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An Emotional Process Theory of How Subordinates Appraise...

An Emotional Process Theory of How Subordinates Appraise, Experience, and Respond to Abusive Supervision Over Time

by Crystal Farh and Jo K. Oh

from AMR 42:2, 10.5465/amr.2014.0347


As empirical research on abusive supervision flourishes, there is an increasing need for an integrative framework that accounts for how and why individuals vary in their perceptions, experiences, and responses to abuse over time. To address this need, we integrate across theories of emotions to present a multiphase, episodic process model that explains how initial attributions and appraisals combine to give rise to three distinct emotions – anger, fear, and sadness – that in turn drive a range of behavioral responses. Upon this foundation, we offer new propositions on how various person and situational factors combine at each phase to produce different emotional and behavioral pathways, and further conceptualize how feedback loops linking the behavioral responses in one episode to the next can result in emotional modulations and increasing (or decreasing) trajectories of adaptation to abuse. We advance the abusive supervision literature by a) providing a dynamic framework that integrates and organizes existing research, b) offering new emotions-based explanations for why people exhibit a range of responses to abuse over time, and c) highlighting areas in need of future research that have the potential to provide a more complete understanding of abusive supervision and its implications for organizations.

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