Ruminative thinking exacerbates the negative effects of workplace violence
Article first published online: 12 OCT 2012
© 2012 The British Psychological Society
Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Volume 86, Issue 1, pages 67–84, March 2013
How to Cite
Niven, K., Sprigg, C. A., Armitage, C. J. and Satchwell, A. (2013), Ruminative thinking exacerbates the negative effects of workplace violence. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 86: 67–84. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8325.2012.02066.x
- Issue published online: 4 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 12 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 4 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 16 APR 2012
- Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) UK. Grant Number: RES-060-25-0044
- Emotion regulation of others and self [EROS]') and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Grant Number: R/0707/2
In this article, we investigate the impact of engaging in ruminative-style thoughts after exposure to workplace violence. Rumination is a form of self-focused thinking characterized by abstract and passive negative thoughts. In an experimental study in which student volunteers were exposed to simulated violence using a video manipulation, the unpleasant affect of participants instructed to ruminate about the violence persisted, while the affect of participants in a distraction condition was quickly repaired. In a field study of violence experienced by social workers in their everyday working lives, employees who had a high tendency to engage in ruminative thinking exhibited a stronger negative relationship between exposure to violence and poor well-being and health complaints compared with those who had a low tendency to ruminate. Together, our findings suggest that ruminative thinking may exacerbate the negative effects of workplace violence.
- Being subjected to violence at work can have negative implications for employees' health and well-being, but it is not always possible for organizations to prevent violent attacks (e.g., from members of the public).
- Our findings indicate that the negative consequences of violence may be intensified when the victim engages in rumination, a negative type of thinking about the self that involves passive, abstract thoughts about what happened and the effects on one's life.
- Organizations should therefore seek to discourage ruminative thinking among victims of workplace violence.