A major area of research in the realm of Industrial/Organizational Psychology is the exploration of specific job performance behaviors such as organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs). However, there is a dearth of research examining how peers react to OCBs and the performers of such behaviors. Bolino noted that determining how people attribute motives to these OCBs is an important yet unanswered question in industrial/organizational psychology. The present study attempted to provide insight on what observer (or rater) traits affect the motives attributed to organizational citizenship behaviors. In particular, the effects of personality traits such as the Big Five personality factors, self-monitoring, individualism-collectivism, negative affectivity and identity factors such as cultural mistrust, ethnic orientation, and perceived similarity were examined. A within-subjects survey design was used to collect data on six hypothetical organizational citizenship behaviors from a sample of 369 participants. The gender and ethnicity of the individuals performing the hypothetical organizational citizenship behaviors were manipulated (i.e., male or female; African-American, Hispanic, or White).
Results indicated that both similarity (t(368)=5.13; p .01) and personality factors (R2 =.06 for genuine motives and R2 = .05 for self-serving motives) had an effect on which motive (genuine or self-serving) was attributed to organizational citizenship behaviors. Support was found for an interaction between similarity and the observer's personality trait of conscientiousness when attributing genuine motives to organizational citizenship behaviors. Finally, specific organizational citizenship behaviors such as altruism were linked to genuine motives while OCBs like conscientiousness, sportsmanship, and civic virtue were associated with self-serving motives.