Who strikes back? A daily investigation of when and why incivility begets incivility

Christopher C. Rosen, Allison S. Gabriel, Joel Koopman, Russell E. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Scopus citations

Abstract

Incivility at work-low intensity deviant behaviors with an ambiguous intent to harm-has been on the rise, yielding negative consequences for employees' well-being and companies' bottom-lines. Although examinations of incivility have gained momentum in organizational research, theory and empirical tests involving dynamic, within-person processes associated with this negative interpersonal behavior are limited. Drawing from ego depletion theory, we test how experiencing incivility precipitates instigating incivility toward others at work via reduced self-control. Using an experience sampling design across 2 work weeks, we found that experiencing incivility earlier in the day reduced one's levels of self-control (captured via a performance-based measure of self-control), which in turn resulted in increased instigated incivility later in the day. Moreover, organizational politics-a stable, environmental factor- strengthened the relation between experienced incivility and reduced self-control, whereas construal level-a stable, personal factor-weakened the relation between reduced self-control and instigated incivility. Combined, our results yield multiple theoretical, empirical, and practical implications for the study of incivility at work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1620-1634
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume101
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Keywords

  • Construal level
  • Ego depletion
  • Experience sampling methodology
  • Incivility
  • Organizational politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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