Not bad, just unhappy: diminished well-being as a motive for interpersonal deviance

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Markova, Gergana

Gergana Markova, (2018) "Not bad, just unhappy: diminished well-being as a motive for interpersonal deviance", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 39 Issue: 1, pp.66-81


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between diminished employee well-being and interpersonal deviance. Design/methodology/approach In a survey, 380 employees from 107 organizations were asked about their psychological and social well-beings. Participants reported their experiences of irritation, depression and anxiety for psychological well-being. A modified scale of social well-being captured participants' scores on social integration and social acceptance. Respondents also self-reported incidents of interpersonal deviance against coworkers. Findings The results demonstrate that only irritation, not depression or anxiety, was positively related to interpersonal deviance. Socially accepting individuals were less likely to engage in deviant acts against their coworkers. Furthermore, respondents scoring high on both neuroticism and depression were reporting more acts of interpersonal deviance. Research limitations/implications Based on these findings, the role of intent in the study of workplace deviance is discussed. Practical implications The findings of this study suggest that diminished well-being can be a catalyst for other negative outcomes in the workplace. Management should be concerned with the affective state of employees as the experiences of one person may translate into experiences for others. Given the complexity of human experiences, decision makers in organizations should consider emotional state and experiences in developing practices for deviance prevention. Attention and intervention initiatives devoted to improving well-being and social health of employees might be more effective than discipline policies. Originality/value Deviant behaviors are often conceptualized as intentional acts. The findings of this research paper provide some evidence that factors other than harmful intend may motivate transgressions against coworkers.

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