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Attributional Style and Engagement/Disengagement Responses in the Chinese Workforce

Authors

  • C. Harry Hui,

    1. The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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    • Order of authorship is arbitrary. All coauthors made equal contributions to this paper. This research was supported by a Hong Kong Research Grant Council grant HKU744608H to the corresponding author. We have benefited greatly from discussion with Samuel Ho and his research team. We gratefully acknowledge Hannah Tai's assistance in the pilot study that generated items for the CMAS described here, and the two reviewers for useful suggestions.

  • S. Tess Pak,

    1. The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Siu-On Kwan,

    1. City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • AnAn Chao

    1. The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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C. Harry Hui, Department of Psychology, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong. Email: huiharry@hku.hk

Abstract

Internal attribution for bad events, along with stable and global attributions, has been regarded as a component of pessimism, a precursor of negative work outcomes. Most evidence in support of this conceptualisation has come from research conducted in individualist cultures. We questioned if internal attribution has the same pessimistic implication in a collectivist culture. Findings from two studies conducted on Chinese employees supported our expectations that the stability and globality dimensions (but not the internality dimension) would predict disengagement responses (such as quitting and being neglectful at work) and lack of engagement responses (such as voicing suggestions and being loyal to the organisation). A reconceptualisation of pessimism in the workplace is therefore necessary. A dimensional, rather than a composite, scoring method is proposed for maintaining the predictive and construct validities of attributional style as an indicator of pessimism.

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