Looks shouldn’t matter, but they do, especially in the workplace. That’s the conclusion two researchers came to in a study about counterproductive work behavior (CWB), defined as “behavior intended to hurt the organization or other members of the organization.” They wanted to know why particular employees are targets of abuse.
“Over the years, much attention has been devoted to understanding CWB and its related concepts,” wrote Brent A. Scott and Timothy A. Judge in “Beauty, Personality, and Affect as Antecedents of Counterproductive Work Behavior Receipt.” “We tested a model that positioned CWB receipt as a function of employees’ personality (neuroticism, agreeableness), their appearance (physical attractiveness) and the negative emotions felt toward those employees by their coworkers.”
Two studies showed that disagreeable and physically unattractive employees received more abuse from their coworkers, coworker negative emotion felt toward employees was associated with CWB receipt, and the relationship between employee agreeableness and CWB receipt was due, in part, to coworker negative emotion, the authors write.
“For managers, knowing who the targets of harmful behaviors such as CWB are likely to be may help them to monitor susceptible employees to prevent them from becoming victims or to provide counseling and social support if prevention attempts fail,” Scott and Judge wrote. “For employees, although it is difficult to alter one’s physical attractiveness and, presumably, one’s level of agreeableness, employees should realize that, whether fair or unfair, appearances and personality matter in the workplace.”
(Image via Flickr: Lin Pernille Kristensen/Creative Commons)