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Industrial & Organisational : Introduction : Personnel : Organizational psychology : Occupations: Work environment: Index : Outline

The Least Preferred co-worker Scale (LPC) is an instrument for measuring an individual’s leadership orientation. The LPC scale asks a leader to think of all the persons with whom he or she has ever worked, and then to describe the one person with whom he or she worked the least well with. From a scale of 1 through 8, leader are asked to describe this person on a series of bipolar scales such as those shown below:

Unfriendly 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Friendly
Uncooperative 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Cooperative
Hostile 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Supportive
.... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ....
Guarded 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Open

The responses to these scales (usually 18-25 in total) are summed and averaged: a high LPC score suggests that the leader has a human relations orientation, while a low LPC score indicates a task orientation. Fiedler assumes that everybody's least preferred coworker in fact is on average about equally unpleasant. But people who are indeed relationship motivated, tend to describe their least preferred coworkers in a more positive manner, e.g., more pleasant and more efficient. Therefore, they receive higher LPC scores. People who are task motivated, on the other hand, tend to rate their least preferred coworkers in a more negative manner. Therefore, they receive lower LPC scores. So, the Least Preferred Coworker (LPC) scale is actually not about the least preferred worker at all, instead, it is about the person who takes the test; it is about that person's motivation type. This is so, because, individuals who rate their least preferred coworker in relatively favorable light on these scales derive satisfaction out of interpersonal relationship, and those who rate the coworker in a relatively unfavorable light get satisfaction out of successful task performance. This method reveals an individual's emotional reaction to people with whom he or she cannot work. Critics point out, that this is not always an accurate measurement.

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