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J Appl Psychol. 2014 Sep;99(5):883-97. doi: 10.1037/a0036463. Epub 2014 Apr 14.

Roots run deep: Investigating psychological mechanisms between history of family aggression and abusive supervision.

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Research School of Management, The Australian National University.
Department of Management and Marketing, University of Dayton.
Department of Management, Clemson University.
Human Resource Management, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.


In this article, we examine the relationships between supervisor-level factors and abusive supervision. Drawing from social learning theory (Bandura, 1973), we argue that supervisors' history of family aggression indirectly impacts abusive supervision via both hostile cognitions and hostile affect, with angry rumination functioning as a first-stage moderator. Using multisource data, we tested the proposed relationships in a series of 4 studies, each providing evidence of constructive replication. In Study 1, we found positive relationships between supervisors' history of family aggression, hostile affect, explicit hostile cognitions, and abusive supervision. We obtained the same pattern of results in Studies 2, 3, and 4 using an implicit measure of hostile cognitions and controlling for previously established antecedents of abusive supervision. Angry rumination moderated the indirect relationship between supervisors' history of family aggression and abusive supervision via hostile affect only. Overall, the results highlight the important role of supervisor-level factors in the abusive supervision dynamics.

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