ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (7): 1307-1318.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2018.01307

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An analysis of the reverse mechanism how the victim turn into an instigator on workplace incivility

YAN Yu(), LI Tong   

  1. Department of Psychology, School of Philosophy, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
  • Received:2017-06-20 Online:2018-07-15 Published:2018-05-29
  • Contact: YAN Yu


We reviewed and summarized organizational events that can potentially affect how victims of workplace incivility become instigators, including supervisor inaction, supervisor incivility, and coworker incivility. Based on the event system theory, we explained the cognitive process through which victims of workplace incivility become instigators. Specifically, if organizational events are strong enough to influence victims’ controlled information processing, the victims might change their original behavioral pattern and engage uncivil behaviors. Based on the social information processing theory, victims’ controlled information processing includes three different paths, including social learning, attribution, and moral judgment. We suggest future studies explore the role of other factors in the process of transmission from victims of workplace incivility to instigators, such as emotion, cognition, and factors outside the workplace. Daily diary method can be used to examine these processes. Furthermore, we encourage researchers to explore how witnesses of workplace incivility might also become instigators.

Key words: workplace incivility, event system theory, social learning, attribution, moral judgment

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