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Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 2009, Vol. 14, No.

1, 58 69

2009 American Psychological Association 1076-8998/09/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0012683

Investigating Individual Differences Among Targets of Workplace Incivility


Alex C. Milam, Christiane Spitzmueller, and Lisa M. Penney
University of Houston
The present study focused on individual differences in Big Five traits among targets of workplace incivility. The authors hypothesized a negative relation between agreeableness and incivility, a positive relation between neuroticism and incivility, and a negative relation between extraversion and incivility. The authors also hypothesized that provocative target behavior is the mediating force that drives these relations. Multisource data from a diverse sample of employees and their coworkers indicate that individuals low in agreeableness and those high in neuroticism experience more incivility than their counterparts. The mediation model was supported for agreeableness and neuroticism. Findings suggest that target traits are important components in incivility research, and should be considered in future research as well as in efforts to alleviate the consequences of incivility. Keywords: workplace incivility, personality, bullying, individual differences, counterproductive work behavior

One of the most prevalent counterproductive work behaviors studied is workplace incivility, a relatively minor form of interpersonal deviance (Robinson & Bennett, 1995). Workplace incivility has been found to be rather prevalent and detrimental for organizations and individuals. In their survey of court employees, Cortina, Magley, Williams, and Langout (2001) found that 71% of respondents reported some experience of uncivil behavior in a 5-year period. According to Johnson and Indvik (2001), targets of incivility take various responsive actions that can have negative effects on organizations, such as losing work time trying to avoid the instigator (28%), decreasing effort at work (22%), contemplating changing jobs to avoid the instigator (46%), and actually changing jobs to avoid the instigator (12%). Moreover, targets of incivility also report greater job dis-

satisfaction and psychological distress (Cortina et al., 2001). Although incivility research to date has focused on the characteristics of the instigators of such behavior, few researchers (Cortina & Magley, 2003) have examined whether target characteristics affect the experience of workplace incivility. However, incivility may be provoked by certain personality traits that are annoying, unusual, or bothersome. The present study investigates the role that Big Five personality traits play in individuals experiences and perceptions of workplace incivility. Specically, we propose that individuals who are low in agreeableness or high in neuroticism tend to provoke incivility from others, and that these provocative behaviors are the mediating force behind the incivility that these individuals experience.

Workplace Incivility
Alex C. Milam, Christiane Spitzmueller, and Lisa M. Penney, Department of Psychology, University of Houston. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2006 conference of the European Association of Occupational Health Psychology, Dublin, Ireland. We thank Vicki Magley, Stephanie Tobin, and three anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts of this paper. This paper is based on the rst authors M.A. thesis, under supervision of the second author. Support for this project was provided by a University of Houston GEAR Award to the second author. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Christiane Spitzmueller, Department of Psychology, University of Houston, 123 B Heyne Building, Houston, TX 77204-5022. E-mail: cspitzmueller@uh.edu; amilam3@uh.edu

Workplace incivility has been dened as lowintensity deviant behavior with ambiguous intent to harm the target, in violation of workplace norms for mutual respect. Uncivil behaviors are characteristically rude and discourteous, displaying a lack of regard for others (Andersson & Pearson, 1999, p. 452). Specically, workplace incivility manifests itself in the form of disrespect, condescension, degradation, and so forth (Burneld et al., 2004). Workplace incivility is distinct from other forms of counterproductive work behavior (CWB) in several ways. For example, CWB and interpersonal aggres58

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sion are dened as behaviors committed with the (unambiguous) intent to harm another (Baron, 2004; Neuman & Baron, 2005), whereas incivility is not necessarily intentional or malicious. Workplace incivility is generally milder than bullying or social undermining. Pearson, Andersson, and Porath (2005) argue that an important feature of workplace incivility is the potential spiral effect that occurs when negative behavior from one party is reciprocated by another party yielding a tit-for-tat exchange of increasingly uncivil actions. The recent interest in workplace incivility was prompted by its link to psychological strain experienced by targets of incivility. Cortina et al. (2001) found signicant, medium-sized correlations between experienced workplace incivility and satisfaction with work and job facets. Over time, the experience of workplace incivility may contribute to poor job attitudes and be the root of much of the malaise and job-related strain that many workers experience (Notelaers, Einarsen, De Witte, & Vermunt, 2006).

many researchers are reluctant to do so because the results may be misconstrued as blaming the victim. However, to get a complete picture of workplace incivility, the role that the target plays must be understood. Understanding victim or target characteristics aids in the understanding of the offending act. Although the traits of the target cannot explain the instigators behavior completely, they are nevertheless important and should not be ignored. The present study adds to the literature on workplace incivility by looking at self and coworker reports of targets personality traits and characteristics.

Investigating Self and Coworker Ratings of Personality Traits


In general, personality traits are viewed from one of two perspectives: the observers perspective or the self-perspective. The observers perspective is sometimes referred to as a persons public self or social reputation (Hogan, 1991). This perspective consists of behavioral manifestations of personality that would be reported by coworkers. In contrast, the self-perspective is a more private self, that Hogan and Shelton (1998) refer to as ones identity and consists of the cognitive processes that actually drive behavior, as well as ones goals and intentions. Although individuals may witness behavioral manifestations of personality, there are fewer visible clues of the cognitive manifestations of the private self to outside observers (Mount, Barrick, & Strauss, 1994). Therefore, Hogan and Shelton argue that public manifestations of ones personality may be an altogether different construct than ones private self. Indeed, Mount et al. found that observer and self-ratings of Big Five personality traits yield different predictive validities against various job-related criteria. In keeping with Hogans two-dimensional picture of personality, we argue that workplace events such as uncivil acts are inuenced by ones public and private selves, and that personality manifests in different ways depending on the public versus private percep1 Both of the Coyne et al studies used the ICES Personality Inventory. This inventory is a work-related instrument that assesses four main scales (independent, conscientiousness, extraversion, and stable) which closely map onto the Big Five personality traits. Specically, Bartram (1993) has demonstrated construct validity, using the 16PF scale, and has also asserted that the scale covers the same variance as the NEO (Bartram & Feltham, 1998). In drawing our conclusions, we inferred the nding of the Stable scale for the Big Five dimension of Neuroticism.

Individual Differences in Targets of Workplace Incivility


Studies conducted on trait-based constructs related to workplace incivility are scarce. In one of the few studies that has been conducted (Coyne, Seigne, & Randall, 2000), victimization in the workplace, also known as bullying, was related to low extraversion, high neuroticism, and high conscientiousness. The high neuroticism relation with bullying in the workplace was also found in a study by Coyne, Chong, Seigne, and Randall (2003). Both of the Coyne et al. studies provide a more complete picture of CWB by using peer reports for workplace bullying experiences. However, they did not procure peer ratings for personality traits, nor did they employ the commonly used Big Five framework, which is widely advocated as the most comprehensive framework for personality trait research.1 Further, workplace bullying is more severe, recurring, and involves an imbalance of power (Einarsen, 2000), which is not always the case with workplace incivility. Matthiesen and Einarsen (2001) found that workplace-bullying targets share a common cluster of personality traits, but used the MMPI-2, a measure for nonnormal personality. Bowling and Beehr (2006) suggest that investigating the personality traits of victims of workplace harassment is important in understanding the phenomenon of workplace harassment, but note that

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tion of the characteristic. Ones public self, or reputation, is dened by visible, outward behaviors that may be interpersonally provocative and contribute to workplace incivility experiences through provocation of uncivil acts. Ones private self, or identity, is less visible and less interpersonally provocative and would contribute to workplace incivility experiences via the perception of one being treated in an uncivil manner. Thus, to adequately assess the full picture of workplace incivility, we obtained ratings of target personality traits from both employee targets and their coworkers. Specically, we are interested in agreeableness, neuroticism, and extraversion because they represent the most visible of the Big Five traits.

of incivility, which we refer to as provocative behavior, and may indeed provide the impetus for much workplace incivility. Bernstein and Watson (1997) refer to provocation in their study of targets of childhood bullying. Extending behavior to workplace settings, provocative targets most likely continue to behave in ways that provoke uncivil behavior from others. Accordingly, there should be a negative relation between coworker-reports of agreeableness and targets experiences of workplace incivility. Hypothesis 1: There is a negative relation between agreeableness and workplace incivility. The private self-manifestation of neuroticism is marked by feelings of nervousness, worrying, and insecurity (Mount et al., 1994), which is closely related to negative affectivity (NA; Watson & Clark, 1984). According to Watson and Clark, individuals who are high in NA tend to be anxious, angry, sad, and guilty. As NA often affects ones mood, Affective Events Theory (AET; Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996) would predict that NA inuences how an individual interprets events such as incivility at work. Specically, Weiss and Cropanzano assert that individuals who are high in NA will have stronger reactions to negative events than individuals low in NA. Brief, Butcher, and Roberson (1995) found that even when presented with a positive mood-inducing event, individuals who are high in NA still report negative attitudes. Thus, an individual high in NA may perceive an innocuous comment or action by a coworker as threatening and in turn, respond in an uncivil manner. Others may see this response as contentious or confrontational, making the high-NA individual a provocative target. Individuals who identify themselves as high in neuroticism may have trouble handling small daily conicts because of their inability to exhibit the appropriate emotions when dealing with others. Diefendorff and Richard (2003) conducted a study on the role that various personality traits play in perceptions of emotional display rules. Display rules are the unwritten standards in a job that regulate the appropriate expression of emotion, rather than the actual feelings of an employee. Typically, jobs require employees to display positive emotions while suppressing negative emotion. However, Diefendorff and Richard found that individuals who are high in neuroticism are unaware of rules that demand displaying positive emotion, but are very aware that they are to suppress negative emotion in the workplace. There-

Personality Traits and Characteristics of Perceived Targets of Workplace Incivility


Agreeableness is associated with being forgiving, good-natured, cooperative, trusting, warm, sympathetic, and generous (McCrae & Costa, 1987). Although this conjures up images of a visible personality trait, the private perspective of agreeableness, which includes the motivating force that drives these agreeable behaviors, is also very important, particularly to an individuals well-being. McCrae and Costa (1991) found that individuals who are high in agreeableness experience more positive affect and generally have higher levels of well-being. Cognitively, individuals who are low in agreeableness are said to be mistrustful and skeptical (McCrae & Costa, 1987). Thus, they may be more likely to see workplace incivility even when it is not present. Accordingly, we expect that individuals who are low in selfreported agreeableness will report more instances of incivility than those who are high in agreeableness. McCrae and Costa (1987) found that behaviorally, individuals who are low in agreeableness tend to be uncooperative, stubborn, and rude. Thus, individuals who are low in coworker-reported agreeableness may actually provoke incivility that is committed toward them. Pearson, Andersson, and Wegner (2001) interviewed targets of workplace incivility and found that although revenge does not motivate incivility targets, responding to uncivil acts with general ill will is not uncommon. Pearson and her colleagues also indicate that incivility is often of the tit-for-tat variety (Pearson, Andersson, & Porath, 2005). We submit that following the Bies and Tripp (2005) denition, revenge is provoked when a goal is obstructed, when norms have been violated, or when status or power have been derogated. This denition of revenge actually ts the tit-for-tat type

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fore, the neurotic individual experiences a greater frequency of unpleasant events, some of which are simply ambiguous events interpreted as negative. He or she then reacts in a confrontational manner, which makes him or her a provocative target. According to AET, this would cause a temporary increase, or at least maintenance of the individuals magnitude of neuroticism, at least at the affective level, which would continue the cycle and the individual would likely become a frequent target of incivility. The public perspective of neuroticism may also contribute to workplace incivility. Behaviors associated with nervousness and insecurity (e.g., dgeting, nervous speech, excessive talking, ruminating aloud) may be viewed by others as unusual or bothersome, and may make the outwardly neurotic individual a provocative target of incivility. According to McCrae and Costa (1991), neurotic individuals have more daily hassles and fewer uplifts, and this may be because of the provocative nature of the public perspective of neuroticism. Hypothesis 2: There is a positive relation between neuroticism and workplace incivility. Extraversion should also have very different public and private characteristics. Although the public prole of an extravert describes one who is sociable, talkative, assertive, ambitious, and active (Mount et al., 1994), the private feeling of extraversion is described as being in search of excitement and having energy directed toward others (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Extraversion is also pertinent to the interpretation of coworkers actions as benign or malicious acts of incivility. Coyne et al. (2000) found that victims of workplace bullying were quiet and reserved, with a preference for quiet and familiar surroundings, suggesting low levels of extraversion. Extraverts enjoy spending their time and energy in activities that attract social attention (Ashton, Lee, & Paunonen, 2002). Thus, positive social interactions serve to enhance the extraverts well-being. Meyer and Shack (1989) reported that extraversion was highly correlated (.66) with positive affectivity (PA), a temperamental dimension of emotions that predisposes individuals to the mood states of joyfulness, interest, condence, and alertness (Watson & Clark, 1992). According to Watson and Clark, individuals high in PA perceive a greater frequency of pleasant events and even interpret neutral events in a pleasant light. Therefore, even if a high PA individual is truly the target of incivility, he or she may not perceive that

any type of uncivil act has occurred because he or she will have either not perceived the infraction or interpreted it in a pleasant light. As extraverts experience positive events more frequently and interpret neutral events in a positive light, we propose that individuals who are high in self-reported extraversion may not even notice when a breach of a social contract has occurred on behalf of a coworker, or at least they may not attach a negative meaning to such behavior. As extraverts tend to nd satisfaction with social interaction, it is in their best interest to make these interactions rewarding to the other party as well. Accordingly, extraverts tend to be better at networking and socializing in the workplace (Forret & Dougherty, 2001) and also form a larger number of friendships (Jensen-Campbell et al., 2002; Mallay, 1936). This indicates that individuals high in extraversion are less likely to provoke incivility than individuals low in extraversion, or at the very least, have more allies to protect them from such behavior. Hypothesis 3: There is a negative relation between extraversion and workplace incivility.

Provocative Behavior
Personality manifests itself in the form of various behaviors, and some of those behaviors may be seen as bothersome to others. In some instances, targets of incivility may actually provoke uncivil acts via their behavior at work. This is an important consideration when examining workplace incivility. We propose that the knowledge that behaviors and traits contribute to incivility is no less important than the knowledge that physical traits, such as a slight physique contributes to childhood bullying (Bernstein & Watson, 1997). Bernstein and Watson found that many targets of childhood bullying are actually provocative targets. That is, they unwittingly invite acts of aggression through their own behavior. Similarly, we believe that individuals may also unintentionally invite uncivil acts through their behavior, which is inuenced by their personality traits (Costa & McCrae, 1992). The provocation of others by ones personality traits may result in incivility because of goal obstruction or violation of social norms. Both outcomes lend themselves to some type of revenge. Although incivility is not primarily motivated by revenge (Pearson, Andersson, & Wegner, 2001), incivility may function as an initial step in a spiral of incivility that has revenge as its end point. Goal obstruction occurs when one party frustrates the other partys attainment

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of goals (Morrill & Thomas, 1992). This frustration can lead to vengeful responses (Neuman & Baron, 1997). Additionally, when individuals do invite uncivil acts toward others, a social contract is broken involving norms of respect (Pearson et al., 2005). Exchange relationships between coworkers exist because of many factors, including universal norms of reciprocity and belief in a just world. However, there appear to be individual differences with respect to how much we think we owe to others with respect to these implicit contracts, and perhaps this is when ones actions provoke incivility toward others. This social exchange creates strong bonds among individuals in the workplace, and when these contracts are violated, organizational norms are violated (Bies & Tripp, 1996). Thus, this violation of norms functions as both cause and symptom of workplace incivility. In the present case, we expect to nd that individuals who report experiencing frequent incidents of incivility are also identied by coworkers as provocative victims who are deserving of uncivil treatment. Therefore, we hypothesize that exhibiting provocative behaviors mediates the relation between ones personality traits and being the target of uncivil acts. Specically, we hypothesize that low levels of agreeableness, which may lead to arguments and disagreements, and high levels of neuroticism, which may lead to unusual social interactions (e.g., nervousness, ruminating aloud), would manifest themselves as behaviors that are perceived by others to be provocative, and that this provocation leads to acts of incivility toward the individual. We do not believe that extraversion leads to individuals being perceived as provocative targets. Thus, we do not propose a mediated relation between extraversion and incivility. Hypothesis 4: Being a provocative victim mediates the relation between agreeableness and incivility. Hypothesis 5: Being a provocative victim mediates the relation between neuroticism and incivility.

retail, health care, food service, education, nance, aerospace, real estate) and had been in their current job an average of 38 months. Average coworker tenure was 54 months. The participants were primarily female (82%), and racially and ethnically diverse. The coworker respondents were also primarily (66%) female, and similarly diverse. Sixty-three percent of the main participants reported only attending some college, 19% reported having an associates degree, and 11% reported having a bachelors degree.

Measures
All measures used a Likert-type response format asking participants to report level of agreement, with options ranging from 1 Strongly Disagree to 5 Strongly Agree. Incivility. Participants completed the 29-item incivility questionnaire developed by Burneld, Clark, Devendorf, and Jex (2004), which asks individuals to report their level of agreement with various statements about workplace incivility they experienced ( .93). Personality traits. Participants completed the agreeableness, neuroticism, and extraversion scales available from the International Personality Item Pool (IPIP; Goldberg, 1999). The IPIP makes available 10-item scales from the bipolar NEO domains (Costa & McCrae, 1992) that have internal consistencies and criterion-related validity comparable to NEO measures (Goldberg, 1999; Goldberg, Grenier, Guion, Sechrest, & Wing, 1991; Johnson, 2005). All IPIP items rated by coworkers were identical to the self-report items, but pertained to the primary participant as a referent. The Agreeableness scale (Goldberg, 1999) had an internal consistency of .84 for the self-report measure and .86 for the coworker measure in the present study. The Neuroticism scale (Goldberg, 1999) had an alpha of .84 for the self-report measure and .81 for the coworker report in the present study. The Extraversion scale (Goldberg, 1999) had an alpha of .86 for the selfreport measure and .78 for the coworker measure in the present study. Provocative victim. A three-item scale was developed specically for this study to measure the extent to which participants were perceived to be provocative victims by their coworkers. The items in this scale were: His or her coworkers argue with him/her frequently, He or she has a tendency to provoke (piss off) other people at work, and When people at work are rude to him/her, it is usually because he or she deserves it.

Method
One hundred seventy-nine full-time employees and their coworkers were surveyed. All participants worked at least 35 hr per week and were between 18 and 65 years of age (M 25; SD 7.15). The main participants completed a survey and were instructed to give a second survey to one of their coworkers. Participants worked in a variety of industries (e.g.,

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Results
Table 1 displays descriptive statistics and correlations between all study variables. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were performed with gender as a covariate in the rst step of every model test. A summary of these analyses is presented in Tables 2 through 7. Other demographic variables that were investigated included age, tenure, ethnicity, native language, highest level of education, and industry. Each of these demographic variables was screened for bivariate correlations with all independent and dependent variables to ensure that they were not unusually high so as to warrant using them as control variables. Gender differences in personality traits have been suggested to play a role in the perception of being a target of incivility, particularly with respect to agreeableness, neuroticism, and extraversion (Goodwin & Gotlib, 2004). Thus, Hypotheses 1 through 3 were tested using hierarchical multiple regression, and in each case gender was entered as a control variable, followed by the relevant personality trait measure. Hypothesis 1 proposed a negative relation between agreeableness and workplace incivility. Incivility was signicantly related to both self and coworker reports of agreeableness (s .41 & .20, ps .001; see Table 2). In support of Hypothesis 3, both self- and coworker reported neuroticism were positively related to workplace incivility (s .26 & .16, ps .001 and .05, respectively, see Table 3). Extraversion was not signicantly related to perceived workplace incivility for either self-reports ( .05, ns), or for coworker reports ( .11, ns) (see Table 4). Thus, Hypothesis 5 was not supported. Hierarchical regression analyses were also performed entering the three personality trait predictors in step 2 after gender was entered in step 1. Table 5 presents results of these analyses for self and coworker reports of personality traits respectively as predictors. Notably, results did not differ substantially from the separate analyses, with one exception: For coworker ratings of personality traits, extraversion turned out to be a signicant predictor, in the positive direction, whereas neuroticism did not cross the threshold of statistical signicance as a predictor. Hypothesis 4 predicted that being a provocative target would mediate the relation between agreeableness and incivility. The results of the Sobel test for mediation (Preacher & Hayes, 2004) supported both

Hypothesis 5 and 6 for coworker report, but not for self-reports. As we saw in Hypothesis 1, coworker report of agreeableness signicantly predicted incivility received, ( .18, p .02), and the standardized beta weight for coworker report of agreeableness decreased to nonsignicance ( .02, ns) when provocative target status was added to the regression (ZSobel 3.10, p .001). In this case, the total effect of coworker report of agreeableness was .22, and the indirect effect was .13. PM, the indirect effect a b divided by the total effect c, provides an estimation of proportion mediated. The proportion of coworker report of agreeableness that is mediated by provocative target status is 57%. As we saw in Hypothesis 2, coworker report of neuroticism signicantly predicted incivility received ( .19, p .01) and the standardized beta weight for neuroticism decreased to nonsignicance ( .05, ns) when provocative target status was added to the regression (ZSobel 2.77, p .006). In this case, the total effect of coworker report of neuroticism was .62, and the indirect effect was .11. The proportion of coworker report of neuroticism that is mediated by provocative target status is 82%. Tables 6 and 7 report results of the mediator analyses.

Discussion
The purpose of the present study was to determine if personality traits, namely agreeableness, neuroticism, and extraversion, predict ones likelihood of experiencing incivility. Further, we conducted this study to examine provocative target behavior as a potential mediator that may explain why target personality traits, as rated by ones coworkers may lead to higher instances of perceived incivility. The present paper is unique in that it is the rst to look at the presence of a mediator that serves as the mechanism for this relation. The ndings of the present study show that agreeableness plays a fairly major role in becoming the target of incivility in the workplace. Individuals low in agreeableness experience more incivility than those who are high in agreeableness, regardless of whether agreeableness is measured from the perspective of the individual or a coworker. Additionally, the results of the mediation analysis suggest that individuals who are rated low on agreeableness by their coworkers report more incivility because they are seen as individuals who invite this sort of behavior from their coworkers. It is not surprising that the test for mediation failed for self-reported agreeableness, as the self-reported perspective of personality may

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Table 1 Intercorrelations Between All Variables


SD 0.61 (.93) 0.61 .40 (.84) .42 .37 (.86) .17 (.84) .20 .14 (.81) .01 (.86) (.78) .07 .07 .05 .05 .07 .00 .06 .06 .11 .09 .13 .15 .07 .17 .04 .09 .01 .12 .10 .12 .53 .04 .15 .10 0.65 .22 0.64 .27 0.62 0.66 .10 .30 .03 .05 .03 .03 .02 .01 .02 .05 .19 .16 .05

Variable

10

11

12

13

14

15

1. 2. 3.

2.13 3.72

4. 5.

3.97 2.49

MILAM, SPITZMUELLER, AND PENNEY

6. 7.

2.24 3.50

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

Incivility Agreeableness Coworker report of agreeableness Neuroticism Coworker report of neuroticism Extraversion Coworker report of extraversion Provocative target Gender Gender of coworker Age Coworker age Tenure (months) Coworker tenure (months) Time coworker has known participant (months) .05 .13 .00 .00 .08 .09 .02 .02 .14 .58 .02 .11 .06 .10 .16 .02 .35 .41 .01 .17 .07 .09 .01 .04 .42 .15 .21 .08 .10 .10 .06 .09 (.83) .08 .14 .19 .12 .14 .04 .05 .12 .01 .05 .03 .06 .03 .07 .01 .00 .06 .43 .48 .14 .18

3.64 1.78 25.38 29.94 38.39 53.68

0.60 0.83 7.15 9.85 41.50 57.64

.23 .60 .32

.33 .53

.46

33.78

49.31

p .05.

p .01.

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Table 2 Summary of Hierarchical Regression Analysis for Agreeableness Predicting Perceptions of Incivility (N 179)
Step 1 Gender Agreeableness (self-report) R2 Gender Agreeableness (coworker report) R2

SE B .13 .13

Step 2 .07 .43 .16 .08 .14 .03

SE B .12 .07 .13 .06

.07 .00 .07 .00

p .05.

p .01.

not manifest itself as behavior that is irritating or bothersome. The nding that low agreeableness plays a role in targets experience of workplace incivility is noteworthy because it suggests that coworkers may engage in some sort of low-intensity retaliation for the annoying behaviors that may be exhibited by people who are low on agreeableness. Individuals low on agreeableness may be confrontational, surly, argumentative, and may come across as disrespectful (Graziano, Jensen-Campbell, & Hair, 1996). If coworkers are exposed to this repeatedly and consistently, it is not surprising that they would react to this individual in a manner differently than they would react to others in the workplace. It may also be the case that those who are high in agreeableness are in such need for harmony that they are more apt to give others the benet of the doubt and attribute ambiguous, uncivil behavior to the situation, rather than to the individual (Graziano et al., 1996). Future researchers may want to further investigate the impact that agreeableness has on other types of social interactions in the workplace. The present study also indicates that for individuals high on neuroticism, perceived incivility may be a function of a more negative general evaluation of a

neurotic individuals surroundings, whereas hypotheses pertaining to extraversion were not supported. Consistent with Weiss and Cropanzanos (1996) Affective Events Theory, the self-reported neurotic individuals experience incivility with greater frequency than their lesser-neurotic counterparts. The present study lends further support to AET by illustrating that people view life and workplace events through different prisms and these prisms may allow one to see more incivility. To the neurotic individual who is characterized by worrying, nervousness, insecurity, and self-pity, events that may seem innocuous to others may look like or feel like incivility. As the mediational results suggest, the types of behaviors that are manifested as a result of neuroticism, or the public perception of neuroticism are the types of behaviors that engender incivility. It is also not surprising that the test for mediation failed for selfreported neuroticism, as coworkers may not even notice people who feel a high level of neuroticism. What is more salient to others, with respect to inviting uncivil behaviors is the behavioral manifestation of neuroticism, which may be better measured with coworker reports.

Table 3 Summary of Hierarchical Regression Analysis for Neuroticism Predicting Perceptions of Incivility (N 179)
Step 1 Gender Neuroticism (self-report) R2 Gender Neuroticism (coworker report) R2

SE B .13 .13

Step 2 .14 .26 .07 .06 .16 .04

SE B .13 .08 .13 .06

.07 .00 .07 .00

p .05.

p .01.

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MILAM, SPITZMUELLER, AND PENNEY

Table 4 Summary of Hierarchical Regression Analysis for Extraversion Predicting Perceptions of Incivility (N 179)
Step 1 Gender Extraversion (self-report) R2 Gender Extraversion (coworker report) R2

SE B .13 .13

Step 2 .11 .08 .01 .07 .05 .00

SE B .13 .07 .13 .07

.07 .00 .07 .00

p .05.

p .01.

Limitations and Future Research


Several study limitations have to be noted along with further research questions that arise on the basis of this research. Limitations of the current study include the cross-sectional nature of the study, somewhat low correlations between self- and peer ratings of personality traits, and an array of questions pertaining to the role of personality traits in incivility that cannot be answered by the current study. It warrants mentioning that we have not, nor have we intended to demonstrate a causal link between an individuals personality traits and incivility directed toward him or her. It may very well be, as Leymann (as cited in Coyne et al., 2000) suggested, that ones personality traits could be shaped by the uncivil treatment one receives. Thus, future research examining mediators of the target trait-incivility relationship should focus on attaining longitudinal data to replicate and extend our ndings. Ratings between self and others were not as strongly correlated as we would have expected with

the ratings of neuroticism (r .20), but given the relative visibility of the characteristic, it does not strike us as surprising that they are not that similar. Because of the behavioral differences between an internal feeling of neuroticism, and the outward display of what others may sense as neuroticism, it makes sense that the self- and other ratings would not correspond that closely. It would be interesting for more research to be conducted that further explores this phenomenon as well. One way to disentangle the role that personality traits play in incivility would be to use a multitraitmultimethod design and survey individuals with respect to a number of different interpersonal workplace events, both positive and negative. AET illustrates that personality trait research in the workplace must always have multiple raters assessing events in order for the researcher to gain a better contextual picture. It would be instructive, for example, to see whether neurotic individuals perceive not only higher levels of incivility, but also greater levels

Table 5 Summary of Hierarchical Regression Analysis for Agreeableness, Neuroticism, and Extraversion Predicting Perceptions of Incivility (N 179)
Step 1 Gender Agreeableness (self-report) Neuroticism (self-report) Extraversion (self-report) R2 Gender Agreeableness (coworker report) Neuroticism (coworker report) Extraversion (coworker report) R2

SE B .12

Step 2 .13 .36 .16 .11 .20 .07 .17 .13 .18 .08

SE B .11 .07 .07 .06 .12 .08 .09 .08

.05

.00 .05

.12

.00

p .05.

p .01.

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Table 6 Multiple Regression of Agreeableness and Provocative Target Status on Perceptions of Incivility (N 179)
Step 1 Gender Agreeableness (self-report) Provocative status R2 Sobel test statistic Gender Agreeableness (coworker report) Provocative status R2 Sobel test statistic

SE B .13

Step 2 .07 .43 .16

SE B .12 .07

Step 3 .04 .40 .20 .23 1.64 (n.s.) .03 .01 .23 .09 3.1

SE B .11 .07 .05 .12 .07 .07

.07 .00 .07 .00

.13

.08 .14 .02

.12 .06

p .05.

p .01.

of workplace theft, aggression, or even sexual harassment. In addition, they may perceive fewer instances of positive events, such as organizational citizenship behaviors, organizational support, and acts of friendship on the job. Diary studies could also be employed as a means to assess incivility as it occurs from the perspective of various observers of the same event. It would also be interesting to develop theory with respect to the consequences of these different interpretations of work events. In other words, when two people experience the same event differently, how do the outcomes of these unique experiences differ? For example, are people who are low in agreeableness more likely to retaliate in response to incivility? Or is it possible that a feedback loop exists, similar to the incivility spiral (Andersson & Pearson, 1999) that actually perpetuates the (low) agreeableness trait, thereby leading to stability of the trait?

From a practical perspective, managers should pay attention not only to how various personality traits affect job performance, but also to how personality traits can inuence whether or not someone receives or perceives incivility directed toward him or her. Training that is designed to curtail incivility or lessen the adverse effects of incivility should focus on promoting behaviors that promote lower levels of incivility. For example, instructors could highlight behaviors that are consistent with high agreeableness as possible conict resolution strategies. Similarly, instructors may want to illuminate and discourage behaviors that are consistent with low agreeableness or high neuroticism, as these behaviors may attract or invite incivility toward the actor. Finally, organizations concerned primarily with nding perpetrators of incivility and reprimanding offenders may want to consider that workplace incivility is complex and often needs to be examined in light of all parties concerned.

Table 7 Multiple Regression of Neuroticism and Provocative Target Status on Perceptions of Incivility (N 179)
Step 1 Gender Neuroticism (self-report) Provocative status R2 Sobel test statistic Gender Neuroticism (coworker report) Provocative status R2 Sobel test statistic

SE B .13

Step 2 .14 .26 .07

SE B .13 .08

Step 3 .09 .22 .21 .14 1.67 (n.s) .03 .05 .21 .09 2.77

SE B .12 .07 .06 .12 .07 .07

.07 .00 .07 .00

.13

.06 .16 .04

.13 .06

p .05.

p .01.

68

MILAM, SPITZMUELLER, AND PENNEY

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Received August 22, 2007 Revision received April 18, 2008 Accepted April 22, 2008 y

Correction to Petterson et al. (2005)


For the article Are Trends in Work and Health Conditions Interrelated? A Study of Swedish Hospital Employees in the 1990s by Inga-Lill Petterson, Anna Hertting, Lars Hagberg, and To res Theorell (Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 2005, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 110 120), the authors wish to make the following correction: This particular study was based upon a unique database (the Springlife database), rebro Regional with repeated questionnaire self-reports from hospital staff in the O Hospital in Sweden regarding work environment and mental health in the years 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, and 2001. This was initiated by Dr. Bengt Arnetz and his research group at the National Institute for Psychosocial Factors and Health in Stockholm, and his collaborators at Springlife, an independent research organization. The Springlife database was referred to in the text and references of the article noted above, but it should have been more clearly acknowledged. Herewith the authors want to make this late acknowledgement. The database actually started in the fall of 1993 with the regional hospitals physicians and continued with all hospital staff during the spring 1994. This rst wave of questionnaire data was labelled 1994 in the article. Professor Arnetz had the main responsibility for the Springlife database. This information does not change the interpretation of the ndings reported in the article.
DOI: 10.1037/a0014948