Interpersonal relationships, emotions, and harming : the role of cooperative goals

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Interpersonal relationships, emotions, and harming : the role of cooperative goals

 

Author: Lam, Ka-fung Catherine
Title: Interpersonal relationships, emotions, and harming : the role of cooperative goals
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2009
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Work -- Psychological aspects
Emotions -- Social aspects
Organizational behavior
Department: Dept. of Management and Marketing
Pages: 210 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm.
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2342989
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/5683
Abstract: This study investigated how relationship quality in coworker dyads elicits interpersonal emotions (admiration, sympathy, envy, and contempt), which in turn trigger interpersonal harming behavior in teams, and at the same time, how this relationship-emotion-harming linkage is regulated by the team's cooperative goal (Model 1). Furthermore, I used social comparisons to explain why relationship quality is related to interpersonal emotions (Model 2). I examined the validity of the key constructs of the theoretical models using a sample of coworker dyads from a cosmetic company (Study 1). I tested the models using data from a sample of student teams (Study 2) and a sample of work teams from a telecommunication services company (Study 3). In both studies (Study 2 and Study 3), social relations analyses revealed that relationship quality was negatively related to interpersonal harming; positively related to admiration, sympathy, and envy; and negatively related to contempt. These effects of relationship quality on interpersonal emotions were especially strong in teams with a low cooperative goal and were mitigated in teams with a high cooperative goal. Under conditions of a high cooperative goal, good relationship quality induced admiration, which in turn suppressed interpersonal harming. In contrast, in teams with a low cooperative goal, poor relationship quality elicited contempt, which in turn triggered harming behavior. Aside from replicating the results in Study 2, Study 3 also confirmed that social comparisons mediated the link between relationship quality and emotions. In particular, upward assimilation (i.e., compared with a higher performer and perceiving a similar excellence) mediated the association between relationship quality and admiration; downward assimilation (i.e., compared with a lower performer and perceiving a similar fate) mediated the association between relationship quality and sympathy; and downward contrast (i.e., compared with a lower performer and perceiving that a similar fate is unlikely) mediated the association between relationship quality and contempt. However, upward contrast (i.e., compared with a higher performer and perceiving that a similar excellence is unlikely) did not mediate the association between relationship quality and envy. In addition, associations between relationship quality and social comparisons (upward assimilation, upward contrast, downward assimilation, and downward contrast) were buffered under conditions of a high cooperative goal. Specifically, these relationships were stronger under conditions of a low cooperative goal. Finally, I found that social comparisons mediated the interactive effects of relationship quality and cooperative goals on emotions. These results suggested that the extent to which good or poor work relationships in coworker dyads can stimulate social comparisons and interpersonal emotions among teammates, as well as the extent to which such emotions will be translated into harming behavior toward the focal members are dependent on the team's cooperative context. This research clarifies the mediating mechanism and processes that account for previously established relationship between social exchange quality and reciprocal behavior. I also shed light on how this relationship is shaped by the team's cooperative goal.

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