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Observer reactions to workplace mistreatment: it’s a matter of perspective

Reich, Tara C., Hershcovis, M. Sandy, Lyubykh, Zhanna, Niven, Karen, Parker, Sharon K. and Stride, Chris B. (2021) Observer reactions to workplace mistreatment: it’s a matter of perspective. Journal of occupational health psychology, 26 (5). 374 - 392. ISSN 1076-8998

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Identification Number: 10.1037/ocp0000205


Workplace mistreatment regularly occurs in the presence of others (i.e., observers). The reactions of observers toward those involved in the mistreatment episode have wide-reaching implications. In the current set of studies, we draw on theories of perspective-taking to consider how this form of interpersonal sensemaking influences observer reactions toward those involved in a witnessed incident of workplace mistreatment. We find that observers’ blame attributions and empathic concern for the individual whose perspective is taken explain the positive effects of perspective-taking on observer attitudes toward and performance evaluations of both the target and instigator of a witnessed incident of mistreatment. We also find that the effect of perspective-taking on observer reactions is stronger when the witnessed mistreatment is more severe. Finally, we find that although observer perspective-taking in the context of mistreatment can be encouraged, the effect seems to benefit instigators’ performance evaluations rather than targets’. Implications for targets, instigators, and organizations are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 American Psychological Association
Divisions: Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2022 15:30
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 16:24

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