Rudeness is commonly experienced at work and is known to negatively impact critical decision-making in multiple setting (e.g., procedural and diagnostic decision-making in medical diagnosis scenarios). However, the processes by which rudeness causes these cognitive errors is unclear.
We (Cooper, Giordano, Erez, Foulk, Reed & Berg, in press at the Journal of Applied Psychology) sought to explore the impact of rudeness on one of the major cognitive errors, namely anchoring, and test interventions that might mitigate its consequences. Across multiple studies we found that even minor rude events can cause negative arousal that severely interferes with individuals’ decision-making processes, anchoring physicians to a first incorrect diagnosis and negotiators to suboptimal results, and affecting quantitative judgment of targets.
Additionally, our work also explored several positive strategies, providing steps that organizations and employees can take to counteract these negative effects. Specifically, perspective-taking and information elaboration were shown to mitigate the destructive effects of rudeness on negative arousal and subsequent anchoring.