ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (5): 529-548.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2022.00529

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The double-edged sword of employee authenticity in coworker interactions: The moderating role of relationship duration

TANG Yipeng1, JIA Rongwen2, LONG Lirong3, REN Zhiyu1, PU Xiaoping4()   

  1. 1School of Business Administration, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan 430073, China
    2School of International Trade and Economics, University of International Business and Economics, Beijing 100029, China
    3School of Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430074, China
    4School of Management, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, China
  • Published:2022-05-25 Online:2022-03-23
  • Contact: PU Xiaoping
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(72132001);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(71802194);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(72101195);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(71832004);the humanities and Social Sciences Foundation of the Ministry of Education(19YJC630061)


It is generally believed that employee authenticity in the workplace helps employees to build good relationships with their coworkers. This study suggests that the effect of employee authenticity on coworker relationships is likely to be both positive and negative, and its effect depends on the relationship duration of employees and their coworkers. Based on social penetration theory and the literature of attribution, this study suggests that coworker suspicion and coworker trust are the key mediating mechanisms for employee authenticity to affect coworker relationships. To test the hypotheses of the theoretical model, two studies were conducted using a round-robin survey and an experimental method respectively. The results showed that under the condition of short relationship duration, employee authenticity triggers suspicion of coworkers while reducing coworkers’ trust, thus decreasing interpersonal help and increasing interpersonal exclusion. Under the condition of long relationship duration, employee authenticity helps to clarify coworker suspicion and enhance coworker trust, thus increasing interpersonal help and decreasing interpersonal exclusion. By introducing relationship duration as the moderator, this study found that the effect of employee authenticity on coworker relationships can be transformed from negative to positive after a sufficient period of relationship duration.

Key words: employee authenticity, coworker relationship duration, knowledge-based trust, suspicion of ulterior motives, interpersonal help, interpersonal exclusion