The dimensions and mechanisms of mindfulness in regulating aggressive behaviors

Lindie H. Liang, Douglas J. Brown, D. Lance Ferris, Samuel Hanig, Huiwen Lian, Lisa M. Keeping

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

On the basis of the notion that the ability to exert self-control is critical to the regulation of aggressive behaviors, we suggest that mindfulness, an aspect of the self-control process, plays a key role in curbing workplace aggression. In particular, we note the conceptual and empirical distinctions between dimensions of mindfulness (i.e., mindful awareness and mindful acceptance) and investigate their respective abilities to regulate workplace aggression. In an experimental study (Study 1), a multiwave field study (Study 2a), and a daily diary study (Study 2b), we established that the awareness dimension, rather than the acceptance dimension, of mindfulness plays a more critical role in attenuating the association between hostility and aggression. In a second multiwave field study (Study 3), we found that mindful awareness moderates the association between hostility and aggression by reducing the extent to which individuals use dysfunctional emotion regulation strategies (i.e., surface acting), rather than by reducing the extent to which individuals engage in dysfunctional thought processes (i.e., rumination). The findings are discussed in terms of the implications of differentiating the dimensions and mechanisms of mindfulness for regulating workplace aggression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-299
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume103
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant 71771133) awarded to Lindie H. Liang, and the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Grant 435-2014-0353) awarded to Douglas J. Brown. We acknowledge Raina Armstrong, Judit Szabo, Jiao Tang, and Qi Qiao for their assistance with data collection. We also thank the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Florida and the Department of Leadership and Organization Management at Tsinghua University for their helpful comments on previous versions of this article. A version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management Conference in 2015.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Psychological Association.

Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Self-control
  • Workplace aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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