While there is accumulating evidence to suggest that workplace incivility can have myriad harmful effects on those who experience and witness it, it remains unclear how instigated incivility affects perpetrators. Studying instigated incivility by combining the literatures on self-perception theory and affect as information theory, we posit that instigated incivility may be harmful to perpetrators, and not just to its victims.
Specifically, we propose that perpetrators suffer from negative affective reactions to their own bad behavior, and that these negative reactions may persist and increase subsequent uncivil behavior. To explore the effects of instigated incivility on perpetrators, we conducted an experience sampling study, surveying employees three times per day for 10 consecutive workdays.
We found that on days that employees engage in more instigated incivility they experience greater high arousal negative affect, and that this high arousal negative affect spills over to the following morning and causes employees to experience more workplace incivility from their peers, as well as report behaving more uncivil toward others. We also found that the relationship between morning high arousal negative affect and subsequent instigated incivility is weaker for women, suggesting better emotional regulation to the negative morning affect. We discuss theoretical and practical implications.
Research Team: Cooper, B., De Pater, I., Foulk, T. & Erez, A.
Current Status: Manuscript in Writing, Target Journal - Journal of Applied Psychology