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Supervisory Gaslighting and Its Effects on Employee Affective Commitment

Caitlin Fulcher (The University of Queensland, Australia)
Neal M. Ashkanasy (The University of Queensland, Australia)

Emotions During Times of Disruption

ISBN: 978-1-80382-838-1, eISBN: 978-1-80382-837-4

Publication date: 20 January 2023



To date, research focus has been on overt forms of abusive supervision, like aggressive behavior and physical violence. Less clear is the effect of implicit abusive supervisory behaviors such as gaslighting, a form of psychological manipulation whereby a “gaslighter” seeks to confuse, disorientate, and cast doubt in the mind of a victim. In this study, we aim to examine the effects of supervisory gaslighting on employee's affective organizational commitment (AOC). We also investigate the mediating role of leader-member exchange (LMX) on this relationship and whether employee emotional intelligence (EI) buffers the negative effects of supervisory abuse.


Two hundred and sixty-six participants were allocated to one of three conditions (high, medium, and none) where they read workplace scenarios varying in the level of supervisory gaslighting. Afterward, participants responded to AOC, LMX, and EI scales.


Results showed supervisory gaslighting decreases employee AOC and that this relationship is partly explained by the employee's relationship with their supervisor. Contrary to expectations, higher employee EI strengthened the effect of gaslighting on AOC.


Supervisory gaslighting remains largely unexplored and this chapter contributes to this topic by testing a model to understand the effects of gaslighting on AOC. These findings provide a solid foundation for further research in this area.



Fulcher, C. and Ashkanasy, N.M. (2023), "Supervisory Gaslighting and Its Effects on Employee Affective Commitment", Troth, A.C., Ashkanasy, N.M. and Humphrey, R.H. (Ed.) Emotions During Times of Disruption (Research on Emotion in Organizations, Vol. 18), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 217-237.



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