Anger displays and integrative behavior among work dyads in teams: A regulatory fit approach

March L. To, Catherine K. Lam, Onne Janssen, Xiao Song Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Anger has often been portrayed as a destructive social emotion in the literature. However, research conducted with a social functional approach has also revealed the functionality of anger and called for a shift toward understanding the conditions in which anger can have interpersonal utility at work. Given the complicated role and inevitability of anger in work teams, it is important to understand when team members can reap the interpersonal utility of anger and promote adaptive social interactions. Contributing to this approach, we developed a contingency model to postulate when and why anger displays can produce integrative behavior among co-worker dyads in teams. Drawing on regulatory fit theory we conducted three studies (one laboratory study and two field studies with a round-robin design) to examine our hypotheses. Results indicated that co-workers' anger displays were positively related to focal workers' (targets of anger) integrative behavior toward angry co-workers (expressers) when targets had a high level of prevention focus and perceived a low level of team goal interdependence. As expected, moreover, targets' problem identification with expressers was found to be the mechanism of this conditional relationship. Implications of our research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Feb 2021

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