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The Impact of Context on Responses to Episodes of Incivility Open Access

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Incivility research has demonstrated that, in addition to prolonged incivility, even single incidents of incivility can initiate a domino effect of harmful consequences in an organization. The current study examined the process by which single episodes of incivility affect victims' OCB and CWB, by testing multiple paths, i.e., interactional justice, negative affect, and desire for revenge. This general model was further examined across context (i.e., instigator status, victim perspective). The study employed a within-subject design to test the interactive effects of instigator status (i.e., supervisor, coworker) and victim perspective (i.e., target, observer) on cognitive and emotional reactions and behavioral intentions following incivility. Data were obtained from 303 Mechanical Turk workers who participated in an online vignette study. Participants reviewed five vignettes and responded to measures of study variables. Results showed that targets and observers experience similar adverse effects following incivility, including a decrease in justice perceptions, rise in negative emotions, and desire for revenge, resulting in greater likelihood of CWB and lesser likelihood of OCB, particularly toward the instigator. Significant interactive effects further suggested victims may consider instigator status when choosing a response to incivility, and that victim perspective may shape responses to incivility. Overall, findings suggest a more complex decision making process may occur as victims choose their response to incivility.

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