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Scand J Psychol. 2012 Apr;53(2):165-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2011.00932.x. Epub 2011 Dec 11.

How does it feel? Workplace bullying, emotions and musculoskeletal complaints.

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Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.


The present study examines experienced emotions among self-labelled victims of ongoing workplace bullying and tests whether emotions mediate the relationship between exposure to bullying and health in the form of musculoskeletal complaints. A total of 1,024 employees from a Norwegian public transport company participated in the study, in which 116 self-labelled victims were identified. Ten positive and 10 negative emotions were measured (PANAS). The results showed significant differences in emotional experiences between victims and non-victims regarding all 10 negative emotions and one out of 10 positive emotions. Victims felt less "interested" and more "afraid," "upset," "angry," "guilty," "nervous," "hostile," "frustrated," "ashamed," "scared" and "stressed" than did non-victims. Further, the results pointed to both positive and negative emotions as mediators of the relationship between exposure to bullying and musculoskeletal complaints. In particular the negative emotion "stress" acted as a significant mediator regarding this relationship. Hence, emotions seem to be central to understanding the detrimental effects of bullying on the victims' health.

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