Thursday, July 5, 2012


Preview Questions

What is the role of negative altruism in Atc? 

In experimental economics, behavioral psychologists use games to test simulated issues of social interactions in the workplace, such as altruism and reciprocity. I hope to try these games on controllers at some future time. It is difficult to quantify behavior in a social context. Experimental economics  help us understand the ecology of working with each other and the psychoeconomic impact of the job upon individual preferences. In the context of Atc, altruistic behaviors are mainly cooperation, coworker support, free-riding or skating, overconfidence and risk perception; behaviors that atcos manifest as expressions of concern to varying degrees for the welfare of others.

In the last post, I noted that negative altruism in Atc acts as a motivational bias towards an atco's perception of well-being. How so? Well, just as how we have a literal market where we can go to get more food items, we also have a market at the workplace where we can increase or decrease our well-being. The vendors in this symbolic market are our fellow atcos that we work with.  Senior atcos are the most powerful vendors. Why is this so?

Senior Atcos exert the most social influence on the communal perception of the working environment like popular vendors in a market

In a literal market, the vendors with the most customers are usually those who have been vending in that market for many years. The analogy in the workplace is similar. According to the principles of social interaction, senior atcos are like the popular market vendors and the seniority of our fellow atcos by way of experience are prized goods. This puts them in a favorable position to exert the most influence on the communal perception of the working environment.

As we work together our individual preferences are automatically and unavoidably affected by the social impact of our co-workers, particularly our senior peers. If our co-workers are dissatisfied with several organizational aspects of Atc, there will be a net negative psychological impact upon our well-being. Expressed simply, in an ecological atmosphere where dissatisfaction with several aspects of Atc prevails, controllers will conform to the surrounding negativity (practical adaptation from microeconomic principlesZanella,2004).

We become part of the group in our workplace by conforming to social preferences which are also known as bridging the gaps between individual behavior and co-worker behavior.     

This can be explained in another way. What is your favorite perfume? The distinguishing scent of each perfume is actually a melange of scents that parfumeurs call notes. It is the same with well-being in Atc. Individual well-being is like the melange of notes that characterise our favorite perfume. There are the top light notes of a parfum that we initially smell. Then there are the heavier notes that blend with our body scent to produce a unique odour. It is possible for several persons to wear the same parisian fragrance and yet smell differently. The effect of our peers upon  our individual well-being is like the effect of heavy notes of exquisite parfum.

Individual well-being in Atc can be compared to exquisite parisian fragrances with heavy notes that blend with  our body odour to produce a unique scent
To reiterate: wages are important motivators for Atcos. Inequality of wages in Atc are acting more as deterrents to well-being for middle to senior controllers and as disincentives to future lifetime expectations of junior controllers. We need empirics to concretize this statement. Is there anything that we can use as a proxy to qualify the motivational biases of wage inequalities and negative altruism? How can we deal with this organizational irregularity? I will answer in the next post...

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