Psychological Science at Work


The indispensable research blog on the science of the modern workplace, covering everything from leadership and management to the behavioral, social, and cognitive dynamics behind performance and achievement.


How Rude Co-Workers Can Mess Up Your Marriage

PAFF_072216_RudenessMarriage_newsfeatureHaving to work with rude or disrespectful colleagues can take a toll on an employees’ family life, according to new research.

An international team of psychological scientists led by Sandy Lim of the University of Singapore hypothesized that employees who deal with high levels of incivility at work are more likely to take out their negative mood on their spouses once they get home.

“Workplace incivility is a subtle form of interpersonal mistreatment,” Lim and colleagues explain. “Uncivil behaviors are typically rude or discourteous behaviors that violate workplace norms of respect, for example, insulting remarks, addressing others in unprofessional terms, and the use of a condescending tone.”

Previous research has shown that rudeness can be “contagious,” spreading from one individual to another throughout an office. The new study, published in the Journal of Management, suggests that a bad mood caused by an…

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Putting Corporate Quotas to Work for Women

PAFF_071916_GenderQuotasWork_newsfeatureMen outnumber women in corporate leadership positions to such an extent that in the US that there are more top chief executives named John than there are women leading major companies. Across the world, women are underrepresented in leadership positions. One tactic to help break down barriers is for companies or governments to institute requirements or quotas designed to increase women’s representation in leadership positions. But do these well-intentioned tactics actually work?

To answer this question, a team of Australian psychological scientists including Victor Sojo, Robert Wood, Sally Wood, and Melissa Wheeler evaluated whether quotas, laws, and target goals actually helped to close the gender gap in leadership on an international scale.

“The evidence indicates that women rarely get appointed or elected into top leadership positions,” Sojo and colleagues write. “By the end…

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Failure, Emotions, and Explaining It to Your Boss

PAFF_071416_EmotionsExplainingBoss_newsfeatureWe all make mistakes in the workplace at one point or another, but is there an optimal way to explain it to your supervisor?

In a 2015 paper published by Europe’s Journal of Psychology, David and Hareli Shlomo and APS Fellow Ursula Hess investigated whether showing emotion (or the lack thereof) and whether admitting guilt, blaming someone else, or giving an ambiguous response after a service failure could impact the believability of an employee’s account and their chances of being fired or promoted.

The researchers recruited business school alumni from the University of Haifa in Israel to participate in an online experiment.

In the first study, 416 participants read a scenario about an office software update gone terribly wrong. Following the upgrade, the customer’s entire system crashed and was inoperative for several hours, causing the client considerable damage. The participants were informed…

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There’s a Better Way to Manage Time Management

PAFF_071316_TimeCrunch_newsfeatureFor many people, it feels as if we have more to do and less time to do it in than ever before: children need to be fed, bosses need you to stay late, and someone needs to get the car to the mechanic. Juggling all of our responsibilities can make it feel as though there just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything.

To wrangle our crunched calendars, we turn to “productivity hacks” and the newest time-saving apps, but new research suggests that maybe we would be better off spending some time managing our time management.

In a recent study, a team led by APS Fellow Gabriele Oettingen (New York University) examined the psychological strategies that actually help people effectively manage their time. Where lifehacks and calendar apps fail, a strategy called MCII — mental contrasting with implementation intentions —…

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Psychological Training for Entrepreneurs Helps Fight Poverty

PAFF_070816_UgandaEntrepreneurs_newsfeatureIn 2015, Uganda was named the world’s most entrepreneurial country, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). Although 28% of adults in Uganda own or co-own a business, around 70% of new businesses collapse within two years.

“Ugandans are good at starting enterprises but have a high failure rate,” Charles Ocici, executive director of Enterprise Uganda told The Guardian. “It is one thing to own economic assets, and it is another to run a business and generate sustainable income.”

In a new article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, psychological scientists Michael Frese, Michael M. Gielnik, and Mona Mensmann of Leuphana University of Lüneburg argue that bottom-up psychological interventions designed to enhance entrepreneurs have the potential to become a useful tool in the fight against global poverty.

“Increasing the number and quality of entrepreneurs is probably one of the…

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