Retaliation on a voodoo doll (symbolizing an abusive supervisor) restores justice [new study]

Mistreated by a supervisor at work? Would it make you feel a little bit better if you could, say, torment a voodoo doll?

Professor Lindie Hanyu Liang (at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada) and colleagues have investigated such things. In return for a $1 payment, 195 full-time employees living in the US or Canada participated in an experiment in which they were given the opportunity to retaliate (after recalling an abusive workplace scenario) against an online Voodoo Doll, provided by (“Your source for dumb stuff”) * see note below

“[…] we asked the participants to use the materials provided (e.g., pins, pliers, fire) on the doll over the next minute.”

It was found that the doll-tormenting did help (in some degree) to alleviate the negative feelings associated with recalling abusive supervision incidents. What are the practical implications?

“Although it is difficult to offer direct practical implications from our study, given that existing researches are suggestive that abusive supervision has a number of negative consequences (Tepper, 2007), our findings provide several indirect organizational implications for how some of these consequences may be alleviated. In particular, we have proposed and found that subordinate retaliation can directly influence subordinate justice perceptions. These findings suggest that retaliation not only benefits individual victims, but may also benefit the organization as a whole, given that justice perceptions is important for employee performance and well-being (Wright & Cropanzano, 1998; Wright, Cropanzano, & Bonett, 2007).”

See: Righting a wrong: Retaliation on a voodoo doll symbolizing an abusive supervisor restores justice in The Leadership Quarterly, Feb. 2018.

* Note :Those who wish to vent their frustrations by tormenting the Dumb Voodoo Doll may experience further vexation, as it requires Flash® to view/play, and many up-to-date browsers now disable Flash® by default due to security concerns.