Rudeness and Team Performance

Jan 1, 2023 12:00 AM

A growing body of research shows that rudeness negatively affects individual functioning and performance. Considerably less is known about how rudeness affects team processes and outcomes. In a series of six studies aimed at extending theories of the social-cognitive implications of rudeness to the team level, we show that rudeness is detrimental to team functioning. Using an experimental design, Study 1 shows that teams encountering rudeness perform worse than other teams. Study 2, a field study, replicates these results and shows that rudeness experienced during real-time surgeries is associated with the occurrence of adverse surgical events. Study 3, a medical simulation study, explains this effect by showing that medical teams exposed to rudeness are less likely than other teams to share information and workload, and in turn, execute a variety of medical procedures less well. Studies 4a and 4b highlight the mediating role played by social value orientation (SVO), demonstrating that rudeness elicits these effects by diminishing members SVO. In turn, Study 5 shows that rudeness-diminished SVO explains reduced information sharing in teams. Finally, Study 6, a simulation study, tests a full serial mediation model, demonstrating that rudeness decreases members’ SVO, which in turn, reduces teams’ information sharing, and as a result, encumbers team performance. Overall, these findings show that rudeness can have severe implications for team functioning and may even have life threatening consequences.

Research Team: Gale, J. P., Erez, A., Bamberger, P., Foulk, T. A., Cooper, B., Riskin, A., Schilpzand, P., & Vashdi, D.

Current Status: 3rd round R&R, Journal of Applied Psychology

Binyamin (Benny) Cooper
Binyamin (Benny) Cooper
Assistant Professor

My research explores how communicators and receivers navigate difficult conversations in the workplace.