Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 122, Issue 3, pp 461–474

What Have I Done to Deserve This? Effects of Employee Personality and Emotion on Abusive Supervision


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-013-1771-6

Cite this article as:
Henle, C.A. & Gross, M.A. J Bus Ethics (2014) 122: 461. doi:10.1007/s10551-013-1771-6


Drawing on victim precipitation theory, we propose that certain employees are more likely to perceive abusive supervision because of their personality traits. Specifically, we hypothesize that subordinates’ emotional stability, conscientiousness, and agreeableness will be negatively related to perceived abuse from their supervisor and that negative emotions at work will mediate these relationships. We surveyed 222 employees and found that emotional stability and conscientiousness negatively predicted employees’ self-reports of abusive supervision and that this relationship was mediated by negative emotions. Thus, employees lower in emotional stability or conscientiousness are more likely to experience negative emotions, which in turn is related to higher levels of abuse.


Abusive supervision Negative emotion Personality Victim precipitation theory 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ManagementColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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