Friday, October 21, 2011


In a study done by Daniel B. Kennedy, Robert J. Homant and Michael R. Homant, the relationship between injustice and workplace aggression was examined. The experiment conducted utilized 139 subjects who were given a questionnaire to answer. The subjects taking the questionnaire were all from different backgrounds. According to statistics the subjects who took the questionnaire were: 69% females, 31% males; 53% African Americans, 37% Whites, 64% single, 27% married, 9% divorced, and 89% had a part time job or worked 15-18 hour jobs (329).

The Questionnaire

The questionnaire had four scenario subjects. Three of the scenarios were types of workplace injustices:
1. Distributive: ex: Restaurant chef denied a promised raise, despite his role in a restaurant.
2. Procedural: ex: Civil service worker, whose promotion was given to a boss’ friend instead.
3. Interpersonal: ex: Shift worker accused of leaving early and forced to stay until a replacement came.
The fourth scenario was a control group, to see how much people were influenced to be aggressive after an injustice. An example of a scenario was a salesman who lost a contest to two fellow workers who potentially could have cheated, but in reality did not cheat. Everyone was given awards, but he was angry because he did not receive the title of champion. The questions were then rated on two scales:
1. Scenario justice scale
2. Aggression rating scale: The scale was rated by choosing one from each category:
a) Direct or indirect
b) Passive or active
c) Verbal or physical
ex.: scenario: Someone helping himself to $100 worth of supplies in office
= someone could rate it by this scenario being: physical, active, and indirect.

The Results
1. Procedural injustice was perceived to have the highest level of injustice and most support for aggression.
2. Interpersonal injustice had more support for aggression than distribution injustice.
3. The control scenario had little support for aggressive behavior or injustice.
4. The greater the perception of injustice, the greater support for workplace aggression

My question is if the results were affected by the differences in the ratio of nationality, or gender. Would it have an affect on the aggressive behavior results? In addition, are there other reasons why there may be workplace aggression, such as one’s environment? How can an unfair situation or injustice, such as one’s raise being given away to a boss’ friend, affect one’s aggression?


  1. The assumption that “perceived injustice frequently generates hatred, anger, and a desire for revenge (Kennedy 326) considers a diverse group to keep the focus on workplace violence. The textbook analyses the cultures and aggression and found that there are societies where there aren’t even fistfights. The US is classified under a violent nation and when broken down shows according to an FBI amylases in 1999 “1 in 40 black males, 1 in 199 black females, are likely to be murdered in their lifetime, compared to 1 in 280 white males and 1 in 794 white females” (Kassin 395). It is also found that most murders are intra-racial rather than inter-racial.

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  3. Also, gender is a key factor in aggression. According to our textbook, disregarding all the cultural variations, there is one universal result and that is males are physically more violent than females. (Kassin 395) The research of John Archer and others, involving samples from various countries, show that males tend to act on their anger in aggressive ways more than females do. (Archer, 2004; Archer & Mehdikhani, 2003) However, another research done by Britt Gallen and Marion Underwood on adolescent girls and boys reveals that girls show aggression more indirectly or relationally. An example given in the textbook is targeting a persons relationships and social status. (Kassin 396) Therefore, the stereotype of men are always more aggressive is not necessarily a true statement when we consider specific individuals. I think both men and women experience aggression when faced with an unfair situation or injustice, but they reflect it differently.

  4. It is also important to consider the cultural variations in this questionnaire. As learned in the textbook, collectivist cultures are less likely to act aggressive. Despite the fact they may feel the same amount of anger within a certain situation, the fact that they are part of a collectivist culture may have affected these results.
    To give an example, it is stated that no Asians were tested, and it doesn't say the countries in which these participants were from.
    If such other collectivist cultured countries has participated perhaps there would have been a great disparity in the results. For examples many Asians coming from collectivist cultures may not choose to act on their aggression as they are conscious about the fact that they look out for the group dynamics and people around them and how their aggression would affect this, instead of just themselves, they are not specifically taught to be individualistic in this sense. Also, it is very much commonly thought that a sense of respect especially in such a circumstance (specifically in this case, a workplace where there is a clear difference in status) is prominent. Collectivist cultured workers are less likely to act out in aggression toward someone of a higher status in their workplace despite the fact that they may disagree with them. They may feel more obliged by their position in the workforce and adhere to this greatly.

  5. The frustration-aggression hypothesis is very important when looking at this study as well. The textbook explains that " Frustration produced by interrupting a person's progress toward an expected goal will always elicit the motive to aggress".

    The study tests the amount of aggression when in the workplace." Civil service worker, whose promotion was given to a boss’ friend instead." In this situation there is bound to be aggressive behavior because of the injustice that was occuring. The book outlines the hypothesis and states that "all aggression is caused by frustration". The book also goes onto explain "... we can't hit our boss". The situations in Kennedy's study are bound to elicit aggression because of the frustration building up in the hypothetical subject.

  6. How can an unfair situation or injustice, such as one’s raise being given away to a boss’ friend, affect one’s aggression?

    An answer to this question could also raise another, "would the aggression be heightened by other coworkers seeing the injustice and acting upon it"? I believe this to be true because of the textbook saying numerous times about the idea of the affects of others. When people are experiencing injustice and expressing it to each other, the feeling will be heightened by the agreement of the group.