Aggression; retaliation; displaced aggression; withdrawal; problem-solving
The purpose of this dissertation is to explore employees' behavioral reactions to the perceived aggression of others. Perceived aggression is defined as behavior that is perceived to be intentionally harmful by the intended target. A typology is developed that identifies two primary dimensions of behavioral reaction: (1) the form of the behavior (aggression/non-aggression) and (2) the direction of the behavior (toward the source of the harm/not toward the source of the harm). Based on these dimensions, the typology produces four categories of behavioral reactions: retaliatory aggression, displaced aggression, constructive problem-solving, and withdrawal. A model is then presented, which identifies various factors that influence employees' reactions. The relationships are examined in two studies. The first study is a cross-sectional survey design, which investigates the reactions to perceived supervisor aggression and the moderating effects of various situational factors (fear of retaliation, aggressive modeling and absolute hierarchical status) and individual factors (trait anger and the need for social approval). The second study is a 2x2 experimental design that investigates the reactions to perceived aggression and the moderating effects of fear of retaliation and personality variables (trait anger, locus of control and the need for social approval). Participants of the experiment, 77 undergraduate students, were randomly assigned into conditions of perceived aggression (high/low) and fear of retaliation (high/low). Perceived aggression was manipulated through exam feedback and fear of retaliation was manipulated through anonymity of instructor evaluations. The results of both studies provide support for some of the predictions, as well as some contradictory findings. Conclusions are drawn from the theory, typology and findings of the studies, highlighting implications for future aggression and organizational behavior research.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Business Administration
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Mitchell, Marie, "Understanding Employees' Behavioral Reactions To Aggression In Organizations" (2006). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 848.