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A Counterbalance to Supervisors' Abusive Feedbacks: When Employees' Strategic Emotional Intelligence Dampens Revenge Without Triggering Off Forgiveness Intentions

David Hampton-Musseau * (University of Toulouse Capitole - TSM-R, France)

Emotion in Organizations

ISBN: 978-1-83797-251-7, eISBN: 978-1-83797-250-0

Publication date: 29 January 2024



This study aims to contribute novel insights into understanding and mitigating the harmful consequences of abusive supervision (AS) by examining the association between AS experiences, revenge, forgiveness, and the moderating role of emotional intelligence (EI). The key argument is that employees' EI can influence the AS experience through affective processes, countering supervisors' abusive behaviors.


A between-person scenario-based experiment was conducted with 366 participants divided into AS and control groups. The study explored the association between AS experience and revenge/forgiveness, mediated by core affect (valence and activation). EI abilities were measured as a moderator. Data analysis examined the relationships and interactions among AS, revenge/forgiveness, EI, and affective experiences.


The study reveals significant findings indicating that AS experiences were positively associated with revenge and negatively associated with forgiveness. The mediation analysis confirmed the role of core affect in these relationships. EI emerged as a moderator, shaping the association between AS experiences and revenge/forgiveness. Importantly, participants with higher EI exhibited lower revenge intentions, demonstrating the potential of EI to mitigate the adverse effects of AS. Unexpectedly, individuals with high EI also expressed fewer forgiveness intentions.


This study provides a comprehensive understanding of how employees can effectively counterbalance the impact of AS through higher levels of strategic EI. Examining core affect as a mediator offers novel insights into coping mechanisms in response to AS experiences and their consequences.


The study acknowledges several limitations, as the scenarios may only partially capture the complexities of real-life AS situations. The focus on a specific context and the sample characteristics limit the generalizability of the findings. Future research should explore diverse organizational contexts and employ longitudinal designs.


The findings have practical implications for organizations as enhancing employees' EI skills through training programs interventions and integrating EI into organizational culture and leadership conduct.



Hampton-Musseau, D. (2024), "A Counterbalance to Supervisors' Abusive Feedbacks: When Employees' Strategic Emotional Intelligence Dampens Revenge Without Triggering Off Forgiveness Intentions", Ashkanasy, N.M., Troth, A.C. and Humphrey, R.H. (Ed.) Emotion in Organizations (Research on Emotion in Organizations, Vol. 19), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 85-116.



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