When expressing forgiveness backfires in the workplace: victim power moderates the effect of expressing forgiveness on transgressor compliance

Zheng, M.X., Van Dijke, M. ORCID: 0000-0001-9974-5050, Narayanan, J. and De Cremer, D., 2017. When expressing forgiveness backfires in the workplace: victim power moderates the effect of expressing forgiveness on transgressor compliance. European Journal of Work & Organizational Psychology. ISSN 1359-432X

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Abstract

Expressing (vs. withholding) forgiveness is often promoted as a beneficial response for victims. In the present research we argue that withholding (vs. expressing) forgiveness can also be beneficial to victims by stimulating subsequent transgressor compliance – a response that is valuable in restoring the victim’s needs for control. Based on deterrence theory, we argue that a victim’s withheld (vs. expressed) forgiveness promotes transgressor compliance when the victim has low power, relative to the transgressor. This is because withheld (vs. expressed) forgiveness from a low-power victim elicits transgressor fear. On the other hand, because people are fearful of high-power actors, high-power victims can expect high levels of compliance from a transgressor, regardless of whether they express forgiveness or not. A critical incidents survey (Study 1) and an autobiographic recall study (Study 2) among employees, as well as a laboratory experiment among business students (Study 3) support these predictions. These studies are among the first to reveal that withholding forgiveness can be beneficial for low-power victims in a hierarchical context – ironically, a context in which offering forgiveness is often expected.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: European Journal of Work & Organizational Psychology
Creators: Zheng, M.X., Van Dijke, M., Narayanan, J. and De Cremer, D.
Publisher: Routledge on behalf of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP)
Date: 20 October 2017
ISSN: 1359-432X
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1080/1359432X.2017.1392940DOI
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Depositing User: Jill Tomkinson
Date Added: 22 Nov 2017 10:08
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2017 10:08
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/32074

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