An affordances approach to information influences on university climate



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This study investigated the effect of climate expectations on perception and utilization of the objective features of the work environment (affordances) in decision making. A 2-way ANOVA design was used to create conditions under which individuals' expectations regarding departmental climate, either person or task oriented, were supported or not by the overall climate type of the university. The overall university climate was simulated through the use of written documents which reflected either a person or task orientation. One hundred and eighty-eight (188) students enrolled in upper division psychology courses participated in an in-basket activity which required that they role play a university administrator charged with making recommendations for a newly created department. A previous survey had indicated that students associated certain university departments with either a task or person oriented climate. It was assumed that these expectations held by the students would affect decisions made regarding the new department. It was hypothesized that subjects under conditions of congruency (expectations supported by objective information in the environment) would make decisions in line with both their expectations and the environmental messages. Moreover, it was predicted that these subjects would also express greater support and positive affect than subjects whose expectations were not supported by the information in the environment. For the most part, the stated hypotheses of the study were not supported. Post hoc analyses indicated that a strong, pre-existing bias towards making person oriented choices on the part of the subjects seriously affected the outcome of the study. Methodological features of the study, which are believed to have reinforced this pre-existing bias, are discussed, as well as recommendations for future research endeavors in this area.



Organizational behavior, Universities and colleges, United States