Author: Li, Diwan
Title: Helping or ostracizing? Employee responses to coworker anxiety expression
Advisors: Liu, Wu (MM)
Bai, Feng (MM)
Degree: M.Phil.
Year: 2021
Subject: Work -- Psychological aspects
Emotions -- Social aspects
Organizational behavior
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Management and Marketing
Pages: 96 pages : illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: This study focuses on how and when employees react to coworkers' anxiety expression. While the detrimental effects of employee anxiety have been widely established from the intrapersonal perspective in anxiety literature, this study challenge this consensus by proposing that coworker anxiety expression can elicit observer's both beneficial and detrimental outcomes. As employees have ample interactions with each other in the organization, they may react in a different manner to others' anxiety expression temporarily. From the observer-centric perspective, this study is aimed to explore the possible implications of coworker anxiety expression in the workplace. According to the social functional view of emotion (Keltner et al., 2003), I examined the social affiliative function and social distancing function of coworker anxiety expression in terms of (1) the mediating role of observer's perspective taking between coworker anxiety expression and observers' task-focused helping behavior and person-focused helping behaviors; (2) the mediating role of observer's perceived incompetence between coworker anxiety expression and observer's ostracizing behavior; (3) the moderator of rivalry that shapes the effect of coworker anxiety expression on perspective taking and perceived incompetence. I conducted a field survey in Mainland China and used an experience sampling method. The sample consisted of 140 employees with 1118 day-level data. The rivalry was measured at the baseline survey, which was conducted one week before the daily survey. The daily survey lasted in 10 workdays. In each mid-day survey, coworker anxiety expression, perspective taking, and perceived incompetence were measured; in each end-of-day survey, task-focused, person-focused helping, and ostracizing behaviors were measured. The results demonstrated that coworker anxiety expression was positively related to observer's perspective taking, which in turn leaded to task-focused and person-focused helping; coworker anxiety expression was positively related to observer's perceived incompetence, which in turn yielded ostracizing behavior; rivalry weakened the positive relationship between coworker anxiety expression and perspective taking whereas strengthened the positive relationship between coworker anxiety expression and perceived incompetence. This study contributes to the existing literature by focusing on coworker anxiety expression and investigate its implications.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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