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Attraction-Selection-Attrition and Social Cognitive Theories


Personality determines the different forms of human behaviors and abilities; hence, it is important for success in an organization. Personality is the most important element that human resource managers consider in the recruitment process. Different roles require disparate kinds of skill sets and aptitudes, all of which are attributed to personality (Andrews, Baker, & Hunt, 2011). In the contemporary world, business organizations have recognized the importance of personality in the recruitment processes when filling in some job vacancies (Sigelman & Rider, 2014). This paper compares and contrasts the attraction-selection-attrition rate and social cognitive theory.

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Human beings are social, and thus interpersonal relationships give meaning to life. Personality is fashioned by interpersonal relationships (Andrews et al., 2011). Effective leaders develop their leadership skills in social environments that comprise supportive people. However, social environments can change developed personalities due to influence from peers (Sigelman & Rider, 2014).

Psychologists argue that personality is highly dependent on human character. Human character plays a major role in developing personal values (Mark, Donaldson, & Campbell, 2011). Hence, the human character is not influenced by social environments. Personality is defined as the human character in a social environment because it is the visible definition of a person at his/her best performance (Mark et al., 2011).

However, there is a strong relationship between personality and human character. Personality is the outward expression of human character. Besides, most people have personalities that are contrary to their inner characters (Andrews et al., 2011). Interestingly, psychologists argue that personalities that contradict human character do not last for long. Therefore, personality is studied for a long period to establish the definition of a human character (Sigelman & Rider, 2014). Hence, organizations require new entrants to go through a probation period to establish their human character and competitiveness in the workplace (Santrock, 2008).

Attraction-Selection-Attrition Theory and the Social Cognitive Theory

The Attraction-Selection-Attrition theory states that employee satisfaction in a workplace comes from congruency among attraction, selection, and attrition processes (Sigelman & Rider, 2014). As mentioned earlier, human beings are social beings, and thus social environment plays a major role in determining the level of fitness in a particular workplace and satisfaction that a person gets from that environment (Andrews et al., 2011). The theory is based on the view that an organization is defined by the collective characteristics of employees. Besides, it depicts that an employee gets attracted to the organization at first before making an application (Santrock, 2008). The attraction is stimulated by congruency between personal values and values of the organization, and thus the attraction process stimulates the candidates’ confidence before making a formal job application (Sigelman & Rider, 2014).

The candidate then goes through the selection process. At this stage, the organization has measures that help to determine the suitability of candidates by considering person-environment fitness (Santrock, 2008). The goal is to screen candidates whose values are compatible with the organization and taking them through the orientation process (Andrews et al., 2011).

Once hired, the theory states that an employee goes through the attrition stage. At this stage, an employee weighs the level of satisfaction to establish fitness in the workplace (Andrews et al., 2011). The unfitting employee is highly likely to feel unsatisfied and thus s/he will make many errors in the workplace. Such an employee leaves the job at will or s/he is forced to quit at times (Santrock, 2008). Those who do not leave are found to work homogenously hence resulting in high levels of satisfaction due to good person-environment fitness.

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On the other hand, the social cognitive theory states that human behaviors are highly determined by social environments whereby a person acquires new personalities by imitating models. The theory emphasizes the human personalities whereby people tend to copy behaviors of those they admire in a social phenomenon (Andrews et al., 2011). As mentioned earlier, personality is an essential factor that contributes to the success of organizations. From the attraction-selection-attrition theory, employee fitness in an organization is highly determined by the congruency between the organization and personal values. On the other hand, the social cognitive theory holds that personality is developed to fulfill the psychological needs of feelings, emotions, and desires (Mcshane & Glinow, 2015).

Psychologists argue that human life is driven by emotions of pain and pleasure (Mark et al., 2011). Hence, human beings value things based on consequential pain and pleasure and thus the social cognitive theory is essential for the development of personality and human values. Human beings find satisfaction in a social environment where there is a high level of pleasure (Andrews et al., 2011). On the contrary, they find themselves unfit in environments that make them experience high levels of pain. Hence, social cognitive theory plays a major role in the attrition process where people value experience to establish their fitness in the attraction-selection-attrition theory (Sigelman & Rider, 2014).

The social cognitive theory states that effective learning most likely occurs when there is a close relationship between the model and the learner. However, psychologists emphasize that social learning is most effective where there is effective social-efficacy (Santrock, 2008). Social-efficacy is the confidence that a person has about mastering a particular skill or behavior. It plays a major role in determining the level of human motivation, affection, and willingness to take action. Therefore, to learn, there has to be motivation and affection, which then leads a person into taking action (Sigelman & Rider, 2014).

It suffices to conclude that the social cognitive theory is motivated by human desires to accomplish pleasure and satisfaction in a social phenomenon. However, in a workplace, an employee is highly likely to imitate people in higher positions such as managers. Hence, upon hiring, an employee establishes a social network according to his/her personality based on fitness brought about by the attraction-selection-attrition theory (Sigelman & Rider, 2014). Additionally, the desire for pleasure makes the employee establish models in the work environment and imitate them while motivated by self-efficacy in the social cognitive theory. Therefore, the two theories go hand in hand in the development of personalities and satisfaction in an organization (Mcshane & Glinow, 2015).

On the other hand, the two theories have various similarities. First, both theories are motivated by satisfaction. The attraction-selection-attrition theory is motivated by human values that must be congruent with those of the organization for the employee to establish the level of fitness in an organization (Mark et al., 2011). Upon realizing that those values are congruent, an employee feels satisfied and motivated to give the best in an organization (Mcshane & Glinow, 2015). Similarly, the social cognitive theory is motivated by pleasure and pain whereby a person values the consequential benefits that accrue from learning particular behaviors.

Second, both theories change human personalities. The attraction-selection-attrition theory is attributed to values, and thus human personalities are changed to match those required in an organization (Andrews et al., 2011). The social cognitive theory allows a person to acquire a different personality after imitating a model. The two theories improve human values and personalities hence enabling a person to become a valuable employee in an organization (Santrock, 2008). Nevertheless, the two theories are independent of each other.

A person may apply the two theories simultaneously in the workplace (Mark et al., 2011). However, the attraction-selection-attrition theory is more important than the social cognitive theory. The former applies to everybody regardless of human character and personality. The latter does not apply to individuals who have high self-esteem and independence (Mcshane & Glinow, 2015).

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Employees apply for a job after establishing that that vacancy would bring some satisfaction. Moreover, the workplace would be attractive if there were enough room for matching human and organizational values (Andrews et al., 2011). The social cognitive theory is driven by the desire to experience pleasure after acquiring a particular personality. In most cases, that personality should be a replica of the models in a social environment (Mcshane & Glinow, 2015).

However, some individuals are independent, they value their personality, and thus they cannot imitate others to have social satisfaction (Andrews et al., 2011). Hence, the attraction-selection-attrition theory is more dominant amongst people than the social cognitive theory. Therefore, personality in organizations is highly dependent on both the attraction-selection-attrition and social cognitive theories (Mark et al., 2011). Additionally, the two theories are important for enhancing success in an organization as they establish interpersonal relations amongst the employees (Santrock, 2008).


Andrews, M., Baker, T., & Hunt, T. (2011). Values and person–organization fit: Does Moral intensity strengthen outcomes. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 32(1), 5-19.

Mark, M., Donaldson, S., & Campbell, B. (2011). Social Psychology and Evaluation. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Mcshane, S., & Glinow, M. (2015). Organizational Behavior. New York. NY: McGraw-Hill.

Santrock, J. (2008). A Topical Approach to Lifespan Development. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Sigelman, C., & Rider, E. (2014). Life-Span Human Development. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

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