ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (1): 72-82.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.00072

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Effects of overqualification on employees’ organizational citizenship behavior: From the perspective of emotion

CHEN Yingyuan1,2; ZOU Zhimin1; PAN Junhao1   

  1. (1 Department of Psychology, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China) (2 Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310028, China)
  • Received:2016-01-18 Published:2017-01-25 Online:2017-01-25
  • Contact: ZOU Zhimin, E-mail:


Overqualification, as a global labor force phenomenon, has received increasing attention from researchers over the past few decades. Although overqualification can be measured objectively by using the match between one’s education or experience level and the requirements of the job position, more researchers pay attention to employees’ perception of this mismatch, named as perceived overqualification (POQ). Previous research on POQ primarily focused on its negative consequences on employees’ job attitudes and their in-role behaviors (e.g., job performance), but only few studies have examined the relationship between POQ and extra-role behavior (e.g., organizational citizenship behavior). It seems that employees who feel overqualified may have extra energy and thus will have more opportunities to help co-workers and organization, however, empirical evidence in this domain is lacking. Building on the person-job fit theory, the appraisal theory of emotion, the emotion- centered model, and the emotion regulation theory, this research tested the predicted effects of POQ on organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) via the role of anger at job and the moderating effects of two emotion regulation strategies (reappraisal and suppression) on these relationships. Data were collected from 534 full-time employees from diverse occupations in China. Employees completed a paper-and-pencil survey at their convenience and returned the completed surveys to the researcher. The questionnaire included measures for POQ, OCB, anger for job arrangement, and emotion regulation. Results from confirmatory factor analysis supported the construct validity of scales, and the Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for the above measures were satisfactory, ranging from 0.65 to 0.95. Consistent with our theoretical framework, results from hierarchical regression analysis revealed that POQ had both direct and indirect effects on employee’ OCB. Furthermore, anger toward job arrangement mediated the relationship between POQ and OCB, in which higher POQ led to stronger anger toward job arrangement, which in turn led to few OCB. The results also supported the moderating role of different emotional regulation strategies on the relations between POQ and anger at job as well as the relations between POQ and OCB. Reappraisal, an antecedent-focused strategy that involves reframing events in order to alter their emotional impact, buffered the relations between POQ and anger/OCB, whereas suppression, a response-focused strategy that involves inhibiting emotion-expressive behavior, strengthened the relations between POQ and anger/OCB. In conclusion, from a theoretical perspective, the current research provides empirical evidence in explaining why POQ leads to less OCB through an affective path. The finding further highlights the important moderating role of individual difference in emotion regulation strategies during the process. Additionally, given the current findings, the research has some important practical implications. For example, the research revealed that the fact that POQ resulted in lower levels of OCB was possibly because of the anger emotion at job. This suggests that managers should give attention to employees’ emotions in workplace. Considering the buffering effects of reappraisal strategy on the relation between POQ and negative emotions, the results provide useful cues for managers to design training on emotion regulation for employees to help them dealing with their emotions so as to achieve their full potential.

Key words: perceived overqualification, organizational citizenship behaviors, anger, emotion regulation, suppression, reappraisal