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Understanding and mitigating cynicism in the workplace

Kristyn A. Scott (Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)
David Zweig (Management Department, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Canada)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 14 March 2016




Organizational cynicism is on the increase. The purpose of this paper is to explore how dispositions promote cynical attitudes and how to mitigate the negative impact of organizational cynicism for employees.


The data consisted of two samples (n=312 and n=529) of employed adults. All participants completed online surveys containing the variables of interest. The hypothesized model was tested using structural equation modeling.


Low levels of core self-evaluation (CSE) predict organizational cynicism which, in turn, mediates the relations between CSE and job attitudes. Importantly, the authors find that supervisory support moderates both the relations between CSE and organizational cynicism and organizational cynicism and job satisfaction.


Little research has directly assessed the role of dispositions in the development of organizational cynicism. The authors suggest that CSE contributes to the development of cynical attitudes. Further, the authors demonstrate that a supportive supervisor can serve as a buffer to mitigate the expression and effects of organizational cynicism on workplace outcomes.



Previous versions of the studies appearing in this paper were presented at the 2008 Conference of the Administrative Studies Association of Canada and appeared in the conference proceedings as well as the 2009 Academy of Management Conference. Support for these studies was provided by a Social Sciences and Humanities Council Standard Research Grant awarded to David Zweig. The authors would like to thank Samantha Hansen for her feedback on a previous version of this manuscript.


Scott, K.A. and Zweig, D. (2016), "Understanding and mitigating cynicism in the workplace", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 552-569.



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