Several Definitions Of Good Job Satisfaction Psychology Essay

When we use the phrase “job satisfaction” it means one’s positive feelings and thinking about his job. It includes his feelings about all the aspects of the job such as monetary aspects like salary and earnings and also mentally aspects like the environment of the job, coworkers behavior, the social level of the job and things like that. An employee might be satisfied with one aspect and be dissatisfied or be indifferent with another aspect. For example, someone may be very satisfied with the job environment, but his salary may not satisfy him. His reaction in this situation depends on the importance of each aspect for him and the overall satisfaction of his job.

In the following of this context I’m presenting several definitions of job satisfaction, several models it and suggesting how to increase the job satisfaction of the employees according to literature.

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Definition of job satisfaction

Many studies have done in this area and there are several definitions of job satisfaction which each focus on some aspects of job satisfaction.

According to Smith et al. (1975), job satisfaction means “the perceived characteristics of the job in relation to an individual’s frames of reference. Alternatives available in given situations, expectations, and experience play important roles in providing the relevant frame of reference”. Locke (1976) explained job satisfaction as “. . . a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experiences”. Cranny, Smith, and Stone (1992) explained job satisfaction as ”an affective (that is, emotional) reaction to one’s job, resulting from the incumbent’s comparison of actual outcomes with those that are desired (expected, deserved, and so on.)”. Brief & Weiss (2001) defined job satisfaction as “a pleasurable emotional state resulting from the evaluation from performance”. Robert Dailey (2003) in his book mentioned job satisfaction as “a function of employee perceptions of events at work”. He classifies job satisfaction in four groups, “1) satisfaction with the work itself, 2) satisfaction with pay, 3) satisfaction with fellow workers, 4) satisfaction with supervision and 5) satisfactions with promotions”.

The attitude of an employee to his job is a spectrum, which job satisfaction is one of its ends, the other is job dissatisfaction. For years, the phrase job satisfaction described as not being dissatisfied or lack of dissatisfaction. It means for measuring whether an employee is satisfied with his job, they examine if he has any dissatisfaction signal or not; and if he didn’t have any, they described him as a satisfied employee.

But nowadays this isn’t agreed. And they think one may be satisfied with his job or unfortunately he may be dissatisfied with that or may be not satisfied with his job which means he isn’t neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with his job and has an ignorant sense to it. For all of these conditions the manager and organizational behavior consultants must plan and decide differently.

In the literature which I reviewed there were several definitions for job dissatisfaction like the definition of (Locke, 1969): “Job dissatisfaction is the unpleasurable emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job as frustrating or blocking the attainment of one’s values”.

Importance of job satisfaction

Job satisfaction is important because it affects one’s performance and productivity and his responsibility manner, one’s absenteeism and turnover and also customer satisfaction. In addition it affects an individual’s experience of work or quality of working life, general well-being, stress at work and out of work life, working conditions, home-work interface, his.

For years, it has been argued that if satisfied personnel have better performance or not. Another challenging issue is if performance causes job satisfaction or vice versa, job satisfaction causes the performance.

Models of job satisfaction

Some believe that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory is the foundation of job satisfaction theory. Maslow explained that people seek to gain five specific goals or needs in their life. These needs as the below figure are physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, self-esteem needs, and self-actualization. Each person depending on his level in private life, social life and work life wants to satisfy one of these needs.

Although this theory was a good basis for researchers but didn’t mention the dynamics of the needs and probable changes in them. There are other models of human needs that completed this theory such as ERG Theory, Motivator-Hygiene Theory, McClelland’s Learned Needs.

There are several job satisfaction models, such as Affect theory, Dispositional Theory, Two-Factor Theory (Motivator-Hygiene Theory) and Job Characteristics Model. In the following, I’ll briefly explain each.

Affect Theory:

Edwin A. Locke’s theory is called Affect theory and presented in 1976; he determined satisfaction by a discrepancy between what one wants in a job and what one has in a job. In this theory if one value any facet of his work, this moderates how satisfied or dissatisfied one becomes when expectations are or aren’t met. For example if one employee value the social image of the organization and another employee is indifferent with it, this shows that increasing in social image of organization has a positive effect of this employee job satisfaction and has no effect on second employee job satisfaction.

Dispositional Theory

This theory stated that people have innate dispositions that regardless of their jobs, cause them to have inclination toward a specific level of satisfaction. This theory explained that job satisfaction tends to be stable in jobs over time.

Core Self-evaluations Model

There is another theory named Core Self-evaluations Model which narrowed the scope of Dispositional theory. Core Self-evaluations Model introduced by Judge, Locke, and Durham (1997). This theory represents that people make positive or negative evaluations about their capabilities and competence. Judge et al. identified three main self evaluative traits: self-esteem, generalized self-efficacy, and neuroticism. Judge et al (2005) cited that “Although the core self-evaluations concept has been related to several criteria including motivation, job performance, stress and leadership – the most commonly investigated criterion is job satisfaction”. They also mentioned that according to previous studies there is a relationship between core self-evaluations and job satisfaction and employees with a positive self-regard are more satisfied with their jobs.

Two-Factor Theory (Motivator-Hygiene Theory)

In 1968 Frederick Herzberg introduced his Two-Factor Theory of satisfaction. This theory is also named Motivator – Hygiene Theory. He stated that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are caused by various factors-motivation and hygiene factors. Motivating factors of the job are those aspects of the job that encourage people to work and make them satisfied. These factors are intrinsic and depend on the nature of the job. Hygiene factors include working conditions such as policies of the organization, payroll system (Herzberg, 1968).

He was the first one who introduced job satisfaction spectrum and noted that if someone doesn’t have dissatisfaction feelings about his job, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is satisfied with his job. Maybe he is indifferent to his job.

His theory is described in figure below:

This theory at least has five versions which introduced and explained in 1970 by king which are cited in Waters (1972). Hertzberg theory has been criticized in two major ways: first because it considers all employees reactions are the same, if any of Motivating and Hygiene factors is changed. And second, because it didn’t define how to measure Motivating and Hygiene factors.

Job Characteristics Model

Job Characteristics Model was proposed by Hackman & Oldham in 1976. In this model, there are five core dimensions for work, including skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback, three critical psychological states including experienced meaningfulness, experienced responsibility for outcomes, and knowledge of the actual results and finally work outcomes including satisfaction, absenteeism, work motivation, etc. they stated that “At the most general level, five “core” job dimensions are seen as prompting three psychological states which, in turn, lead to a number of beneficial personal and work outcomes.” The five core job’s dimensions are combined and form a score named MSP (Motivating Potential Score) for the job and show how job affect the employees behaviors.

They described their model as the figure shown below:

Core job Dimensions

Critical Psychological States

Personal Work outcomes

Skill Variety

Task Identity

Task Significance

Experienced Meaningfulness of the work

High Internal Work Motivation

High Quality Work Performance

High Satisfaction with the Work

Low Absenteeism and Turnover

Experienced Responsibility for Outcome of the Work

Knowledge of the Actual Results of the Work Activities



Employee Growth Need Strength

As cited in (GoA?tautaitA- & BuA?iA«nienA-2 ,2010) many meta-analysis of studies support the validity of this model such as Boonzaier, Ficker & Rust in 2001; Fried & Ferris in 1987 and Loher et al in 1985.

Measuring employees job satisfaction

There are several ways to measure employee’s job satisfaction like interview and questionnaire. There are several job satisfaction questionnaires like JDI, Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ), the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS), and the Faces Scale.


In 1969, Smith, Kendall, & Hulin, created JDI (Job Descriptive Index). It is a questionnaire that measures job satisfaction through asking questions from five facets of job: pay, promotions and promotion opportunities, coworkers, supervision, and the work itself. Employees answer the questions in Yes/No or can’t decide (which showed by ?).

Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire

Minnesota satisfaction questionnaire has two forms, long and short. The first has 100 questions (five questions for each facet of work) and the latter has 20 (one question for each facet of work).


The JSS is a questionnaire that by asking 36 questions measures nine facets of job satisfaction.

Faces Scale

The Faces Scale of job satisfaction measured overall job satisfaction by the picture chosen by the employee. Below is the picture of this questionnaire:

Job Stress

According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, in general stress, is “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation”. According to ISMA (International Stress Management Association UK) “Stress is an adverse response to what an individual perceives as too much pressure”.

Robbins & Judge(2009), declared stress as “a dynamic condition in which an individual is confronted with an opportunity, demand, or resource related to what the individual desires and for which the outcome is perceived to be both uncertain and important”. They believed that stress is not always a bad thing and may have positive effects. In their book they presented a model which categorized stressor factors in three groups: environmental, organizational, and personal potential stressors. According to NIOSH, “Job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury”.

Below are the results of some surveys about job stress which cited in NIOSH report:

Gholipour(2008) in his book reference to Hans Selye classification of stresses. He classifies stress as two groups: stresses which results in positive effects and stresses results in negative effects. This classification proves that all the stresses in life aren’t bad. Job responsibilities, job promotions and high performance are the results of good stresses.

Paying attention to all definitions, it’s clear that stress is not a action or situation, but it’s a reaction to an action which makes stress in human.


All organizations must pay attention to job stresses of the employees and the factors that make such feeling in employees. The managers’ policies and plans must strengthen positive stresses which increase job responsibility and make positive competition among employees. Of course they must pay much attention to negative job stressors by changing the work environment, defining better job policies, clarifying job speciation and so on to decrease the negative job stressors.

Strengthening job positive stressors affect the employees’ performance and in a causal loop, this performance may strengthen the other aspects of positive stressors. Gholipour(2008) stated some of these positive effects such as increasing in instigation and energizing.

Job negative stresses are the subject of this context and in the following when I use the word stress, it means job negative stresses. This stresses have bad effects on both the work life and personal life of the employees. Dailey (2003) in his book classifies job stress consequences in three groups: Behavioral symptoms, Psychological symptoms, Physiological symptoms.

Behavioral symptoms includes changing in job performance, absenteeism, quitting job, low morality, low performance, job dissatisfaction, changing in eating habits, smoking drugs and drinking alcohol and so on.

Physiological symptoms include increasing in heart rate, blood pressure and so on. “Psychological symptoms are major consequences of stress and they may appear before chronic physical problems or disease” Dailey (2003). Other effects of stress on mental health of employees in employees are Anger, anxiety, depression, nervousness, aggressiveness and etc.

Causes of job stress

As mentioned above there are several things which causes job stress such as, the characteristics of the employee, work conditions, work itself, interactions of the employee with the job. A certain job and work condition may create job stress in one employee but in another one it doesn’t have such negative effect. This shows the importance of employee characteristics versus working conditions.

Zohar(1994) noted that there are four different causes for job stress including conflict, role ambiguity, workload and decision-latitude.

In NIOSH report, several causes of job stress are introduced. These are the workplace factors that affect job stress of employees. These factors are the design of tasks, management style, interpersonal relationships, work roles, career concerns and environmental conditions. In this report for each category presented some detail as below:

The category of The Design of Tasks includes Heavy workload, long work hours and shift-work; not using workers’ skills, and provide little sense of control.

The category of Management Style includes Lack of participation of workers in decision- makings, weak communications in the organization.

The category of Interpersonal Relationships includes Poor social environment, behaviors of the coworkers and supervisors.

The category of Work Roles includes uncertain job expectations and too much responsibility.

The category Career Concerns includes Job insecurity and lack of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion and rapid changes for which workers are unprepared.

The category of Environmental Conditions includes Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems.

Dailey(2003) categorized stress factors as three main groups: environmental, organizational and individual factors. He divides each group into several sub-causes.

Environmental factors include Economic uncertainty, Political uncertainty, and Technological uncertainty.

Organizational factors include Task demands, Role demands, Interpersonal demands, Organizational structure, Organizational leadership, Organization’s life-cycle stage.

Individual factors include Family problems and Financial problems.

Job stress Models

Dailey (2003) stated that according to previous studies there are three main categories of job stress causes: environmental, organizational and individual factor. He divides each category into some sub-causes and presents following model as job stress model.

Williams & Cooper (1998) presented the model below for the stress process. In their model they show that sources of pressure in the workplace have different effects on people with different characteristics – named as individual differences – and create various effects.

There are several other job stress models like NIOSH model and Sainford Model.


NIOSH creates a model as the figure below in which it shows that in NIOSH view the working conditions has the main effect in feeling job stress. But the employee’s characteristics also affect this and may weaken or strengthen it.

Sainford Model

Sainford (1991) presented an integrated model which shows that job control is the main cause of stress outcomes. In his model he also shows that “the effects of perceived job demands, job content, and career/future concerns influence the stress outcomes only to the extent of their influence on job control”.

Measuring job stress

In order to decrease the job stress and subsequently its cases and consequences, the managers must measure the extent of job stress in their employees (or the individual, himself measurers his job stress and decide appropriately for the future of his work life). There are several job stress questionnaires which is used widely in studies such as job stress questionnaire provided by ISMA (International Stress Management Association UK), NIOSH job stress questionnare.

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