Subclinical psychopathy, interpersonal workplace exchanges and moral emotions through the lens of affective events theory (AET)

Boulter, Louise ORCID logoORCID: and Boddy, Clive (2021) Subclinical psychopathy, interpersonal workplace exchanges and moral emotions through the lens of affective events theory (AET). Journal of Organizational Effectiveness, 8 (1) . pp. 44-58. ISSN 2051-6614 [Article] (doi:10.1108/JOEPP-12-2019-0120)

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The purpose of this paper is to better comprehend the subclinical psychopath’s intra and interpersonal moral emotions in the context of their natural habitat, the workplace alongside implications for employees and organisations.

This study draws on Affective Events Theory (AET) to illuminate this dark-side phenomenon. Thematic analysis is used to identify themes from qualitative data collected from a small sample of interviews conducted with HRM Directors and other managers The findings show that the subclinical psychopath is agentic being unfettered by intra, self-directed conscious moral emotions. The predominant moral emotion directed at employees during interpersonal workplace exchanges, is typically anger. However, it appears likely the subclinical psychopath fakes this moral emotion as a smokescreen for manipulative and exploitative gains The predominant moral emotion directed by employees towards the subclinical psychopath is fear. Employees resort to avoidance and withdrawal behaviour and intentions to quit become a reality. This has pernicious implications for organisations in terms of productivity and effectiveness.

Notwithstanding the difficulties associated with this type of research and participants, future empirical testing is required.

HRM has an important role to play. The signalling quality of employees’ moral emotions and subsequent dysfunctional avoidance and withdrawal behaviour can provide valuable information to HRM in the detection of subclincial psychopaths which is acknowledged as notoriously difficult.

This study makes an important contribution to scholarship on subclincal psychopathy and makes novel use of Affective Events Theory (AET) to explore this personality type as a driver of employees’ negative workplace emotions, the impact on employees’ behaviour alongside implications for organisational effectiveness.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations
Item ID: 31490
Notes on copyright: © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited. This AAM is provided for your own personal use only. It may not be used for resale, reprinting, systematic distribution, emailing, or for any other commercial purpose without the permission of the publisher'
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Depositing User: Louise Boulter
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2020 23:47
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2023 18:51

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