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Can employees be emotionally drained by witnessing unpleasant interactions between coworkers?: a diary study of induced emotion regulation

Totterdell, Peter, Hershcovis, M. Sandy, Niven, Karen, Reich, Tara C. and Stride, Chris (2012) Can employees be emotionally drained by witnessing unpleasant interactions between coworkers?: a diary study of induced emotion regulation. Work and Stress, 26 (2). pp. 112-129. ISSN 0267-8373

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate whether employees experience emotional drain when they witness unpleasant interactions between coworkers. This was tested in a sample of staff in a UK hospital department, which included nurses, doctors, specialists and administrative staff. The study used a diary method in which participants recorded their reactions to over 1000 interpersonal interactions between coworkers across 15 work days. Multilevel analyses indicated that staff felt significantly more emotionally drained after witnessing unpleasant interactions compared to pleasant ones. This effect was mediated both by what the staff felt in response to what they witnessed and by the extent to which they controlled their feelings. Staff felt more emotionally drained when they took the perspective of the target to a greater extent and when they witnessed interactions directly (first-hand) rather than indirectly (hearsay). Witnesses appear to be vulnerable to emotional depletion because they experience an affective reaction and self-regulate their own emotional response to what they have seen or heard. This third-party effect on the witnesses of unpleasant interactions has the potential not only to have a negative effect on the individual but to pervade the organisation.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/action/aboutThisJournal...
Additional Information: © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Sets: Research centres and groups > Employment Relations and Organisational Behaviour Group
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2012 13:18
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/44437/

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