ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (5): 566-581.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2022.00566

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles    

Mindfulness and trust: How to prevent the compensatory abusive behaviors of the low-status supervisors?

MA Jun, ZHANG Rui()   

  1. School of Management, Shanghai University, Shanghai 200444, China
  • Published:2022-05-25 Online:2022-03-23
  • Contact: ZHANG Rui
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(71872111);the humanities and social sciences research planning fund of the Ministry of Education(16YJA630036)


The parallel system of position and rank enlarges the separation of power and status within the organization. The high position (power) without corresponding prestige (status) will limit leaders’ control in the workplace and potentially lead to adverse consequences. Based on the low-status compensation theory, this paper constructs a two-stage moderated mediation model and designs two studies to explore the negative leadership behavior induced by low-status leaders (i.e. leader with high power but lack of corresponding status) and its intervention mechanism. Study 1 revealed that leaders with inconsistent hierarchies are more inclined to implement abusive supervision than those with consistent hierarchies. Study 2 explored its causes, and found: (1) Leaders' ego-depletion mediates the relationship between low-status leader and abusive supervision; (2) The combination of leader mindfulness and trust from high-level leader can jointly and effectively moderate the mediation effect caused by ego-depletion. The research shows that the ego-depletion generated from low-status leaders to maintain their status is the crucial cause of abusive supervision. At the same time, the intensity of abusive supervision varies from person to person. Mindfulness and trust from high-level leader can help limit its spread as a means of bad compensation. The research extends the application of low-status compensation theory, and provides management implications for preventing the conflicts caused by the separation of power and status.

Key words: low-status leader, ego-depletion, abusive supervision, mindfulness, trust, low-status compensation