Self-defeating behaviors in organizations: the relationship between thwarted belonging and interpersonal work behaviors.

Research paper by Stefan S Thau, Karl K Aquino, P Marijn PM Poortvliet

Indexed on: 09 May '07Published on: 09 May '07Published in: The Journal of applied psychology


This multisource field study applied belongingness theory to examine whether thwarted belonging, defined as the perceived discrepancy between one's desired and actual levels of belonging with respect to one's coworkers, predicts interpersonal work behaviors that are self-defeating. Controlling for demographic variables, job type, justice constructs, and trust in organization in a multilevel regression analysis using data from 130 employees of a clinical chemical laboratory and their supervisors, the authors found that employees who perceive greater levels of desired coworker belonging than actual levels of coworker belonging were more likely to engage in interpersonally harmful and less likely to engage in interpersonally helpful behaviors. Implications for the application of belongingness theory to explain self-defeating behaviors in organizations are discussed.