Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Grier, J. Brown

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


System theory; Work--Psychological aspects; Job satisfaction


This study examines five general systems theory hypotheses using the constructs of job satisfaction and work performance and develops needed laboratory methodology. The theory distinguishes between within-system functioning (e.g, job satisfaction) and system-environment functioning (e.g., work performance). Systems in which satisfaction and performance are positively related are predicted by the theory to adapt to changes in environment more readily than those in which this characteristic relationship is not positive. Three hundred sixty college students—divided into system-interaction groups of three--participated in the complete experiment. The experimental design (2x2x2) manipulated task interest (high or low), reward schedule (contingent or fixed), and quality emphasis (unchanged or increased) with repeated measures taken at four intervals. Each group received one condition for each of the first three independent variables. All systems were asked to role-play marketing research committees and to respond as a group to product questionnaires and individually to satisfaction questionnaires. Measures of job satisfaction and work performance were taken at the end of each of the four half-hour sessions. The major experimental manipulation consisted of giving half the groups additional input about the quality of their performance at the beginning of the fourth session. The satisfaction and performance results of the task-interest and reward-schedule manipulations, respectively, were in the predicted directions, but were not statistically significant, For groups where satisfaction and performance were positively related, predictions for adaptation compared the control groups to the experimental groups receiving additional input (increased quality emphasis). These predictions were confirmed in four out of eight cases when the comparisons were corrected for practice effects. Groups whose satisfaction-performance relationship was manipulated to be positive experienced no change in satisfaction, but groups with high task interest, contingent reward, experienced change in performance. The groups with high task interest, fixed reward, experienced the predicted change in satisfaction.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


vi, 93 pages




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