When expressing forgiveness backfires in the workplace: victim power moderates the effect of expressing forgiveness on transgressor compliance
SSCI Scopus ABDC-B
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.
2020，Journal of Organizational Behavior
European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology