case, the managers of the bank decided to re-design the teller jobs to increase job satisfaction.  New tasks were added to provide variety and the use of a broad range of skills.  In addition to their checking cash, deposit and loan payment tasks, they were trained to handle commercial and traveler's cheques as well as post payments online. The tellers were also given more autonomy in their roles and decision-making responsibilities. Finally, when feedback time approached, the managers felt that by re-designing the role of the teller they were giving the tellers responsibility to own their customers. In this particular case, it was observed that job satisfaction had increased. A survey was taken six months later and it was found that not only were the tellers more satisfied with their role but they were also more committed to the organization. Finally, during employee/manager evaluations, it was found that there was an increase in performance by the tellers and that the job satisfaction provided by the job redesign had effects lasting at least four years (Grant et al., 2010).

According to another study bySyptak, Marsland, and Ulmer(1999) satisfied employees tend to be more productive, creative and committed to their employers.Furthermore, recent studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between staff satisfaction and patient satisfaction. In the case of the physician's office, a study found that not only were the employees and patients more satisfied, the physicians found an increased level of job satisfaction as well. The study conducted in the physician's office was based on Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory. Hygiene factors are related to the work environment and include: company policies, supervision, salary, interpersonal relations and working conditions. Motivators factors are related to the job and make employees want to succeed and include: achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility and advancement.  According to Herzberg, once the hygiene issues are addressed, the motivators promote job satisfaction and encourage production. In applying Herzberg's theory to the real life physician's practice. The study first addressed the hygiene factors "because these are important in creating an environment in which employee satisfaction and motivation are possible” (Syptak et al., 1999). The study discussed in detail each aspect of the hygiene factors and how the physicians could apply these factors to create an environment that promoted job satisfaction.  The study then moved on to the motivators and again discussed in detail the aspects of each factor. Finally, "by creating an environment that promotes job satisfaction, you are developing employees who are motivated, productive and fulfilled” (Syptak et al., 1999). The image below provides a visual between the differences in motivators and de-motivators in job satisfaction.

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Correlation versus Causation

While one may wish to understand which variables increase or decrease job satisfaction, it is important to remember that correlation is not equivalent to causation (Steinberg, 2008). Research has shown that there is a correlation between job satisfaction and performance, turnover, and absenteeism. A correlation indicates that there is a relationship between these variables; however, it does not explain "which variable, if either, caused the relationship" (Steinberg, 2008, p. 419). It is entirely possible that an outside variable is responsible for the correlation (Steinberg, 2008). For example, job satisfaction and job performance are positively correlated (when job satisfaction increases, job performance increases). However, for one person, satisfaction may increase because performance increases, whereas, for another, performance may increase because satisfaction increases. It is impossible to tell whether job satisfaction causes increased job performance or that job performance causes increased job satisfaction based on correlation alone.  

The following is a list of alternative explanations of a correlation (Pearson, 2010):

  • Reverse causation - The causal direction is opposite to what has been hypothesized; e.g., job performance causes an increase in job satisfaction rather than the other way around.
  • Reciprocal causation -The two variables cause each other; e.g. high job satisfaction causes high job performance which then increases job satisfaction.
  • Common-causal variables -Variables not part of the research hypothesis cause both the predictor and the outcome variable; e.g. individual disposition may cause both satisfaction and job performance.
  • Spurious relationship -The common-causal variable produces and “explains away” the relationship between the predictor and outcome variables; e.g., individual differences in disposition as described above.
  • Extraneous variables -Variables other than the predictor causes the outcome variable, but do not cause the predictor variable; e.g., pressure from a supervisor causes high performance.
  • Mediating variables -Variables caused by the predictor variable in turn cause the outcome variable; e.g. experience could cause high performance which then could cause satisfaction (performance would be the mediating variable).

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Experimental Research on Job Satisfaction

Even though job satisfaction is highly researched, only a few studies have conducted experiments in this area. Experimental research is very valuable for explaining the causation of the existing relationship between variables, while correlational studies only point out that these relationships exist and describe them.

Brief, Butcher, and Roberson (1995) conducted a field experiment with 57 hospital workers in order to examine how social information and disposition affect job satisfaction. The researchers tested three hypotheses; the first one was that negative affectivity (NA) is associated negatively with job satisfaction. The second one was that positive mood inducing events increase job satisfaction; and the last one was that the effects of positive events on job satisfaction are weaker among high NA individuals than they are among low NA individuals as a result of interaction of NA and positive mood inducing events (Brief et al., 1995). The subjects of this study were randomly assigned to two groups. The experimental group received positive mood-inducing incentives; they received cookies, soft drinks and attractively wrapped toys. The control group did not receive any incentives. Both groups filled out the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale (TMAS) that measured NA and questionnaires that measured job satisfaction (a modified version of Kunin’s Faces scale). The results demonstrated that a disposition to NA is negatively associated with job satisfaction. The next findings indicated that positive mood-induced events increased job satisfaction. The last results showed that the individuals with high NA are resistant to positive mood-induced events. All these results were consistent with the hypotheses.

This study supplements the knowledge of job satisfaction by providing valuable information about how social information processing (mood inducing events) and dispositional characteristics (NA as a personality trait) affect job satisfaction. The information provided by this research might be utilized by managers in personnel hiring process and to boost job satisfaction. The managers might use the instruments that measure NA and PA (positive affectivity) in order to predict job satisfaction among employees. In addition, they may introduce positive mood-inducing events in the form of incentives that would lead to increased job satisfaction.

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The Consequences of Job Dissatisfaction

According to the exit- voice- loyalty- neglect- framework (Farrell, 1983), employees’ response to dissatisfaction with the workplace can take four forms, each of which differs from the others on two dimensions: active vs. passive and constructive vs. destructive. The four responses are:

  1. Exit: exit refers to behavior aimed at leaving the company, such as looking for a new job. Exit is a destructive and active response.
  2. Voice: voice refers to employee initiative to improve conditions in the organization, for example, offering ideas on how to improve the business. Voice is an active and constructive response.
  3. Loyalty: loyalty refers to an employee’s attitude of trust toward the organization. It can manifest itself as a passive but optimistic hope for improvements to come about. Loyalty is passive and constructive.
  4. Neglect: neglect occurs when an employee shows absenteeism, shows up late for work and puts less effort at work. By performing inadequately at work, the employee is allowing conditions to deteriorate. Neglect is passive and destructive.

So far we have only been focusing on Job Satisfaction but what about those who become dissatisfied? Only 30% of Americans enjoy their job which leads us to believe that nearly 70% of working Americans do not enjoy their job (Notte 2013). Not only is satisfaction important in running a happy and productive workplace because job dissatisfaction can cost the company. For example, unhappy workers that call in sick and find ways to avoid working cost U.S. companies $450 billion to $550 billion every year (Notte 2013). It is especially important for companies to not lose money due to their employees as loss due to employee neglect is a tremendous cost. Companies must better employ strategies and techniques listed above in order to increase overall job satisfaction and revenue in the company.  Currently, nearly half of American employees are disengaged with their work causing them to not perform to their best. In order for companies to work best, they must have employees who are working their best; business must change and adapt to the employees in order to improve job satisfaction.

Cognitive belief about work is not a fixed emotion as it can be altered and influenced by current happenings in and out of the company which cause feelings to change for the better or worse. Job productivity, as well as many other important aspects to a happy work environment, has been proven to work better, with more satisfied workers. Changes in the structure of American business must significantly improve to increase the satisfaction of employees.

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Research on the Consequences of Job Dissatisfaction

Researchers Henne & Locke (1985) designed a model  that illustrates what they hypothesize happens to individuals who are dissatisfied with their jobs. When job dissatisfaction strikes it is merely an emotional state; in response to the emotional state people will devise an alternative plan that is dependent upon the individual, his estimation of the situation and his own capabilities or aspirations. The alternative plan (see diagram below) will be behavioral (action) or psychological (Henne & Locke, 1985).   

(Henne & Locke, 1985)

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Action Alternatives

  • Performance - It’s almost intuitive to conclude that people who are dissatisfied don’t perform as well as people who are satisfied with their job.  However this isn’t always the case; discontentment can trigger a change in people to come up with creative solutions to problems (Zhou & George, 2001). If a person is dissatisfied they may perform better to rectify the situation, so performance level may be high or low depending on the individual.
  • Protest - Another form of action an unhappy worker may resort to, is the protest. One form of protest is unionization. People tend to join unions for a number of reasons, including support if there is a problem at work or to improve pay and work conditions (Wadditigton & Whitston, 1997). Protests are usually an attempt to change the cause of the unhappiness (Henne & Locke, 1985).
  • Withdrawal - Absenteeism and/or leaving the job is another recourse a worker may take when they become dissatisfied in their workplace. 

Psychological Alternatives

  • Change perception – People can choose to change their outlook and views on life. They can decide that instead of focusing on things at the job that are dissatisfying, they would focus on things about the job they enjoy.
  • Change values – Most companies have a mission statement or a group of core values. If there is a conflict between personal values and company values, a person can change their values to align with the company’s values in order to alleviate dissatisfaction.
  • Change reaction – Another alternative an individual might have, while experiencing dissatisfaction, would be to avoid it using psychological defense mechanisms such as repression and evasion (Henne & Locke, 1985). He or she may choose to avoid aspects of the job they are unhappy with, or he or she may suppress their unhappiness.
  • Toleration – Others may simply tolerate their displeasure. They may reason out that they derive happiness from other sources in their life so they can put up with the displeasure at work (Henne & Locke, 1985).

Consequences of Choices

  • Life Satisfaction – Henne & Locke (1985) believed that work is a component of a person’s life and will affect one’s attitude towards life as a whole. "Since work is a component of one's life, it will affect one's attitude toward life as a whole." This is not exclusive, though. The effect on life satisfaction will depend on the importance of the job to the individual. (1985)
  • Mental Health – Locke (1976) suggests that the existence of dissatisfaction implies conflict in the employee's mind and the conflict may lead to issues. Whether or not dissatisfaction will lead to mental illness depends on the causes. Mental illness is more likely when an individual's values and actions are part of the problem. (Henne & Lock, 1985).
  • Physical Health - If the dissatisfaction event increases stress levels in an individual, it may have health implications. Many studies have proven the physical effects stress can have on the body including ulcers, headaches, high blood pressure, hyperacidity, and heart disease. (Henne & Locke, 1985)


Aamodt, M. (2009). Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Belmont, CA. Cengage Learning.

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Figure 1.Components of job satisfaction (The Pennsylvania State University, 2010).

Figure 2.Job Satisfaction Model(Field, 2008).

Figure 3.Facets of job satisfaction (Hackman & Oldham, 1980; Smith, Kendall, & Hulin, 1969).

Figure 5. Factors impacting job satisfaction (Employee Retention Headquarters, n.d.).

Figure 6. Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory (Herzberg, 1968; Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959).

Figure 4.Job satisfaction correlation (Iaffaldano & Muchinsky, 1985; Johns, 1997; Carsten & Spector, 1987).

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