Who Strikes Back? A Daily Investigation of When and Why Incivility Begets Incivility Academic Article uri icon


  • Incivility at work-low intensity deviant behaviors with an ambiguous intent to harm-has been on the rise, yielding negative consequences for employees' well-being and companies' bottom-lines. Although examinations of incivility have gained momentum in organizational research, theory and empirical tests involving dynamic, within-person processes associated with this negative interpersonal behavior are limited. Drawing from ego depletion theory, we test how experiencing incivility precipitates instigating incivility toward others at work via reduced self-control. Using an experience sampling design across 2 work weeks, we found that experiencing incivility earlier in the day reduced one's levels of self-control (captured via a performance-based measure of self-control), which in turn resulted in increased instigated incivility later in the day. Moreover, organizational politics-a stable, environmental factor-strengthened the relation between experienced incivility and reduced self-control, whereas construal level-a stable, personal factor-weakened the relation between reduced self-control and instigated incivility. Combined, our results yield multiple theoretical, empirical, and practical implications for the study of incivility at work. (PsycINFO Database Record

altmetric score

  • 96.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Rosen, C. C., Koopman, J., Gabriel, A. S., & Johnson, R. E.

citation count

  • 97

publication date

  • November 2016