Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 15–35 | Cite as

What Makes Us Enthusiastic, Angry, Feeling at Rest or Worried? Development and Validation of an Affective Work Events Taxonomy Using Concept Mapping Methodology

  • Sandra Ohly
  • Antje SchmittEmail author



Affective events theory (AET) highlights the importance of work events as antecedents of distinct emotions, attitudes, and work behavior. However, few attempts have been made to systematically classify positive and negative work events. The aim of this study was to develop a comprehensive taxonomy of affective work events to provide a common frame of reference for future research and to improve communication among researchers regarding research on affective work events.

Design and Methodological Approach

Positive and negative affective work events were sampled from employees using a diary study design. We used concept mapping methodology as an exploratory approach to analyze the data on affective work events.


Two hundred eighteen employees reported 559 positive and 383 negative affective work events. We identified four positive and seven negative event clusters. Each event cluster showed a unique relationship with distinct affective states, even when controlling for the occurrence of events without clustering and trait affect. The results support the validity of our taxonomy.


This study contributes to previous literature by providing a comprehensive yet parsimonious classification of both positive and negative affective work events. The affective work event clusters found reflect personal values of agency and communion. This classification of affective events as reflecting agentic and communal values provides a starting point for the integration of findings from previous studies.

Originality and Value

The taxonomy developed in this study provides an integrative approach and a basis for future research to more differentially investigate relationships proposed by AET.


Affective events theory Affective work events Affect at work Concept mapping methodology Values 



We thank Cynthia Fisher, Sabine Sonnentag, Wendong Li, and Anya Johnson for their helpful suggestions and comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


  1. Amabile, T. M., & Kramer, S. J. (2011). The progress principle: Using small wins to ignite joy, engagement, and creativity at work. Boston: Harvard Business Press.Google Scholar
  2. Baas, M., De Dreu, C. K. W., & Nijstad, B. A. (2008). A meta-analysis of 25 years of mood-creativity research: Hedonic tone, activation, or regulatory focus? Psychological Bulletin, 134, 779–806.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandura, A. (2000). Cultivate self-efficacy for personal and organizational effectiveness. In E. A. Locke (Ed.), Handbook of principles of organizational behavior (pp. 120–136). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. Basch, J., & Fisher, C. D. (2000). Affective events–emotions matrix: A classification of work events and associated emotions. In Ashkanasy, N. M., Härtel, C. E. J., Zerbe, W. J. (Eds.), Emotions in the workplace: Research, theory and practice (pp. 33–48). Westport: Quorum Books, Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  5. Beal, D. J., Weiss, H. M., Barros, E., & MacDermid, S. M. (2005). An episodic process model of affective influences on performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 1054–1068.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Behfar, K. J., Peterson, R. S., Mannix, E. A., & Trochim, W. M. K. (2008). The critical role of conflict resolution in teams: A close look at the links between conflict type, conflict management strategies, and team outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 170–187.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bledow, R., Schmitt, A., Frese, M., & Kühnel, J. (2011). The affective shift model of work engagement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 1246–1257.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bolger, N., Davis, A., & Rafaeli, E. (2003). Diary methods: Capturing life as it is lived. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 579–616.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Bolger, N., DeLongis, A., Kessler, R. C., & Schilling, E. A. (1989). Effects of daily stress on negative mood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 808–818.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Brief, A. P., & Weiss, H. M. (2002). Organizational behavior: Affect in the workplace. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 279–307.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Carver, C. S., & Harmon-Jones, E. (2009). Anger is an approach-related affect: Evidence and implications. Psychological Bulletin, 135, 183.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Cohen, S., Kessler, R. C., & Gordon, L. U. (1997). Measuring stress: A guide for health and social scientists New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Conati, C., & Zhou, X. (2002). Modeling students’ emotions from cognitive appraisal in educational games. In S. A. Cerri, G. Gouarderes, & F. Paraguacu (Eds.), Proceedings of the intelligent tutoring systems (pp. 944–954). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Conway, N., & Briner, R. B. (2002). A daily diary study of affective response to psychological contract breach and exceeded promises. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 287–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Daniels, K., & Harris, C. (2005). A daily diary study of coping in the context of the job demands–control–support model. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 66, 219–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. De Dreu, C. K. W., Harink, F., & Van Vianen, A. E. M. (1999). Conflict and performance in groups and organizations. In C. L. Cooper & I. T. Robertson (Eds.), International review of industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 14, pp. 369–414). Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  17. De Jonge, J., & Dormann, C. (2006). Stressors, resources, and strain at work: A longitudinal test of the triple-match principle. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 1359–1374.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dimotakis, N., Scott, B. A., & Koopman, J. (2011). An experience sampling investigation of workplace interactions, affective states, and employee well-being. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 32, 572–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dong, J., Martin, S., & Waldo, P. (2001). A user input and analysis tool for information architecture. Paper presented at the CHI ‘01 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, Seattle, Washington.Google Scholar
  21. Elfenbein, H. A. (2007). Emotion in organizations: A review in stages. In A. Brief & J. Walsh (Eds.), Annals of the academy of management (Vol. 1, pp. 315–386). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  22. Elfering, A., Grebner, S., Semmer, N. K., Kaiser-Freiburghaus, D., Laupner-Del Ponte, S., & Witschi, I. (2005). Chronic job stressors and job control: Effects on event-related coping success and well-being. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 78, 237–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Elliot, A. J. (2006). The hierarchical model of approach–avoidance motivation. Motivation and Emotion, 30, 111–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ellsworth, P. C., & Scherer, K. R. (2003). Appraisal processes in emotion. In R. J. Davidson, K. R. Scherer, & H. H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Handbook of affective sciences (pp. 572–595). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Feldman Barrett, L., & Russell, J. A. (1998). Independence and bipolarity in the structure of current affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 967–984.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fiedler, K. (1990). Mood-dependent selectivity in social cognition. European Review of Social Psychology, 1, 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fisher, C. D., & Noble, C. S. (2004). A with-in person examination of correlates of performance and emotions while working. Human Performance, 17, 145–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J. C., & Glick, P. (2007). Universal dimensions of social cognition: Warmth and competence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 77–83.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Fitness, J. (2000). Anger in the workplace: An emotion script approach to anger episodes between workers and their superiors, co-workers and subordinates. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 21, 147–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Forgas, J. P. (1995). Mood and judgment: The affect infusion model (AIM). Psychological Bulletin, 117, 39–66.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Frese, M. (1999). Social support as a moderator of the relationship between stress at work and psychological dysfunctioning: A longitudinal study with objective measures. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 4, 179–192.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Frijda, N. H. (1986). The emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Frijda, N. H. (1988). Laws of emotion. American Psychologist, 43, 349–358.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Fritz, C., & Sonnentag, S. (2009). Antecedents of day-level proactive behavior at work: A look at job stressors and positive affect during the workday. Journal of Management, 35, 94–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gaddis, B., Connelly, S., & Mumford, M. D. (2004). Failure feedback as an affective event: Influences of leader affect on subordinate attitudes and performance. The Leadership Quarterly, 15, 663–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Grandey, A. A. (2000). Emotion regulation in the workplace: A new way to conceptualize emotional labor. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5, 95–110.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Grandey, A. A., Tam, A. P., & Brauburger, A. L. (2002). Affective states and traits in the workplace: Diary and survey data from young workers. Motivation and Emotion, 26, 31–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Grant, A. M., Campbell, E. M., Chen, G., Cottone, K., Lapedis, D., & Lee, K. (2007). Impact and the art of motivation maintenance: The effects of contact with beneficiaries on persistence behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 103, 53–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Grebner, S., Elfering, A., & Semmer, N. K. (2010). The success resource model of job stress. Research in Occupational Stress and Well-Being, 8, 61–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Gross, S., Semmer, N. K., Meier, L. L., Kälin, W., Jacobshagen, N., & Tschan, F. (2011). The effect of positive events at work on after-work fatigue: They matter most in face of adversity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 654–664.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Hahn, S. E. (2000). The effects of locus of control on daily exposure, coping and reactivity to work interpersonal stressors: A diary study. Personality and Individual Differences, 29, 729–748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Herzberg, F. (1965). The motivation to work among Finnish supervisors. Personnel Psychology, 18, 393–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Herzberg, F. (1966). Work and the nature of man. Cleveland: OH World Publishing.Google Scholar
  44. Hofmann, D. A., Griffin, M. A., & Gavin, M. B. (2000). The application of hierarchical linear modeling to organizational research. In K. J. Klein & S. W. J. Kozlowski (Eds.), Multilevel theory, research, and methods in organizations (pp. 467–511). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  45. Hogan, R. (1982). A socioanalytic theory of personality. In M. Page (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation (pp. 55–89). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  46. Humphrey, S. E., Nahrgang, J. D., & Morgeson, F. P. (2007). Integrating motivational, social, and contextual work design features: A meta-analytic summary and theoretical extension of the work design literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1332–1356.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Jackson, K. M., & Trochim, W. M. K. (2002). Concept mapping as an alternative approach for the analysis of open-ended survey responses. Organizational Research Methods, 5, 307–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Judd, C. M., James-Hawkins, L., Yzerbyt, V., & Kashima, Y. (2005). Fundamental dimensions of social judgment: Understanding the relations between judgments of competence and warmth. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 899–913.Google Scholar
  49. Kane, M., Trochim, M. K., & Trochim, W. M. K. (2007). Concept mapping for planning and evaluation (Vol. 50). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  50. Katz, D., & Kahn, R. L. (1978). The social psychology of organizations. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  51. Kiffin-Petersen, S., Murphy, S. A., & Soutar, G. (2012). The problem-solving service worker: Appraisal mechanisms and positive affective experiences during customer interactions. Human Relations, 65, 1179–1206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kluger, A. N., & DeNisi, A. (1996). The effects of feedback interventions on performance: A historical review, a meta-analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 254–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Progress on a cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion. American Psychologist, 46, 819–834.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. LePine, J. A., Podsakoff, N. P., & LePine, M. A. (2005). A meta-analytic test of the challenge stress-hindrance stress framework: An explanation for inconsistent relationships between stressors and performance. Academy of Management Journal, 48, 764–775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal and task motivation. American Psychologist, 57, 705–717.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Mackinnon, A., Jorm, A. F., Christensen, H., Korten, A. E., Jacomb, P. A., & Rodgers, B. (1999). A short form of the positive and negative affect schedule: Evaluation of factorial validity and invariance across demographic variables in a community sample. Personality and Individual Differences, 27, 405–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Mignonac, K., & Herrbach, O. (2004). Linking work events, affective states, and attitudes: An empirical study of managers’ emotions. Journal of Business and Psychology, 19, 221–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Miner, A. G., Glomb, T. M., & Hulin, C. (2005). Experience sampling mood and its correlates at work. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 78, 171–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Morgeson, F. P., & Humphrey, S. E. (2006). The Work Design Questionnaire (WDQ): Developing and validating a comprehensive measure for assessing job design and the nature of work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 1321–1339.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Ohly, S., Sonnentag, S., Niessen, C., & Zapf, D. (2010). Diary studies in organizational research: An introduction and some practical recommendations. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 9, 79–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Ong, A. D., Bergeman, C. S., Bisconti, T. L., & Wallace, K. A. (2006). Psychological resilience, positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 730–749.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Raudenbush, S., Bryk, A., & Congdon, R. (2004). HLM 6. Chicago: Scientific Software.Google Scholar
  63. Richards, J. M., & Gross, J. J. (2006). Personality and emotional memory: How regulating emotion impairs memory for emotional events. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 631–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Romesburg, H. C. (2004). Cluster analysis for researchers. Belmont: Lifetime Learning Publications.Google Scholar
  65. Rossiter, J. R. (2002). The C-OAR-SE procedure for scale development in marketing. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 19, 305–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Rothbard, N. P., & Wilk, S. L. (2011). Waking up on the right or wrong side of the bed: Start-of-workday mood, work events, employee affect, and performance. Academy of Management Journal, 54, 959–980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Saragovi, C., Aubé, J., Koestner, R., & Zuroff, D. (2002). Traits, motives, and depressive styles as reflections of agency and communion. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 563–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Scherer, K. R. (1984). On the nature and function of emotion: A component process approach. In K. R. Scherer & P. Ekman (Eds.), Approaches to emotion (pp. 293–318). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  69. Scherer, K. R. (1988). Criteria for emotion-antecedent appraisal: A review. In V. Hamilton, G. H. Bower, & N. H. Frijda (Eds.), Cognitive perspectives on emotion and motivation (pp. 89–126). Norwell: Kluwer Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Schmidt, S., Tinti, C., Levine, L. J., & Testa, S. (2010). Appraisals, emotions and emotion regulation: An integrative approach. Motivation and Emotion, 34, 63–72.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  71. Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In Zanna, M. P. (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 25, pp. 1–65). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  72. Smith, M. J., Conway, F. T., & Karsh, B. T. (1999). Occupational stress in human computer interaction. Industrial Health, 37, 157–173.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Sonnentag, S., & Frese, M. (2003). Stress in organizations. In W. C. Borman, D. R. Ilgen, & R. J. Klimoski (Eds.), Handbook of psychology industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 12, pp. 453–491). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  74. Spitzmuller, C., Glenn, D. M., Barr, C. D., Rogelberg, S. G., & Daniel, P. (2006). “If you treat me right, I reciprocate”: Examining the role of exchange in organizational survey response. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 27, 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Trapnell, P. D., & Paulhus, D. L. (2012). Agentic and communal values: Their scope and measurement. Journal of Personality Assessment, 94, 39–52.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  76. van Eck, M., Nicolson, N. A., & Berkhof, J. (1998). Effects of stressful daily events on mood states: Relationship to global perceived stress. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1572–1585.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS Scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  78. Weiner, B. (1985). An attributional theory of achievement motivation and emotion. Psychological Review, 92, 548–573.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. Weiss, H. M., & Beal, D. J. (2005). Reflections on affective events theory. In N. M. Ashkanasy, W. J. Zerbe, & C. E. J. Härtel (Eds.), The effect of affect in organizational settings (Vol. 1, pp. 1–21). San Diego CA: Emerald.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Weiss, H. M., & Cropanzano, R. (1996). Affective events theory: A theoretical discussion of the structure, causes and consequences of affective experiences at work. Research in Organizational Behavior, 18, 1–74.Google Scholar
  81. Yukl, G. A. (2001). Leadership in organizations. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  82. Zacher, H., Degner, M., Seevaldt, R., Frese, M., & Lüdde, J. (2009). Was wollen jüngere und ältere Erwerbstätige erreichen? Altersbezogene Unterschiede in den Inhalten und Merkmalen beruflicher Ziele [What do younger and older workers want to accomplish? Age-related differences in content and characteristics of occupational goals]. Zeitschrift für Personalpsychologie, 8, 191–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Zohar, D. (1997). Predicting burnout with a hassle-based measure of role demands. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 18, 101–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Zohar, D., Tzischinski, O., & Epstein, R. (2003). Effects of energy availability on immediate and delayed emotional reactions to work events. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 1082–1093.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business PsychologyUniversity of KasselKasselGermany

Personalised recommendations