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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Comparing Victim Attributes and Outcomes for Workplace Aggression and Sexual Harassment (Part 2)

Summary by: Ian B. Mondrow, M.A.

Following their previous research, Hershcovis and Barling (2010) decide to conduct a meta-analysis using 112 studies and 134 independent samples. The authors of previous studies that used the Sexual Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ) were contacted to reanalyze the data with merely a subcomponent of the SEQ. 82% of the samples were returned. Data was analyzed using Hunter Schmidt’s (1990 as cited by Hershcovis & Barling, 2010) for calculating weighted average reliabilities, adjusting for sample error, and measuring confidence intervals. Z tests were used to analyze independent correlations.

Results revealed that sexual harassment had a negative relationship with job satisfaction (rc = -.29), coworker satisfaction (rc = -.35), supervisor satisfaction (rc = -.34), affective commitment (rc = - .29), and psychological wellbeing (rc = -.28). Studies continued to show that sexual harassment had positive relationships with turnover (rc =.21), job stress (rc =.21) and work withdrawal (rc =.29). All of the correlations mentioned above were statistically significant with a probability less than .01. The author fails to mention that while the correlations are significant, they are low correlations and thus may have weak effects.

Workplace aggression was found to have stronger relationships than sexual harassment. It was found to have negative correlations with job satisfaction (rc = -.46), coworker satisfaction (rc = -.37), supervisor satisfaction (rc = -.49), affective commitment (rc = -.40) and psychological wellbeing (rc = -.40). Positive correlations for workplace aggression were present for turnover (rc =.39), job stress (rc =.32) and work withdrawal (rc =.19). All correlations had a probability less than .05.

As already demonstrated with the correlations, Z-tests comparisons revealed that workplace aggression had stronger negative outcomes than sexual harassment in job satisfaction, supervisor satisfaction, affective commitment, psychological wellbeing, and turnover and job stress. No significant difference was present for coworker satisfaction. Work withdrawal had a stronger effect with sexual harassment than workplace aggression.

As previously mentioned in Part 1 of this summary, this research shows that workplace aggressive has effects that are far more influential than sexual harassment. This may be a result of the lack of action that is taken to address this issue. Sexual harassment is a sensitive topic and organizations attempt to correct the harassment quickly to avoid lawsuits. Workplace aggression,however, can not be easily proven and there is no legal implications of an employee that is rude or excludes other individuals. 

Organizations can prevent these negative affects of by implementing a policy stating no tolerance towards workplace aggression or sexual harassment. For this policy to be effective, the organization must investigate all claims of workplace aggression and avoid discrediting any accusations without proof. 

Regardless, sexual harassment and workplace aggression will continue to be part of our society. We do not live in an ideal world and some people have no guilt for their actions. As HR practioners, we should communicate disapproval of any of these actions and the consequences associated with these actions. We should also take immediate action once any complaint is received. These issues should not go unaddressed or else it could have negative effects on company culture and personnel.

Source: Herschcovis, M.S., Barling, J. (2010). Comparing victim attributions and outcomes for workplace aggression and sexual harassment. American Psychological Association, 95 (5), 874-888.

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