A Stimulus/traits-organism-response (S/T-O-R) Model of Job Satisfaction

Over the years, situational and dispositional influences on job satisfaction has attracted much attention in the field of organizational behavior. Past research has yielded evidence that situational characteristics or environmental stimuli (S) affect job satisfaction (S-R model); and that personality traits (T) can be also a significant source of the emotional response (T-R model).

To expand the horizon of the job satisfaction research, we examined whether the effects of S (job characteristics, defined as motivating potential scores (MPS) of a job) and T (extraversion and neuroticism) on R (job satisfaction) would be mediated by a person’s cognitive appraisal (O) of the environmental stimuli, defined as the levels of perceived job challenge (S-O-R and T-O-R models). To test for the mediational hypotheses, we collected data from 122 registered nurses in a Japanese university hospital.

The results indicated that job characteristics (external stimuli, S), extraversion and neuroticism (internal traits, T1 and T2) were directly associated with JS, confirming the validity of the existing S-R and T-R models. Additionally, the data indicated that people vary in how they view the world, with some more likely than others to perceive a given task to be more challenging or rewarding (S-O-R).

Moreover, the study has successfully provided a personality-based explanation about why individuals assign different meanings to the situational stimuli.  Specifically, the results showed that extroverts, who are mainly motivated by pleasure or reward, tended to interpret job challenge to be attractive or fulfilling (T1-O-R).  On the other hand, neurotic individuals, who are worried about threat or failure, tended to view the situation to be psychologically painful or threatening (T2-O-R).

We believe that the results of the present study add an important contribution to the job satisfaction literature by empirically demonstrating the mechanisms of S-O-R and T-O-R in people’s affective functioning at work.

Shinichiro Watanabe and Toshihiro Nishizawa
University of Tsukuba, Japan

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