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

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SSCI Scopus ABDC-B

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.

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[Zheng, Michelle Xue] CEIBS, Dept Org Behav & Human Resource Management, Shanghai, Peoples R China

[van Dijke, Marius] Erasmus Univ, Rotterdam Sch Management, Business & Soc Dept, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Nottingham Trent Univ, Nottingham Business Sch, Div Human Resource Management, Nottingham, England

[Narayanan, Jayanth] Int Inst Management Dev IMD, Dept Org Behav & Leadership, Lausanne, Switzerland; Natl Univ Singapore, Sch Business, Dept Management & Org, Singapore, Singapore

[De Cremer, David] Univ Cambridge, Judge Business Sch, Org Behav & Informat Syst Grp, Cambridge, England


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Source

European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology

ISSN:1359-432X

Year:2018

Issue:1

Volume:27

Page:70-87

ESI Discipline:PSYCHIATRY/PSYCHOLOGY;

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