Being sensitive to positives has its negatives: An approach/avoidance perspective on reactivity to ostracism

D. Lance Ferris, Shereen Fatimah, Ming Yan, Lindie H. Liang, Huiwen Lian, Douglas J. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Workplace mistreatment is typically conceptualized as being exposed to a negative stimulus – for example, a threat, verbal abuse, or other forms of harassment. Consequently, we expect workplace mistreatment will have the greatest effect on individuals who are sensitive to the presence and absence of negative stimuli – or those with a strong avoidance temperament. Although this may be the rule for most mistreatment constructs, we argue that ostracism may be the exception. Using an approach/avoidance framework to highlight unique elements of ostracism, we build on the definition of ostracism as being the absence of an expected positive stimulus (i.e., social interaction that is withheld) to argue ostracism should have the greatest impact on those who are sensitive to the presence and absence of positive stimuli – or those with a strong approach temperament. Across a scenario study, a study of student teams, and a field study, we found that a strong approach temperament exacerbated the effects of ostracism on citizenship behaviors, while a strong avoidance temperament did not. Implications for the ostracism and mistreatment literatures are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-149
Number of pages12
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume152
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by a grant from the Smeal College of Business to the first author, a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (project number: 71772076 ) to the third author, and a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to the sixth author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • Approach
  • Avoidance
  • Organizational citizenship behaviors
  • Ostracism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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