Workplace Aggression

Workplace aggression is likely to reduce employee performance for at least two reasons. First, the stressor model suggests that organizational stressors, such as workplace aggression, may directly affect the cognitive and emotional resources of employees. The depletion of these resources leaves employees with less emotional and cognitive energy to focus on job performance. Victims of aggression may ruminate about the experience, or focus their energies on preventing, reducing, or avoiding continued aggression. Such cognitive activities leave fewer resources available for performance effectiveness. In addition, perceiving others to be angry, as is likely the case when someone displays aggression, can also deplete the mental resources of those around the employees, including the target. Research in the related areas of abusive supervision and workplace injustice supports the proposition that aggression is associated with lower levels of performance

In terms of interpersonal and organizational deviance, a growing body of research has argued that aggression begets aggression. Conflicts tend to begin with minor forms of aggression such as a verbal slight, and escalate into a spiral of increasingly intense forms of aggression. Andersson and Pearson suggest that a variety of factors may contribute to such escalation, including perceptions of interactional injustice by the target, feelings of negative affect, and desires to reciprocate the aggression. Indeed, considerable research in the areas of retaliation, revenge, aggression, and injustice has shown that targets of a transgression are likely to respond aggressively.

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