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Healing the wounds of injustice : the effectiveness of writing interventions on the physiological, psychological,… Barclay, Laurie Jeanne 2006

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H E A L I N G T H E W O U N D S OF INJUSTICE: T H E EFFECTIVENESS OF WRITING INTERVENTIONS O N T H E PHYSIOLOGICAL, P S Y C H O L O G I C A L , A N D B E H A V I O R A L C O N S E Q U E N C E S OF WORKPLACE MISTREATMENT  by LAURIE JEANNE B A R C L A Y  A THESIS S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E D E G R E E OF D O C T O R OF PHILOSOPHY in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Business Administration) T H E UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A August 2006 © Laurie Jeanne Barclay, 2006  ABSTRACT  Workplace injustice can have profound negative effects on victims' physical and psychological health and their behavior on the job. To date, organizational justice research has tended to focus on various forms o f retaliatory reactions (e.g., theft, sabotage, reducing one's effort, badmouthing the organization and/or the boss), all o f which can have negative implications for the individual and the organization.  Research i n the trauma and coping literature has demonstrated that writing interventions (i.e., guided expressive writing) can have beneficial effects for victims by giving them the opportunity to vent emotions and seek meaning i n the event. In this dissertation, I explore the question: Can victims o f workplace unfairness "heal the wounds" o f injustice, defined i n terms o f reducing the negative physiological, psychological, and behavioral consequences associated with unfairness, by writing about the experience? Specifically, I (a) replicate previous writing interventions to experiences o f organizational injustice, (b) extend the intervention to consider fairness-related outcomes (i.e., victim's anger and retaliation), and (c) test whether incremental benefits derive from including perspective taking (i.e., considering the transgressor's perspective) i n the writing intervention.  Replicating procedures from previous research (e.g., Pennebaker & Beall, 1986), participants wrote about an unfair workplace experience for 20 minutes/day across four days i n one o f four conditions: emotions only, thoughts only, both emotions/thoughts, or a control condition. Three additional conditions were introduced involving perspective taking.  Consistent with previous research, the emotions and thoughts intervention provided the highest benefits to psychological well-being (i.e., general life satisfaction). Anger decreased i n all replication conditions, whereas retaliation intentions tended to vary across conditions.  The results indicated that perspective taking did not provide additional benefits to victims' outcomes over and above the emotions/thoughts condition. Although the perspective taking intervention resulted in less anger and fewer intentions to retaliate over time, the predicted changes regarding lower attributions o f blame or greater compassion toward the transgressor were not observed. The emotions/thoughts condition was found to be the most effective intervention, showing the strongest and most pervasive impact across the dependent variables.  T A B L E OF CONTENTS  Abstract  11  Table of Contents  i v  List of Tables  v i i  List of Figures  , x  Acknowledgements  x  CHAPTER 1: Introduction  1  CHAPTER 2: Literature Review and Hypotheses  9  2.1  Overview of the Writing Intervention  2.2  Why is Writing Effective ?  2.2.1 2.2.2 2.2.3 2.2.4  2.3 2.3.1 2.3.2  2.4 2.4.1 2.4.2  2.5 2.5.1 2.5.2  2.6 2.6.1 2.6.2  Emotional Processing and Exposure Inhibition and Emotional Release Cognitive Processing Summary o f Theoretical Models  Relating Writing Interventions to Experiences of Injustice  9 10 10 11 15 19  20  Similar Effects o f Traumas and Organizational Injustice on Physical Health and Psychological Weil-Being 21 Similar Mechanisms Underlying Traumas and Organizational Injustice: The Role of Emotion and Sensemaking 22  Writing about Injustices: Physiological and Psychological Outcomes Physiological Outcomes Psychological Well-being  Writing and Fairness: Moving Past the Injustice Emotional Outcomes Retaliation  Examining the Effectiveness of Perspective Taking in Writing Interventions Perspective Taking Theoretical Links Between Perspective Taking, Attributions, Emotions, and Behaviors  24 25 30  .<•'... 33 33 37  39 41 42  2.7  Combining Traditional Writing and Perspective Taking Interventions  50  2.8  Summary of Hypotheses  53  CHAPTER 3: Method  55  3.1  Participants  55  3.2  Background on Writing Intervention Methodologies  57  iv  3.2.1  Length o f Writing  58  3.2.2  Feedback  5  9  3.3  Overview of Current Methodology  59  3.4  Procedures  60  3.5  Measures  64  3.5.1 3.5.2  Dependent Variables Control Variables  64 66  CHAPTER 4: Results  68  4.1  Manipulation Checks  68  4.2  Analytic Strategy  68  Missing Data  69  4.2.1  4.3  Analyses  •  4.4  Additional Analyses  78  4.5  Summary of Results  79  CHAPTER 5: Discussion 5.1  71  82  Replicating the Effects of Writing on Physical Health and Psychological Well-Being with Experiences of Organizational Injustice 82  5.1.1 5.1.2  5.2 5.2.1 5.2.2  5.3 5.3.1 5.3.2  Physical Symptoms Psychological Well-Being (General Life Satisfaction)  83 87  Extending the Intervention to Fairness Related Outcomes  89  Anger-Related Emotions Retaliation  90 92  The Effects of Perspective Taking  96  Impact o f Perspective Taking on Attributions, Emotions and Behaviors Comparing Perspective Taking Interventions W i t h Traditional Writing Interventions  5.4  Combining Perspective Taking and Writing involving Emotions and Thoughts  5.5  Theoretical Implications and Avenues for Future Research  5.5.1 5.5.2 5.5.3 5.5.4 5.5.5  5.6 5.6.1  Manager- versus Employee-Centered Perspectives The Dark Side o f Injustice Event versus Entity Justice Judgments The Role o f the V i c t i m ' s Motivation to "Put it Behind" Them Effectiveness o f Writing on the Different Dimensions and Sources o f Organizational Injustice  Practical Implications Using the Intervention: A Word o f Caution  96 100  104 105 105 107 1.10 112 114  116 117  5.7  Limitations  118  5.8  Conclusion  120 v  References  is*  Appendices  173  Appendix A: Ethics Approval  173  Appendix B: Ethics Renewal  174  vi  LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Organizational Justice Items and Reliabilities  122  Table 2: Means, Standard Deviations, and Significance Tests o f Differences across Conditions at the Initial Session for Organizational Justice Variables 123 Table 3: L I W C Analysis o f Proportion o f Negative Emotion Words i n Writing Samples  124  Table 4: Means and Standard Deviations for the Initial Session, Final Writing Session, and 1-Month F o l l o w - U p  125  Table 5: Inter-Correlations Between Study Variables  126  Table 6: Analysis o f Variance for Self-Report Physical Symptoms (Traditional Writing Intervention Conditions)  128  Table 7: Analysis o f Variance for General Life Satisfaction (Traditional Writing Intervention Conditions) 129 Table 8: Between Subject Effects at the Conclusion o f the Writing Intervention: General Life Satisfaction 130 Table 9: M e a n Differences Between Conditions at the Conclusion o f the Writing Intervention: General Life Satisfaction  131  Table 10: Between Subject Effects at the 1-Month Follow-Up: General Life Satisfaction  132  Table 11: M e a n Differences Between Conditions at the 1-Month F o l l o w - U p : General Life Satisfaction  133  Table 12: Analysis o f Variance for Anger Emotions (Traditional Writing Intervention Conditions)  134  Table 13: Analysis o f Variance for Retaliation (Traditional Writing Intervention Conditions) 135 Table 14: Between Subject Effects at the Conclusion o f the Writing Intervention: Retaliation 136 Table 15: M e a n Differences Between Conditions at the Conclusion o f the Writing Intervention: Retaliation 137 Table 16: Analysis o f Variance for Attributions o f Blame (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions)  138  Table 17: Analysis o f Variance for Compassion Emotions (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions)  139  vii  Table 18: Between Subject Effects at the Conclusion o f the Writing Intervention for Compassion (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions) 140 Table 19: Analysis o f Variance for Anger Emotions (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions)  141  Table 20: Analysis o f Variance for Retaliation (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions) 142 Table 21: Between Subject Effects at the Conclusion o f the Writing Intervention for Retaliation (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions) 143 Table 22: M e a n Differences at the Conclusion o f the Writing Intervention for Retaliation Between Conditions (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions)  144  Table 23: Analysis o f Variance for Reconciliation (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions)  145  Table 24: Analysis o f Variance for Self-Report Physical Symptoms (Perspective Taking Only, Perspective Taking with Emotions and Thoughts, Emotions and Thoughts with Perspective Taking, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions) 146 Table 25: Analysis o f Variance for General Life Satisfaction (Perspective Taking Only, Perspective Taking with Emotions and Thoughts, Emotions and Thoughts with Perspective Taking, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions)  147  Table 26: Between Subject Effects at the Conclusion o f the Writing Intervention for General Life Satisfaction (Perspective Taking Only, Perspective Taking with Emotions and Thoughts, Emotions and Thoughts with Perspective Taking, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions) 148 Table 27: Mean Differences Between Conditions at the Conclusion o f the Writing Intervention: General Life Satisfaction 149 Table 28: Analysis o f Variance for Retaliation (Perspective Taking Only, Perspective Taking with Emotions and Thoughts, Emotions and Thoughts with Perspective Taking, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions) 150 Table 29: Analysis o f Variance for Reconciliation (Perspective Taking Only, Perspective Taking with Emotions/Thoughts, Emotions/Thoughts with Perspective taking, Emotions/Thoughts, and Control Conditions) 151 Table 30: Potential Mechanisms Underlying the Writing Intervention  152  vin  LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1: The Effects o f Writing on General Life Satisfaction  153  ix  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  This dissertation represents the end o f a chapter i n a 6-year journey through grad school. The journey has been a challenging and intellectually stimulating process and would not have been nearly as enjoyable and productive without the support and guidance o f many people along the way.  I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for each o f my committee members: Daniel Skarlicki, Peter Darke, the late Peter Frost, Sandra Robinson, and M a r c - D a v i d Seidel. Daniel Skarlicki, my long-time mentor, who initially sparked my passion for organizational justice research and spent so much time along the way teaching me how to tend and nurture the fire. Peter Darke, whose endless knowledge o f psychological theories, ability to put them to put them together i n creative and unique ways, and methodological prowess continues to amaze me. The late Peter Frost, whose support and encouragement not only helped me navigate the bumps and obstacles o f grad school but also taught me the importance o f courage and compassion. Sandra Robinson, who always challenged me to push my thinking further and deeper than I thought was possible. Marc-David Seidel, whose keen insights and wisdom helped me work through some o f the study's complex issues and whose wit helped me laugh and see the silver lining on even the most difficult o f problems.  I would also like to acknowledge the support and guidance I received from other faculty members, colleagues, friends, and family throughout my graduate school career. Ralph Hakstian, who helped me begin my grad school journey and has always been there for me. Darren Dahl,  who generously allowed me to borrow his lab space over the many, many months o f intensive data collection. Tina Kiefer and Sally Maitlis, who provided much guidance, advice, and wisdom along the way. Graham Brown, whose friendship, support, and uncanny ability to know when I needed to commiserate over a green tea helped me make it through the process. T o m y parents, John and Jeanne Barclay, and grandparents, Audrey and Bob Etherington, for their unconditional support and pride i n whatever I choose to do.  Finally, to Daniel Brady, my partner o f 10 years, who shared all o f the ups and downs on the journey and was always there to wipe my tears in tough times and celebrate my successes, whether they were large or small. I could not have done this without you.  CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION I am letting it "eat" at me. I hate him for what he did to me, I really do. The mere thought of him causes me heartburn, and I am constantly thinking about him. Sometimes my colleagues find me mumbling to myself, and this causes them to worry about me. Each day, I live with knots in my stomach, resenting his very being. I want him to suffer ...forever. -Manager, telecommunications company (Bies & Tripp, 2002: 204)  Injustices are ubiquitous i n today's workplaces (Bies & Tripp, 2002). A s the passage describes, the experience o f injustice can be painful and difficult to overcome. Experiencing an injustice i n the workplace can have profound cognitive, emotional, and behavioral consequences. Cognitively, individuals are motivated to make sense o f the experience and attribute responsibility (Folger & Cropanzano, 1998; 2001). Emotionally, individuals often experience injustice as a "hot and burning experience" which engenders emotions such as anger, rage, shame, and guilt (Bies & Moag, 1986; Bies & Tripp, 2002; M i k u l a , 1986; Weiss, Suckow, & Cropanzano, 1999). Behaviorally, individuals can seek to "right the wrong" by engaging i n retaliation (Skarlicki & Folger, 1997).  Although victims can react against the unfairness i n a number o f different ways, justice researchers have focused primarily on the "dark side" o f unfairness, including victims' attempts to "right the wrong" through retaliation (Allred, 1999, 2000; Skarlicki & Folger, 1997) or revenge (Bies & Tripp, 1996). Individuals often believe that retaliation can help them restore justice and deal with the strong negative emotions, such as anger, that are typically experienced i n response to a negative event (Allred, 1999; Bies & Tripp, 1996; 2002). There is no evidence, however, to demonstrate that retaliation can help victims heal the psychological and emotional wounds inflicted by the injustice. Additionally,  1  retaliation can also have negative implications for individuals and organizations (Folger & Skarlicki, 2005). This raises the question: Can victims of unfairness heal the wounds of  injustice on their own and thereby mitigate the negative physical, psychological, and behavioral consequences associated with experiencing workplace injustice?  Retaliation and behaviors aimed at "evening the score" can often be motivated out o f a desire to restore the balance of justice and bring a sense o f resolution to the event (Bies & Tripp, 2002). A n assumption underlying the present dissertation, however, is that victims might not need to rely on retaliation to resolve an injustice. Instead, resolution can occur, at least in part, when victims develop an understanding o f the event or engage i n behaviors aimed at reconciliation rather than retaliation. That is, victims could overcome an injustice by trying to heal their wounds rather than "evening the score" or inflicting injuries on others. Moreover, victims can be motivated to seek out these alternative avenues to resolution. Pennebaker (1993, 1997a), for instance, argued that victims are compelled to develop an understanding o f why the event occurred since unresolved negative experiences consume physical as well as mental energy and are associated with stress reactions.  Referent cognitions theory (Folger, 1987; 1993) suggests that victims o f organizational injustices are motivated to engage i n sensemaking. Thinking through an unfair situation, however, can be difficult because it often requires victims to actively consider why the unfair event happened, which in turn can (re)-activate the negative emotions associated with the experience. Although individuals can turn to others to help them process unfair situations, individuals are often reluctant to draw upon social support (e.g., co-workers,  2  friends, or family members) to deal with unfair situations because they feel embarrassed. Individuals can also find that sharing the experience with others still leaves unresolved issues for a variety o f reasons including the inability to fully explore their thoughts and feelings about the experience with the other person or they find that the other person cannot help them through the situation. This, i n turn, can impede their willingness to seek out others as well as hinder their attempts to work through their o w n thoughts and feelings.  Pennebaker and colleagues (Pennebaker, 1993, 1997a; Pennebaker & Beall, 1986) demonstrated that individuals can effectively cope with unresolved negative events through writing about their experience. Specifically, writing about one's thoughts and feelings can help individuals overcome a negative experience because it allows them to confront the situation, engage in sensemaking, and express their emotions. Although the writing intervention has traditionally been applied to traumas (e.g., with rape victims, Holocaust survivors) (e.g., Pennebaker, 1989; 1997a; Pennebaker, Barger, & Tiebout, 1989), the benefits o f writing have also been demonstrated with relatively less traumatic experiences, such as entering college (Pennebaker, Colder, & Sharp 1990) and layoffs (Spera, Buhrfeind, & Pennebaker, 1994). Spera et al. (1994), for instance, found that when lay-off victims wrote about their thoughts and feelings about being downsized, they were more likely to be re-employed by another company than individuals who did not write about the situation. The authors proposed that those individuals who wrote about their thoughts and feelings were able to vent their negative emotions about the situation, and were therefore less likely to do so in their interviews with prospective new  3  employers. Other than Spera et al. (1994), however, no other published studies have focused on workplace events.  A primary purpose o f this dissertation is to integrate writing interventions into an organizational justice framework. This objective entails exploring (a) whether the effects observed previously for writing interventions generalize to workplace injustice (i.e., mitigate the negative impact o f unfairness in the workplace on individuals' physical health and psychological well-being), and (b) whether writing interventions can impact justice-related outcomes, including attributions, emotions (e.g., anger), and behaviors (e.g., retaliation). It is expected that writing interventions w i l l be effective for organizational injustices because violations o f fairness involve emotional and cognitive processes that have been found to be theoretically linked to achieving the benefits associated with expressive writing.  A second purpose o f this dissertation is to extend previous research by exploring whether incorporating perspective taking into the writing intervention increases its effectiveness for experiences o f workplace injustice. Perspective taking refers to an individual's attempt to understand another's experience; it involves placing oneself i n another's shoes and trying to comprehend his or her point o f view (Davis, 1983a; 1983b; Hoffman, 1975). Perspective taking has been shown to alter individuals' attributions o f blame for negative events as well as give individuals a better understanding o f the situation (e.g., Takaku, 2001). Thus, perspective taking might also help individuals diminish angerrelated emotions (since they are less likely to blame the transgressor) as well as the desire to retaliate. Previous research, however, has not considered this possibility.  4  This dissertation aims to contribute to the justice literature i n at least four ways. First, research, to date, has tended to focus on justice from the perspective o f the organization or manager, and i n particular, how organizations and managers can prevent injustice or mitigate employees' reactions to unfair situations (Bies & Tripp, 2002). Despite calls for justice research that seeks to understand the experience o f injustice from the victim's perspective and provides insight into how victims can manage their own experience o f injustice (e.g., Shapiro, 2001), few studies have investigated the steps victims can take to mitigate the negative consequences associated with experiencing injustice, and specifically, whether there are tools that victims o f organizational injustice can use to deal with the experience. The present research explores the utility o f writing interventions in dealing with unjust events and tests whether this intervention mitigates the physical, psychological, and behavioral consequences o f injustice.  Second, although justice scholars have long argued for the importance o f emotions i n the experience o f injustice (e.g., Homans 1961, Bies & Moag, 1986), the emotions associated with workplace injustice have been largely under-researched (Weiss et al., 1999). The studies that have examined emotions have been largely correlational and have examined emotions as an outcome o f experiencing injustice (e.g., Cropanzano, Weiss, Suckow, & Grandey, 2000; Krehbiel & Cropanzano, 2000) or as a mediator between perceptions o f fairness and the tendency to retaliate (Barclay, Skarlicki, & Pugh, 2005; A l l r e d , 2000). Few studies, however, have examined the functional consequences o f releasing emotion. This study investigates whether venting negative emotions associated with an injustice, in the form o f writing about one's experience, can reduce negative physical, psychological, and behavioral outcomes (i.e., retaliation).  Third, research to date has focused on reactions involving the "dark side o f injustice," such as retaliation. Scholars such as Bies and Tripp (1996) have noted, however, that retaliation is only one o f many behavioral reactions that individuals can have to injustice. Victims o f injustice, for example, can also choose to forgive, do nothing, or even just ruminate. In recent years, movements such as positive psychology have demonstrated the importance o f understanding these alternatives. Little research, however, has explored the processes that can lead to reconciliation within an organizational justice framework. This study explores potential mechanisms that can affect an individual's decision to engage in retaliation or reconciliation.  Fourth, integrating the writing intervention into a justice framework can potentially provide additional opportunities to improve the effectiveness o f the intervention. Justice theory and research has uncovered several mechanisms that can be particularly relevant to experiences o f workplace injustice. Specifically, attributions o f blame have been argued to be central to perceptions o f workplace injustice (Folger & Cropanzano, 1998; 2001). I explore whether incorporating perspective taking, which targets attributions o f blame, can improve the effectiveness o f writing interventions for experiences o f organizational injustice.  Moreover, this dissertation also aims to contribute to the writing intervention literature in at least two ways. First, the measures used i n previous research have been criticized on a number o f different grounds. Sloan and Marx (2004a), for instance, argued that it is difficult to compare findings across studies because there has been great variability i n the measures used. More importantly, the measures used are often questionable, with some  6  investigators relying on single-item measures, unpublished measures, and/or measures that have not been validated. The sensitivity (e.g., ability to capture differences across time) and appropriateness o f previous measures has also been questioned. On-campus doctor visits, for example, have been the primary measure for physical health outcomes. This measure, however, has been cited for lack o f sensitivity (e.g., the majority o f participants do not report health care visits despite reporting physical symptoms and sick days during the same time period) and contamination (e.g., the number o f doctor visits are affected by individual differences and other factors such as accidents) (Pennebaker, 1994; Sloan & M a r x , 2004b). Accordingly, there have been numerous calls for writing intervention studies that include psychometrically sound self-report measures (Meads & Nouwen, 2005; Sloan & Marx, 2004). In this dissertation, I use validated self-report measures o f physical health and psychological-well-being.  Second, although the writing intervention has been widely publicized as having beneficial effects on physical and psychological health, Meads and Nouwen (2005) questioned the effectiveness o f the writing intervention and whether this reputation is deserved. In their meta-analysis, Meads and Nouwen found that studies o f the writing intervention have been susceptible to publication and selective reporting biases as well as hampered by the quality o f the reporting. W i t h respect to the former issue, studies involving physically healthy students and those where results have shown no significant differences i n the outcome measures have been particularly vulnerable to the "file drawer problem." W i t h respect to the latter issue, the authors noted that many o f the studies failed to provide complete information either by failing to: (a) report outcomes that were measured (i.e., approximately a third o f outcomes that were measured in studies were not reported), (b)  7  provide statistical tests o f the results, (c) appropriately describe the sample used, or (d) provide descriptive statistics such as means, standard deviations, variances etc. They argued that more rigorous empirical research is needed in order to determine the effectiveness o f the intervention. In this dissertation, the writing intervention is examined with participants recruited from a university campus, using both validated measures and statistical tests to explore the effectiveness o f the various writing conditions.  This dissertation consists o f five chapters. In Chapter 2,1 provide a literature review o f the writing intervention, organizational justice, and perspective taking as well as develop the hypotheses. In Chapter 3,1 outline the research methodology. The results are presented in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 contains a detailed discussion o f the results as well as limitations and directions for future research.  8  CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW AND HYPOTHESES  In the following sections, I provide an overview o f the writing intervention, followed by a discussion o f the theoretical mechanisms that explain its effectiveness. I then relate the writing intervention to organizational justice and explore why the effects o f writing should replicate for organizational justice violations, thereby increasing the victim's physical and psychological health. I also provide hypotheses for the relationship between writing and additional fairness-related outcomes such as anger-related emotions and retaliation. Next, I provide an overview o f the perspective taking literature and how it relates to both the writing intervention and perceptions o f organizational justice. I also develop hypotheses regarding how incorporating perspective taking into the writing intervention can affect justice-related outcomes.  2.1  Overview of the Writing Intervention  Pennebaker and colleagues (e.g., Pennebaker, 1993; 1997a; Pennebaker & Beall, 1986) developed the writing intervention within the context o f traumatic life experiences. Briefly summarized, research examining the writing intervention has found that, as a result o f participating i n the intervention, individuals who express their thoughts and feelings about a negative experience have better physical and psychological health. Although there have been variations in the structure o f the intervention, participants in the typical study write for approximately 20-30 minutes on the same topic, across 4 days (for a detailed discussion, see Methods section). Participants are assigned to one o f four  9  conditions i n which they write about: a trivial topic (control condition), their emotions, their thoughts, or both their emotions and thoughts surrounding a negative experience.  2.2  Why is Writing Effective?  Most research on writing interventions has focused on demonstrating its effectiveness rather than uncovering the underlying mechanisms. Although it is still unclear why this paradigm is effective, three theoretical approaches have been discussed, to varying degrees, i n the literature: emotional processing/exposure, inhibition/emotional release, and cognitive processing (Pennebaker, 1997b; Sloan & Marx, 2004a).  2.2.1  Emotional Processing and Exposure  Several researchers have argued that the effectiveness o f the writing intervention is due to repeated exposure to aversive stimuli, and subsequent emotional processing (e.g., Lepore, Greenberg, Bruno, & Smyth, 2002; Sloan & Marx, 2004b). Drawing upon classical conditioning theories (e.g., H u l l , 1950; Pavlov, 1927; Spence, 1936), scholars have argued that when individuals experience negative events such as traumas, it elicits an unconditioned response (e.g., fear and arousal) (Lepore et al., 2002; Sloan & M a r x , 2004b). Similar to the inhibition theories discussed below, individuals seek to avoid or suppress any memories, thoughts, or emotions associated with the negative experience since these can activate fear and arousal. In this paradigm, the writing intervention is believed to work because it provides a context in which individuals are repeatedly exposed to the negative situation (i.e., aversive stimuli) that had previously been avoided.  10  Although repeated exposure in the writing sessions initially activates fear and arousal, individuals are also given the opportunity to process these emotions rather than avoiding or suppressing them. This, in turn, can extinguish the link between the situation and the fear/arousal that results when individuals think or express their feelings about the situation. In other words, writing provides a safe context for individuals to explore their thoughts and feelings about the experience, which, i n turn, can reduce the fear and arousal related to the situation. Moreover, since the fear and arousal associated with the situation is diminished, individuals do not experience these aversive reactions when memories, thoughts, emotions, or reminders associated with the negative experience arise. Thus, the writing intervention can help attenuate the distress caused by the negative situation because it overcomes the individuals' tendency to avoid or suppress distressing memories, emotions, or thoughts associated with the experience, which, i n turn, allows them to emotionally and/or cognitively process the event.  Although this theoretical approach suggests that the writing intervention is effective because it repeatedly exposes individuals to the negative situation, it is the emotional and/or cognitive processing (as discussed i n the sections below) that takes place as a result o f this repeated exposure that is believed to result in the beneficial outcomes associated with writing.  2.2.2  Inhibition and Emotional Release  When individuals experience a negative event, they are motivated to understand and resolve it (Pennebaker, 1997a), in part, because unfinished business tends to be  11  remembered better than resolved situations (e.g., L e w i n , 1935). Resolution, however, requires individuals to understand and/or attach meaning to the negative experience—a process that requires individuals to actively think about the experience (Pennebaker, 1993; 1997a). Thinking about and processing a negative experience, however, can reactivate negative emotions associated with the situation, which can be unpleasant or uncomfortable for the individual, particularly i f the situation is viewed as self-threatening (e.g., Lazarus, 1991; Pennebaker, 1997a).  Individuals often cope with unresolved situations by inhibiting or suppressing their thoughts and feelings about the negative event (Pennebaker, 1997a). Inhibition has been defined as an active process involving the conscious withholding or suppression o f thoughts, feelings, or behaviors (Pennebaker, 1989; 1993). Although individuals can use this process as a way o f coping with and avoiding the negative effects o f the situation, the act o f inhibition consumes physical and mental energy, which over time, can place stress on the body and have damaging psychological and physiological consequences.  Psychologically, inhibition influences both thinking and emotions. When individuals inhibit their thoughts about a negative experience, the ability to cognitively process or work through aspects o f the distressing situation is limited (Pennebaker, 1997a). Cognitive processing is generally associated with better understanding, as well as the ability to assimilate the adverse event into larger experiences and think about the event in a broad, integrative manner. Focused thought can help individuals organize, assimilate or give meaning to the event (e.g., Horowitz, 1976; Silver & Wortman, 1980). Selfdisclosure helps translate the event into language, which allows feelings and thoughts to  12  become more concrete and easier to deal with (Jourard; 1971; Pennebaker, 1997a). Failing to engage i n cognitive processing not only blocks self-understanding and resolution o f the experience, but it is also associated with a tendency to experience increased rumination, dreams, and thought disturbances (Pennebaker, 1993; 1997a).  Physiologically, inhibition requires physiological work to suppress the thoughts and emotions associated with the negative experience (e.g., Pennebaker, 1997b). Specifically, inhibition is associated with short-term biological changes attributable to increased physiological arousal and autonomic nervous system activity (e.g., Pennebaker, 1997a; 1997b). The autonomic nervous system controls functions such as blood pressure, breathing rate, and is responsible for the fight-or-flight mechanism that is activated when individuals encounter stressful stimuli. Over time, increases in autonomic activity can serve as a cumulative stressor, undermining the body's defenses and negatively impacting immune function, heart and vascular systems, as well as biochemical workings o f the brain and nervous system. In other words, inhibition can act as a long-term low-grade stressor (cf. Selye, 1976), which can cause or exacerbate psychosomatic processes by stressing the body, undermining its defenses, and increasing the risk o f illness (Pennebaker, 1989; 1997a; 1997b; 1997c). Empirical evidence supports the contention that the act o f inhibition is associated with health problems. Studies have found, for instance, that individuals who hide their homosexuality (Cole, Kemeny, Taylor, & Visscher, 1996) or are considered shy by others (e.g., Kagan, Reznick, & Sniderman, 1988) tend to have more health problems than those who are less inhibited.  13  Although inhibition is associated with a number o f deleterious physiological and psychological effects, implicit within the inhibition framework is the notion that confronting negative experiences can prevent or reduce the negative effects o f inhibition (Pennebaker, 1982). Confrontation, defined as actively thinking and/or talking about significant experiences as well as acknowledging relevant emotions, is believed to negate the effects o f inhibition because it reduces the physiological work o f inhibition and, over time, can decrease the overall stress on the body (Pennebaker, 1997c). Specifically, at a physiological level, confrontation can be associated with a reduction i n autonomic activity since individuals do not dwell on the situation or continue to re-experience negative emotions. Over time, the reduction in autonomic activity can lower the incidence o f stress-related diseases.  Confrontation alone, however, has not been found to be a sufficient way to improve health (Pennebaker, 1997a). Individuals who have engaged i n prior disclosure (i.e., have confronted the situation by telling others about a personal trauma) have been found to benefit as much from writing as individuals who wrote about traumas they had previously kept secret (Greenberg & Stone, 1992). Thus, the act o f confrontation is not the central mechanism that is responsible for increased physiological and psychological benefits.  A key component o f confrontation, and the subsequent reduction o f inhibition, is the release o f emotional tension (e.g., the venting o f one's emotions) (Pennebaker, 1997a). This is similar to Breuer and Freud's (1895/1966) position that physiological symptoms are often rooted in individuals' failure to express the emotions associated with repressed memories, whereas abreaction, defined as the release or expression o f emotional tension,  14  can act as a preventative and curative measure. From this theoretical framework, writing is effective because it is cathartic and releases emotional tension. Interestingly, a majority of laypersons (e.g., 89% based on a sample size o f 1024) endorsed the view that talking or writing about emotional experiences is relieving (Zech, 2000). Specifically, individuals rated the expression o f emotions as more useful, relieving (e.g., made them feel good), and helpful (e.g., assigned meaning to the situation) than individuals who discussed the facts o f the experience (Zech, 1999, 2000). Research, however, has demonstrated that although emotional expression is necessary for experiencing positive health benefits, it alone is not sufficient for producing change (e.g., Murray, Lamnin, & Carver, 1989; Pennebaker & Beall, 1986).  Thus, research has demonstrated that inhibition/confrontation and the release o f emotions alone cannot fully account for the relationship between writing and health. Lack o f support for this model has led researchers to shift their attention toward other mechanisms, i n particular, cognitive processing (Sloan & M a r x , 2004a).  2.2.3  Cognitive Processing  Another explanation for the effectiveness o f the writing intervention is cognitive processing. The basic tenet underlying this approach is that writing allows individuals to structure and organize the event in their mind, gain additional insights, and ultimately assimilate the event into their larger experiences (e.g., Pennebaker, 1997a-c). Specifically, writing helps translate the event into language and once the event is language-based, individuals are better able to understand and assimilate the experience.  15  This approach has been intricately linked with emotional release (as discussed above), such that cognitive processing has been argued to be easier and more effective when it is combined with the release o f emotions. Specifically, individuals are better able to cognitively process and/or rethink the situation when their emotions are less potent. Thus, effective cognitive processing occurs when (a) emotions are released and/or do not impede cognitive processing and (b) individuals are able to organize and structure their thoughts about the situation, thereby creating a narrative. A s noted above, although emotional expression has been found to be necessary for experiencing positive health benefits, it alone is not sufficient for producing change (e.g., Murray et al., 1989; Pennebaker & Beall, 1986). Instead, in this paradigm, it is the change associated with the rethinking o f events and the creation o f a narrative that is associated with the benefits o f writing (e.g., Pennebaker & Beall, 1986).  Empirical evidence supports the relationship between emotions and cognitive processing. Pennebaker (1997a) noted that in initial writing sessions, participants' writing tended to be quite emotionally laden. Repeated confrontation through multiple writing sessions, however, was associated with a reduction in emotional assessments o f the situation. A s emotions became less strong, individuals were better able to cognitively process and/or rethink the situation. Murray et al. (1989) also found support for this contention. They tracked the relationship between writing about traumatic experiences and changes i n emotion and cognition over the course o f two 30-minute writing sessions and found that during the first session, participants typically engaged in a strong expression o f emotion but experienced few changes in thinking. Writing in the second session, however, was associated with slightly less emotion and more changes i n the way that the individual  16  thought about the situation. Thus, within the writing framework, emotional expression is thought to facilitate cognitive processing o f the memory or event. Cognitive processing, in turn, is associated with both affective and physiological change (e.g., Donnelly & Murray, 1991; Pennebaker, 1989; 1993). Moreover, multiple writing sessions are required i n order to find significant effects for writing because individuals must have sufficient time to move beyond their emotions and toward cognitively processing the event.  When individuals cognitively process negative situations, they translate the negative experience into language (i.e., put their story into words). A s processing continues, individuals exhibit a natural tendency to create a narrative (i.e., construct a story) o f the event (Pennebaker, 1997a). Within the writing paradigm, individuals are asked to write about the same event multiple times. That is, individuals create and re-create the narrative over subsequent sessions. This repeated creation o f the narrative is associated with changes i n how individuals tell the story as well as which aspects o f the story are highlighted. A s noted above, initially, stories tended to be emotionally laden and contain many extraneous details (Pennebaker, 1997a). Over time, however, the story changes as individuals drop the irrelevant issues or tangential impressions and begin to highlight and analyze the central features o f the situation. That is, when repeatedly retold, the story becomes shorter and more concise. Moreover, the writer often becomes more detached and is able to stand back and consider the complexities o f the event, the antecedents and consequences, as well as their own emotions. In other words, translating an event into language can alter the way that is represented and understood. Moreover, as individuals  17  come to better understand the event and attach meaning to it, they are better able to assimilate it into their larger experiences.  Another benefit o f cognitive processing is that it can make the event seem less overwhelming because the central issues have been identified (Pennebaker, 1997a). Moreover, individuals might not feel as compelled to think about it. Analogous to the way that compiling important errands into a to-do list can help individuals focus on other things (rather than worrying about forgetting the items), writing about the event can help individuals summarize the event so that they do not need to think about all o f the minor details.  Support for the cognitive processing model has been provided by studies involving linguistic indices, which examine the relationship between the types o f words individuals used i n essays and their health (e.g., Pennebaker & Francis, 1996; Pennebaker, Mayne, & Francis, 1997). Specifically, individuals showed improvements i n health i f they experienced cognitive change during the writing. Cognitive change has typically been defined as the increased use over time o f words that reflect self-reflective thinking (e.g., realize, understand, think, consider), or causal thinking (e.g., cause, effect, reason, and because) (Pennebaker, 1993; Pennebaker & Francis, 1996; Pennebaker, Mayne, & Francis, 1997). The conclusion o f this research is that the individuals who benefit the most from writing are those who are actively constructing and re-constructing stories about the event because this facilitates cognitive change during the writing. Those individuals who started writing sessions with a clear, coherent, and well-organized story (i.e., experienced little cognitive change) rarely showed any health improvements.  18  Although there have been some empirical findings that support this model, the cognitive processing approach has been criticized for a variety o f reasons. In addition to the difficulty with measuring cognitive change, the evidence supporting this theory has been correlational and it is possible that the changes observed in language may be associated with other mechanisms o f change (i.e., there is a third variable explaining the relationship) (Sloan & M a r x , 2004a). Moreover, the evidence provided for this model has been equivocal since cognitive changes have also been observed i n the absence o f physical or psychological improvements (e.g., Batten et al., 2002).  2.2.4  Summary of Theoretical Models  Although three models have been proposed to explain why the writing intervention is effective, inhibition/emotional release and cognitive processing have received the most attention (Sloan & M a r x , 2004a). These two models, however, have received mixed support and it is still unclear exactly how and why the intervention can produce beneficial outcomes. To date, empirical research supports the contention that writing about a traumatic experience is effective because (a) it allows individuals to confront the experience, which decreases physical and psychological demands o f inhibition on the individual, (b) it allows individuals to engage in emotional expression and "vent" their feelings, (c) when emotions are less potent the individual can begin working through their thoughts about the event (cognitively process the event), (d) thinking about an event is associated with the creation o f a narrative, and (e) narratives allow individuals to attach meaning and assimilate the event into their larger experiences.  19  2.3  Relating Writing Interventions to Experiences of Injustice  Organizational justice is defined as individuals' perceptions o f fairness in organizational settings. Organizational justice is related to important attitudinal and behavioral consequences. Perceptions o f fairness, for instance, are positively related to job satisfaction (Folger & Konovsky, 1989), organizational commitment (McFarlin & Sweeney, 1992), trust (Tyler & L i n d , 1992), and organizational citizenship behavior (Moorman, 1991; Skarlicki & Latham, 1996). Perceptions o f unfairness, on the other hand, are related to intentions to leave the organization (Sweeney & M c F a r l i n , 1997), turnover (Aquino, Griffeth, A l l e n , & Horn, 1997), employee theft (Greenberg, 1993), and retaliatory behaviors (Skarlicki & Folger, 1997).  Justice research has shown that employees' fairness judgments are a function o f the perceived fairness o f outcomes received (distributive justice) (Adams, 1965), the procedures used to derive outcomes (procedural justice) (Leventhal, Karuza, & Fry, 1980; Thibaut & Walker, 1975), and the manner i n which procedures are implemented and communicated (interactional justice) (e.g., Bies & Moag, 1986). Interactional justice has been further defined in terms o f treatment reflecting dignity, respect, and sensitivity (interpersonal justice) and providing an adequate explanation for the decisions (informational justice) (Greenberg, 1990) (for a meta-analytic review, see Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & N g , 2001).  In this dissertation, I proposed that applying the writing intervention to organizational justice can be an effective way o f helping individuals cope with injustices. This is  20  because, similar to traumatic experiences, organizational injustice negatively impacts individuals' physical and psychological health. Moreover, unfairness involves underlying dimensions that have been previously identified as being important to the writing intervention, namely (a) the presence o f an emotional reaction and (b) the need to cognitively process the event. Each o f these reasons w i l l be considered in turn.  2.3.1  Similar Effects of Traumas and Organizational Injustice on Physical Health and Psychological Weil-Being  Previous research examining the writing intervention has tended to focus on the benefits in terms o f physical and psychological well-being (see Smyth, 1998 for a review). Specifically, whereas experiencing a trauma negatively impacted physical health and psychological well-being, writing has been found to negate these negative physical effects and increase well-being. Recent research suggests that experiencing organizational injustice can have a substantial negative impact on individuals' physical and psychological well-being. Experiencing unfairness, for example, has been associated with anxiety (Harlos & Pinder, 2000), insomnia (Greenberg, 2006), depression (Tepper, 2001), exhaustion (e.g., Elovainio, K i v i m a k i , & Helkama, 2001; Elovainio, K i v i m a k i , & Vahtera, 2002), psychiatric disorders (Kivimaki et al., 2003a; 2003b), and coronary heart disease ( K i v i m a k i et al., 2005). Given that both traumas and experiencing organizational injustice can impact related physical and psychological outcomes, interventions that positively affect outcomes for traumas might also be effective for organizational injustices.  21  2.3.2  Similar Mechanisms Underlying Traumas and Organizational Injustice: The Role of Emotion and Sensemaking  Empirical evidence suggests that writing interventions are effective when they allow individuals to vent emotions associated with negative events and engage i n cognitive processing. G i v e n that injustices are characterized as a negative experience, accompanied by emotional reactions and requiring cognitive processing, writing interventions involving injustices should help individuals cope with an unfair experience. Specifically, research has demonstrated that injustices can be emotional experiences (e.g., Barclay et al., 2005; Weiss et al., 1999). Bies and Tripp (1996; 2002), for instance, argued that individuals' emotional reactions to injustice are often described as hot and volatile, and can be characterized by expressions o f pain, anger and rage. V i c t i m s ' descriptions o f these emotions often reflect an emotional intensity, with depictions including being inflamed, enraged, and consumed by the situation or even being "engulfed i n white-hot emotions" (Bies & Tripp, 2002: 210).  Justice theories have also highlighted individuals' tendency to cognitively process injustices, noting that individuals engage in sensemaking processes aimed at understanding why an injustice occurred. Fairness theory (Folger & Cropanzano, 1998; 2001), for instance, suggests that not only do individuals seek to understand why an injustice occurred, but they are also motivated to determine accountability for the injustice. That is, attributions o f blame are a key mechanism underlying perceptions o f injustice.  22  Theories underlying the writing intervention, however, suggest that developing an understanding and cognitively processing the negative situation can be hampered by strong emotional reactions and/or the tendency for individual's to inhibit their thoughts and/or feelings about the experience (see discussion below). These issues have also been identified with experiences o f organizational injustice. Harlos and Pinder (2000), for instance, noted that victims o f injustice had difficulty not only coping with their emotions, but also processing the injustice. This is demonstrated by the following quote obtained from one o f their interview participants.  / was losing it...I couldn 't make a decision, I couldn 't think straight... the thought of talking to Norm [his boss] scared the hell out of me. I thought I'd break out crying. I'd seen other people cry - with the women it happenedfrequently,and a couple of times with guys... I was just a bunch of emotions (in Harlos & Pinder, 2000: 268).  Anecdotal evidence also suggests that individuals can actively inhibit their thoughts and emotions surrounding an injustice. A manager o f a consumer products company, for instance, noted:  There are days I don't think about it, think about what he did to me. In fact, I consciously try to focus on "happy thoughts. " But then someone will remind me of what happened and my anger and bitterness will just break through, overwhelming me like a "hot flash. " Despite my efforts to control my feelings, they just overtake me (Bies & Tripp, 2002: 203).  Thus, previous research has demonstrated that the writing intervention can be effective when it is applied to negative experiences that (a) impact individuals' physical health and psychological well-being, (b) involve emotion, and (c) require cognitive processing. Given that research has linked experiences o f organizational injustice to each o f these  23  factors, it is expected that the intervention can also be effectively applied to experiences o f organizational injustice.  2.4  Writing about Injustices: Physiological and Psychological Outcomes  A s noted earlier, research has shown that the written expression o f emotions and thoughts surrounding a negative event can be associated with a variety o f physiological, psychological, and behavioral outcomes. Scholars (e.g., Pennebaker, 1993; 1997a) suggest that the mechanism underlying the relationship between writing interventions and outcomes is generally the same. Specifically, suppressing emotion is related to increased arousal, whereas confronting a negative event is thought to improve physiological and psychological health by decreasing arousal and the energy demands on the body and mind (Pennebaker, 1997a). Written expression, i n contrast, can free physiological and psychological resources previously used for inhibition (e.g., Pennebaker, 1989; 1993). Moreover, writing can aid the assimilation o f the event and reduce thought intrusions or repeated activation o f the memory and its associated emotions (Smyth, 1998).  In the following sub-sections, I focus on outcomes that have traditionally been associated with the writing intervention (e.g., physiological symptoms and psychological wellbeing). In the next section, I explore outcome measures that are not typically examined but that can become important when the intervention is investigated within the context o f workplace injustices.  24  2.4.1  Physiological Outcomes  Writing interventions have been associated with benefits i n various physiological outcomes including physiological functioning (e.g., T-helper lymphocytes, Epstein-Barr antibodies, uric acid) and reported health (e.g., health center visits, self-reported health). Writing interventions have also been associated with decreases i n arousal, improved immune functioning (measured through a variety o f indexes), improved short-term health, and can have beneficial long-term health effects (Smyth, 1998). Importantly, these results are not attributable to changes in health-related behaviors and lifestyle. Pennebaker (1993), for instance, found that individuals who wrote about traumatic topics tended to benefit from the intervention, despite continuing to drink, smoke, exercise, and sleep at rates that were comparable to controls. Smyth's (1998) meta-analysis o f writing and health also suggested that writing has little effect on health behaviors (effect size o f .03). Moreover, individuals who write about both their thoughts and feelings toward a negative event have been shown to experience greater increments i n physiological health than individuals who wrote about their thoughts only, feelings only, or a trivial topic.  Although studies indicate a relationship between the writing intervention and physical heath, two recent meta-analyses provide conflicting evidence on the effectiveness o f the writing intervention on physiological outcomes, particularly for participants with no preexisting physical conditions. Smyth's (1998) meta-analysis involved 13 studies and examined the relationship between written emotional expression and subsequent health. Smyth found that individuals i n the experimental groups experienced a 2 3 % improvement i n general health compared to control groups (effect size = .47). Moreover,  25  the drop i n illness rates associated with writing was similar to those effects produced by other psychological, behavioral, or educational treatments.  Meads and Nouwen (2005) found inconsistent evidence for the relationship between writing and physical health i n their meta-analysis o f 61 studies. Based on participant characteristics, they separated the studies into three categories: (a) participants preexisting physical conditions (e.g., cancer, H I V , fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, etc.), (b) participants who had experienced psychosocial stressors (e.g., child sexual abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder, loss o f a loved one, distress after hurricane flooding), or (c) participants who were considered healthy volunteers (including children plus two randomized crossover trials). Meads and Nouwen found that there was no difference in objectively measured health centre visits for the intervention groups compared to the control group. These results, however, differed across the categories. Specifically, participants with pre-existing physical conditions tended to have an increase in health centre visits, whereas the other groups tended to have a decrease. The results for healthy volunteers, however, were unclear since o f the 11 available studies, only five provided enough information to be included i n the meta-analysis (of the other six studies, 3 reported a decline in visits, 1 reported an increase, and 2 studies reported no change). The five studies that included sufficient information, however, did suggest a significant decline i n health centre visits. With respect to subjective physical health measures, twenty-two different types o f outcomes were measured, however, results were not reported for four outcomes and results for thirteen outcomes showed no difference between the intervention and the control groups or no relevant statistical test was reported. Results were mixed for the five remaining outcomes, such that one study  26  reported fewer physical symptoms for the intervention group, one study reported more symptoms and absenteeism, one reported greater symptom severity, and one reported less activity restriction from illness.  Meads and Nouwen (2005) noted that their meta-analysis results were susceptible to publication and selective reporting biases (with studies on physically healthy participants being particularly vulnerable to the biases), and also suffered from poor reporting i n the literature (e.g., statistical tests were not reported, means and standard deviations were not provided). Based on these problems, the authors called for additional research, particularly involving physically healthy participants and college students. Thus, although studies have found that writing can positively impact physical health, the results are by no means conclusive and further study is needed.  A s noted above, previous research has operationalized physical health as immune functioning, number o f doctor visits, and/or self-reported physical symptoms. In the present dissertation, I assess physical health using a self-report measure rather than these alternatives measures for several reasons. Although the number o f on-campus doctor visits has been the most common operationalization o f physical health (Smyth, 1998), there are a variety o f problems with this measure. Pennebaker (1994), for instance, found that 20-30% o f students w i l l not visit the health center within a given year and the rates of doctor visits tend to fluctuate substantially over the semester. Additionally, the number of visits each person tends to make to the doctor is highly variable. In order to increase statistical power, Pennebaker strongly recommended having at least a two-month baseline o f pre-experiment visits (which limits ones ability to collect data during certain  27  times o f the year). Moreover, studies that have used on-campus doctor visits have been conducted i n a private university where the majority o f students live on campus. The present research site is a commuter campus, where it is unlikely that the on-campus health services are the primary healthcare provider. Additionally, on-campus doctor visits are an indirect measure o f physical health and can be contaminated by other factors. For instance, individuals can visit the doctor for a variety o f reasons (e.g., accidents, prescription refills), not all visits are on-campus, and there are individual differences in the propensity to visit the doctor.  Studies involving the immune system, on the other hand-, require blood draws and extensive medical knowledge. Although immune system functioning can be assessed with relatively innocuous tools such as saliva tests, measures involving blood have typically been strongly favored in the literature (Pennebaker, 1994). In addition to being difficult to obtain and analyze, immune system measures can be intimidating for some research participants. Self-reported physical symptoms have been successfully used in prior research involving the writing intervention (e.g., Pennebaker & Beall, 1986). Moreover, previous research has demonstrated that the measure used i n the current study is reliably related to other important physiological markers, including systolic blood pressure and blood glucose (Pennebaker, 1982). For these reasons, I focus on selfreported physical symptoms.  A s noted above, some studies have demonstrated that writing involving emotion (e.g., conditions involving only emotions or both emotions and thoughts) was found to produce superior health outcomes (e.g., self-reported health, objective measures o f physiological  28  functioning) as compared to the control condition (Smyth, 1998). Pennebaker and Beall (1986), however, found that when individuals wrote about both their thoughts and feelings surrounding a trauma, they experienced more positive physiological health benefits than i f they wrote about only their thoughts, their feelings, or a trivial topic. Although writing only about emotions was found to have some health benefits, individuals who wrote only about the facts o f the trauma were similar to control condition participants on most physiological, health, and self-report measures. Writing about feelings and thoughts might be more effective than expressing emotion or thoughts alone because individuals not only vent emotion, but also cognitively process the situation. These two mechanisms, in combination, facilitate individuals' understanding o f the event, which i n turn releases physiological resources that were previously used to inhibit the negative experience.  In summary, I predicted that writing interventions can have physical benefits for victims of workplace injustice, with participants who write about both their thoughts and emotions surrounding an unfair workplace experience experiencing significantly fewer physical symptoms than participants in the other conditions. This is because the emotions/thoughts condition allows individuals to both vent their emotions and engage i n sensemaking surrounding the unfair experience, which, i n turn, decreases stress placed on the body by inhibition and increases physical health.  Hypothesis 1: Writing about workplace unfairness decreases victims' physical symptoms (HIa). Writing about both thoughts and emotions  29  decreases victims' physical symptoms more than writing about thoughts, emotions, or a control condition ( H l b ) .  2.4.2  Psychological Well-being  Writing interventions have also been associated with improvements i n psychological well-being (Smyth, 1998), which is defined as pleasant moods, l o w levels o f negative moods, and high life satisfaction (Diener, 1984). The writing intervention, for instance, has been positively related to adjustment to college, general temperament, positive affect, and negatively related to negative affect (Greenberg & Stone, 1992; Greenberg, Wormian, & Stone, 1996; Murray & Seagal, 1994; Spera et al., 1994). Moreover, Smyth's (1998) meta-analytic review demonstrated that one month after writing, individuals who engaged in emotional expression reported higher psychological wellbeing than individuals in control groups (effect size = .66).  Pennebaker (1997a) argued that the relationship between writing interventions and wellbeing is likely due to two factors: (1) freeing o f psychological resources and (2) assimilating the negative event. Specifically, writing interventions allow individuals to release negative emotions and assimilate the event, which in turn, frees the psychological resources that had previously been used to inhibit the emotions and cognitions surrounding a negative experience. Once individuals have vented their emotions and cognitively processed the event, they need not expend extra psychological energy on inhibition because they have worked through the event.  30  Similar to the argument for physiological health, I expected that writing interventions involving both thoughts and feelings are likely to result in greater improvements in psychological well-being compared with writing about either thoughts or feelings alone. Writing interventions involving emotions and thoughts are likely to result i n the greatest benefits because they facilitate the venting o f emotions, which in turn, can allow for greater cognitive processing (Pennebaker, 1997a). Individuals who are able to assimilate the event into their experiences can free psychological resources that were previously allocated to dealing with the injustice. A s noted above, it is expected that both the venting of emotion and cognitive processing are critical to assimilation. Thus, interventions that involve only one mechanism are likely to be less effective at increasing psychological well-being than writing interventions that include both emotions and thoughts.  Previous research on the writing intervention have operationalized psychological (subjective) well-being in a variety o f different ways, including general temperament, general adjustment (e.g., to college), anxiety, and sadness (see Smyth, 1998 for an overview). These operationalizations, however, differ somewhat from conventional approaches i n the psychological well-being literature. Specifically, psychological wellbeing is typically defined as individuals' evaluations o f their lives, which can include cognitive and emotional components (Diener, 1984). Extensive research i n this area has resulted i n the identification o f three primary psychological well-being components: satisfaction, pleasant affect (e.g., joy, pride), and l o w levels o f unpleasant affect (e.g., anger, anxiety, sadness). That is, individuals with high psychological well-being are more satisfied and have higher positive affect (e.g., joy, pride) as well as lower negative affect  31  (e.g., anger, anxiety) than individuals with l o w psychological well-being (e.g., Diener, 1984; Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999).  In this dissertation, I focus on one component o f psychological well-being, general life satisfaction, for several reasons. First, by focusing on general life satisfaction i n this study, I can examine whether the writing intervention affects a core component o f psychological well-being rather than focusing on indirect measures o f psychological well-being. Second, a validated measure o f general life satisfaction has been developed which not only demonstrates excellent psychometric properties (Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985), but has also been shown to have sufficient sensitivity to detect changes in general life satisfaction over the course o f short clinical interventions (Pavot & Diener, 1993). Given that there is a relatively short time period between the start and conclusion o f the intervention (one week), the sensitivity o f this measure is expected to provide a more accurate assessment o f individuals' evaluations than other self-report measures o f psychological well-being. Finally, although positive and negative affect have been defined as primary components o f psychological well-being, these constructs are highly related to anger-related and compassion-related emotions. Since the writing intervention is aimed at perceptions o f a specific event and person (i.e., transgressor), it is important to examine discrete emotions, such as anger, which have a target rather than general mood states (positive/negative affect) that can be highly variable. Thus, for these reasons, I measure psychological well-being using general life satisfaction.  Hypothesis 2: Writing about workplace unfairness increases victims' psychological well-being (i.e., general life satisfaction) (H2a). Writing  32  about both thoughts and emotions increases psychological well-being more than writing about thoughts, emotions, or a control condition (H2b).  2.5  Writing and Fairness: Moving Past the Injustice  Previous research on writing interventions has focused on physiological and psychological health outcomes. When exploring writing interventions within a fairness framework, however, several additional variables can be relevant. In this section, I explore the relationships between writing interventions, emotions, and fairness-related behaviors.  2.5.1  Emotional Outcomes  Venting negative emotions has been argued to be a central mechanism i n the writing paradigm (Pennebaker, 1993). Specifically, writing releases emotions and writing about the same negative experience over multiple sessions is associated with less emotion-laden accounts o f the situation. In most studies, emotions have been operationalized as the quantity (i.e., number) o f emotion-laden words used during writing sessions. It has been assumed that i f individuals are using less emotion-laden words, then they are experiencing fewer negative emotions (e.g., less anger, hostility, etc.). F e w studies, however, have examined the nature o f the emotions, and whether individuals report feeling fewer negative emotions at the conclusion o f the intervention.  33  Emotions are often characterized as individuals' affective reaction to an event or object (e.g., a person is angry at someone or something). They play an important role i n subsequent reactions because they can mold, constrain, and structure behaviors and thoughts (Frijda, 1986; Frijda, 1993; Lazarus, 1991). Within an organizational justice framework, anger is often a particularly powerful emotion. Fairness theory suggests that perceptions o f unfairness are only relevant when someone or something can be blamed for the injustice (e.g., Folger & Cropanzano, 1998; 2001). If no one is to blame, fairness is not an issue. Emotion researchers have similarly argued that when individuals can blame others for a negative event, they are likely to experience strong anger-related emotions (e.g., anger, hostility, irritation, etc.) (Lazarus, 1991). Anger-related emotions are founded on the beliefs that (a) individuals can influence the object o f their anger, (b) others are deemed responsible for the actions, and (c) the other person(s) ought to have behaved differently (Tavris, 1982). Anger can signal a variety o f messages, including dissatisfaction with an action, dissatisfaction with treatment, or a violation o f justice (Tavris, 1982).  Writing interventions that allow individuals to vent emotions are expected to be associated with decreased negative emotions toward transgressors. Writing interventions that involve both emotions and thoughts, however, can be more effective at diminishing negative emotion towards the transgressor than interventions that focus solely on venting emotion. Venting emotion is analogous to taking the l i d off a pressure cooker. Once the emotion is released, it can become somewhat less intense but the emotion itself remains and continues to simmer. In contrast, when individuals are given the opportunity to vent and then integrate these emotions with the thoughts that they are experiencing, the degree  34  of felt emotions might decrease because the presence o f less potent emotions allows individuals to cognitively process the situation, which increases the likelihood that the situation w i l l be viewed more objectively (i.e., less emotion-laden) and/or they may be able to integrate the negative situation to their larger experiences.  There has been a great deal o f debate i n the literature regarding whether venting emotion, and in particular anger, is indeed beneficial (i.e., decreases negative emotions). Freud's (1930) hydraulic model o f emotion suggests that anger can build inside an individual until it is released i n some way and suppressing anger can have deleterious consequences for the individual (e.g., increased psychological issues, physical effects such as ulcers, etc.). In this model, catharsis, defined as the relieving o f tension by expressing emotions, is believed to have beneficial consequences for individuals. L a y individuals often support this view and believe that suppressing anger is harmful and futile, and instead it is beneficial to express anger or have a cathartic outlet (e.g., Steinmetz, 1977; Zech, 2000). O n the other hand, there is some research to suggest that expressing the emotion can actually increase or exaggerate the emotion (Bushman, Baumeister, & Stack, 1999; Geen & Quanty, 1977; Lanzetta, Cartwright-Smith, & Kleck, 1976). Moreover, since some activities considered to be cathartic also are aggressive (e.g., hitting a punching bag), they have been found to lead to the activation o f other aggressive thoughts, emotions, and behavioral tendencies, which i n turn can lead to greater anger and aggression (Berkowitz, 1984; Tice & Baumeister, 1993).  In this dissertation, I expected venting emotion to have a beneficial rather than detrimental impact for two reasons. First, research has demonstrated that negative  35  emotions and arousal can decrease when individuals express their anger directly against the perpetrator and believe that the perpetrator w i l l not retaliate against this emotional expression (venting against substitute targets, such as punching bags, has not been found to reduce arousal) (e.g., Geen & Quanty, 1977). Writing is an activity that allows individuals to express their anger towards the transgressor but i n a private and confidential manner. Thus, writing can provide an outlet for effective venting (e.g., targeted venting as opposed to venting at a substitute). Second, previous research has demonstrated that angry feelings are increased when venting emotion facilitates and perpetuates rumination (e.g., Bushman, 2002). In this study, writing is intended to allow individuals to decrease inhibition and cognitively process the situation, which, in turn, has been argued to decrease rumination (Pennebaker, 1993). Thus, the nature and purpose of the writing is expected to result in decreased rather than increased anger because it does not encourage additional rumination.  Taken together, I predicted that participants, particularly those in the emotions/thoughts condition, w i l l report fewer anger-related emotions at the conclusion o f the intervention because the writing intervention provides the opportunity for individuals to effectively vent their negative emotions about the unfair situation.  Hypothesis 3: Writing about workplace unfairness decreases victims' anger-related emotions (H3a). Writing about both thoughts and emotions decreases anger-related emotions more than writing about thoughts, emotions, or a control condition (H3b).  36  2.5.2  Retaliation  Retaliation has been extensively studied in the justice literature as a reaction to experiencing injustice (e.g., Skarlicki & Folger, 1997). Previous research on writing interventions, however, has not examined the impact o f writing on behaviors such as retaliation. From a justice standpoint, the intervention could also have implications for victims' intentions to retaliate, due to the theoretical relationship between justice perceptions, the two mechanisms identified in the writing intervention (e.g., venting emotion and sensemaking), and retaliation.  Affective events theory ( A E T ; Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996) suggests that a behavioral outcome such as retaliation may be the result o f two pathways: affect- or judgmentdriven. Affect-driven behaviors are a direct response to affective experiences and are not mediated by overall attitudes (i.e., affect leads directly to the behavior). When retaliation is activated through the affect-driven pathway, there is a direct relationship between the amount o f emotion felt and the degree to which individuals feel compelled to retaliate. Specifically, individuals who feel angry are more likely to engage in anger-related retaliation than those who do not (Allred, 1999). Judgment-driven behaviors, i n contrast, are primarily driven by attitudes and decision-making processes. Although emotions can impact the attitudes that are formed, behaviors are affected primarily by attitudes rather than emotions. When retaliation is activated through the judgment-driven pathway, individuals can be compelled to retaliate because they believe it w i l l "balance the scales," it w i l l send a message to the perpetrator that his/her behavior was inappropriate, or it can prevent the injustice from occurring in the future (e.g., Allred, 1999).  37  The writing intervention can target both the affect- and judgment-driven pathways, through venting emotion and sensemaking, respectively. Specifically, writing involving emotions targets the affect-driven pathway and can decrease retaliation because it allows individuals to vent negative emotions. That is, when individuals write about the unfair experience using emotion, they have the opportunity to vent the general negative emotions that have accumulated i n response to the violation. This release can be functional for individuals because, as noted above, it decreases the pressure caused by inhibiting the emotion as well as decreases the level o f emotion experienced by the individual. Individuals are less compelled to engage in anger-driven retaliation when they experience less as compared to more anger. Thus, the venting o f general negative emotions can be functional for individuals because it allows the pent-up emotion to be expressed. Moreover, by releasing the negative emotions, individuals are no longer inhibiting the emotion, allowing it to escalate, or directing attention towards suppressing or ruminating over it. This, i n turn, can decrease individuals' desire to retaliate because the direct relationship between emotion and behaviors has been alleviated.  Writing involving thoughts, on the other hand, can decrease retaliation through the judgment-driven pathway. In this case, writing targets individuals' attitudes and evaluation o f the situation. Individuals who write about their thoughts might gain a broader perspective on the situation and become more objective, which can allow them to distance themselves from the situation (Pennebaker, 1997a). Moreover, after processing the situation, the individual can decide that it is not in their best interests to retaliate. Specifically, i n evaluating the situation, individuals can identify the costs and benefits associated with retaliation. When victims are less powerful than the source o f the  38  perceived unfairness (e.g., employees who are i n a lower power position than the supervisor), they often hesitate to retaliate directly since the costs o f retaliation can be significant (Homans, 1961). Moreover, victims can question whether retaliation is an effective way to prevent future injustices or send a message to the perpetrator. Thus, writing can also decrease retaliation because it allows individuals to become more objective, evaluate the situation, and consider the costs/benefits o f retaliation. Taken together, writing that involves emotion and/or thoughts is expected to decrease intentions to retaliate because it either allows individuals to vent emotion or provides them with a more objective assessment o f the situation. The greatest decrease i n retaliation is expected when both mechanisms are used i n combination.  Hypothesis 4: Writing about workplace unfairness decreases victims' retaliation intentions (H4a). Writing about both thoughts and emotions decreases retaliation intentions more than writing about thoughts, emotions, or a control condition (H4b).  2.6  Examining the Effectiveness of Perspective Taking in Writing Interventions  The previous sections focused on whether the benefits o f writing interventions generalize to experiences o f unfairness in terms o f physiological, psychological, and behavioral outcomes. In this section, I explore two related research questions. First, are there benefits from writing that involves perspective taking on individuals' attributions o f blame, emotions, and behavioral reactions? I examine the effects o f perspective taking within the writing intervention because perspective taking directly targets attributions o f  39  blame. A s noted earlier, Folger and Cropanzano (1998; 2001) argued i n fairness theory that accountability (i.e., blameworthiness) is fundamental to perceptions o f (injustice, such that unfairness is only felt when someone or something can be blamed. Perspective taking is associated with individuals becoming more cognizant and understanding o f both the nature and causes o f the transgression (Takaku, 2001). Perspective taking can help individuals make sense o f the transgressors' role i n the event and (re)consider the reasons why the event occurred in the first place. Moreover, individuals who engage i n perspective taking can experience changes i n their attributions o f blame, and as a result, also experience shifts i n their perceptions o f (un)fairness.  Although there is an extensive literature on the effects o f perspective taking, there is relatively little research that investigates how victims o f organizational justice respond to "putting themselves in the shoes" o f the transgressor, particularly i n writing sessions. Moreover, to my knowledge, no studies have examined the effects o f repeated perspective taking about the same unfair workplace event on victims' reactions. Thus, before comparing perspective taking with other writing interventions, it is important to examine whether victims o f organizational injustice, who repeatedly engage i n perspective taking writing sessions, experience the same outcomes as demonstrated by previous perspective taking research, including the effects on attributions (e.g., fewer attributions o f blame), emotions (e.g., fewer anger-related emotions, more compassionrelated emotions), and behaviors (e.g., increased reconciliation, decreased retaliation).  Second, how does an intervention involving only perspective taking compare to writing that involves both emotions and thoughts or the control condition on reducing the  40  negative effects associated with organizational injustices? I compare perspective taking to writing involving both emotions and thoughts because, as noted above, this condition has been argued to be the most effective. The control condition is also included i n order to explore whether either intervention is more effective than writing about trivial topics that are unrelated to the experience o f injustice.  A n important point to note is that I am developing a perspective taking writing intervention not because it is expected to replicate the physical health and psychological well-being benefits observed for the traditional writing intervention, but instead because there are theoretical reasons to expect a decrease in individuals' desire to engage i n retaliation and an increase in their desire to reconcile. In a later section, I propose that the benefits o f both interventions (e.g., better physical and psychological well-being for the writing intervention and increased intentions to reconcile for the perspective taking intervention) w i l l be realized when the interventions are combined. In the present section, however, I compare the effectiveness o f perspective taking to traditional writing interventions on justice-related attributions, emotions, and behaviors.  2.6.1  Perspective Taking  Perspective taking refers to individuals' attempts to understand another's experience; it involves placing oneself in another's shoes and trying to comprehend his or her point o f view (Davis, 1983a; 1983b; Hoffman, 1975). Perspective taking helps individuals become more aware and understanding o f both the nature and causes o f the transgression (Takaku, 2001). I focus on whether "imagine-other" perspective taking can help victims  41  of an injustice to better understand why the transgressor behaved the way that they did. Imagine-other perspective taking is defined as perspective taking that asks individuals to imagine how the other person (i.e., the transgressor) perceived the situation and why they might have acted the way that they did (Batson, Early, & Salvarani, 1997). Moreover, imagine-other perspective taking is theoretically relevant to the attribution process described i n fairness theory (e.g., Folger & Cropanzano, 1998, 2001) and can help individuals develop a more global understanding o f the event and why it occurred. Imagine-other perspective taking has also been found to increase empathy (Batson et al., 1997). This is important insofar as empathy is associated with increased intentions to reconcile and decreased intentions to retaliate. That is, after engaging i n perspective taking, individuals can be less likely to engage in retaliatory behaviors and more likely to consider alternative behaviors, such as reconciliation. Whereas traditional writing interventions might not impact individuals' desires to reconcile, perspective taking can increase this tendency by focusing on attributions o f blame and potentially increasing empathy.  2.6.2  Theoretical Links Between Perspective Taking, Attributions, Emotions, and Behaviors  A s noted above, fairness theory (e.g., Folger & Cropanzano, 1998; 2001) suggests the assignment o f blame is central to perceptions o f fairness. Specifically, when individuals identify unjust treatment, they search for someone who can be held responsible for the event; i f no one is to blame, perceptions o f injustice are less likely. Stated differently,  42  when individuals evaluate the fairness o f other's actions, they are trying to determine whether that person should be held accountable or blamed for the injustice.  The process o f blame and making attributions, however, is fraught with perceptual biases. Jones and Nisbett (1971) argued that perceptual biases arise from differences in how individuals perceive themselves versus how they perceive others as well as the differences in the perspectives that individuals take when they observe and identify the causes o f behaviors. Actor-observer effects, for instance, suggest that there is a tendency for actors and observers to view the causes o f the actor's behavior differently whereas the fundamental attribution error suggests that individuals have a tendency to overemphasize dispositional explanations for others' behavior at the expense o f situational explanations.  Perspective taking has been shown to reduce perceptual biases in the attribution process. Individuals who engage in perspective taking have been found to make less dispositional and more situational attributions than individuals who are asked to observe a target (e.g., Aderman, Brehm, & Kratz, 1974; Galpher, 1976; Regan & Totten, 1975). Regan and Totten (1975) suggested that the tendency for perspective-takers to make more situational and less dispositional attributions occurs because (a) perspective-takers consider new information (i.e., a perspective different than their own), (b) personality or dispositional qualities become less salient (because the target and the perspective-taker are different individuals i n the same situation) and (c) situational aspects become salient. In other words, perspective taking reduces the actor-observer effect and can change not only the attributions about a target, but also one's perceptions o f the target.  43  Perspective taking has been associated with a number o f outcomes. Perspective taking, for instance, relates to the tendency to empathize with targets (i.e., the people whose perspective was taken) (Parker & A x t e l l , 2001), feel concern about the targets' misfortunes (Betancourt, 1990; Davis, 1983a; 1983b), and understand and/or identify with the targets' experiences (Egan, 1990). Moreover, perspective taking is associated with the development o f positive attributions about a target's behaviors (Parker & A x t e l l , 2001). Specifically, perspective taking enhances an individual's ability to recognize the effects o f external or situational circumstances i n difficult situations as well as the role o f internal factors (i.e., hard work, ability) in positive situations.  Takaku (2001) argued that one o f the central mechanisms underlying the relationship between perspective taking and changes i n attributions is cognitive dissonance. Specifically, when individuals engage in perspective taking, they can feel hypocritical and experience dissonance because they simultaneously hold two contrasting views: (1) as victims they believe the transgressor should be blamed for the misdeed and that the transgressor has a responsibility to repair the damage, however, at the same time, (2) through perspective taking, they are reminded that as a transgressor, it is difficult to take personal responsibility for a misdeed and that it is often easier to blame other people or the situation. In order to reduce the discomfort associated with holding two incongruent cognitions, victims are more likely to perceive causes other than those attributable to the transgressor (i.e., move away from dispositional attributions and toward situational attributions). Thus, rather than focusing on dispositional attributions, individuals engaged in perspective taking can be inclined to incorporate more situational aspects into their attributions.  44  Given that perspective taking results i n fewer dispositional and more situational attributions, it is likely that over the course o f writing sessions, individuals who engage i n perspective taking could experience changes in their attributions regarding the transgressor. Specifically, individuals who engage in perspective taking are likely to experience greater change in their attributions about the injustice than individuals who focus on writing about their thoughts and feelings surrounding the injustice. Moreover, these attributions w i l l likely change from being highly dispositional i n nature toward being more situational in nature.  Hypothesis 5: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on perspective taking decreases victims' attributions o f blame toward the transgressor (H5a). Perspective taking writing is more effective than writing about one's emotions/thoughts or a control condition at diminishing attributions o f blame toward the transgressor (H5b).  Perspective taking has not only been linked to changes i n attributions but also to changes in emotional reactions and increases i n pro-social behaviors (e.g., reconciliation). Attribution theory (e.g., Weiner, 1986, 1995; Weiner, Russell, & Lerman, 1978) suggests that the intensity o f an emotional reaction is dependent on attributions about the cause o f the event. This suggests, for instance, to the degree that victims blame the transgressor for the injustice, they w i l l also be likely to experience anger. When dispositional attributions about the negative event are diminished, individuals might be less likely to experience negative emotions.  45  Takaku (2001) demonstrated that as individuals' attributions change from being highly dispositional to more situational i n nature, victims can also experience a corresponding change i n their emotional reactions. A s noted above, individuals have a tendency to experience negative emotional reactions (e.g., anger) when they blame another for an injustice. B y engaging in perspective taking, however, individuals might experience a shift in their attributions, such that they do not blame the transgressor to the same degree. B y attributing less blame to the transgressor, they can be less likely to experience negative emotions.  Perspective taking also tends to increase empathy towards the target (Batson et al., 1997). Similar to the argument for negative emotions, when attributions o f blame become less dispositional, individuals are likely to experience more positive emotional reactions, such as compassion, toward the transgressor. This can be due not only to the decrease i n the transgressors' perceived blameworthiness but also because by placing themselves i n the target's shoes, individuals can develop a greater understanding o f why the transgressor behaved i n the way that he or she did. That is, it can help individuals put things i n perspective (e.g., the unfairness was not personal, other factors were involved, etc.). When victims attribute less blame toward a transgressor, they are more likely to feel positively (i.e., compassion-related emotions) toward the transgressor than when they blame another for a misdeed.  Compassion has also been associated with the desire to reconcile (Batson et al., 1997). Compassion-related emotions (e.g., compassion, sympathy, empathy) occur when individuals feel moved by another's state or suffering and wish to help (Lazarus, 1991).  46  Compassion might be particularly likely to occur when there is an absence o f blame and is associated with the desire to reach out to the other individual and/or express sympathy. These emotions facilitate coping, preserve morale, as well as permit healing and recovery. Moreover, compassion-related emotions are associated with pro-social behaviors or behaviors that are aimed at approaching or reconciling with others (Frijda, 1993; Lazarus, 1991).  Taken together, by engaging in perspective taking, individuals are expected to be less likely to blame the transgressor for the injustice, which is associated with the victim experiencing more benevolent emotional reactions toward the transgressor (e.g., compassion, sympathy) and less negative emotional reactions (e.g., anger, bitterness).  Hypothesis 6: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on perspective taking increases victims' compassion-related emotions toward the transgressor (H6a). Perspective taking writing increases compassionrelated emotions toward the transgressor more than writing about one's emotions/thoughts or a control condition (H6b).  Hypothesis 7: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on perspective taking decreases victims' anger-related emotions toward the transgressor (H7a). Perspective taking writing is more effective than writing about emotions/thoughts or a control condition at decreasing anger-related emotions toward the transgressor (H7b).  47  Perspective taking has also been linked to pro-social behaviors such as interpersonal forgiveness and willingness to reconcile. Perspective taking can influence behavioral intentions both indirectly (e.g., through attributions o f blame, emotions) and directly (e.g., by cognitively manipulating the situation and increasing understanding).  In terms o f indirect effects, as noted above, perspective taking provides individuals with a more global understanding o f why the injustice occurred and why the transgressor behaved the way that he or she did. This can reduce negative dispositional attributions toward the transgressor, and since individuals are less likely to hold the transgressor personally responsible, they can also be less likely to retaliate or punish the transgressor for his/her behavior. Moreover, these shifts i n attributions can incite changes in emotions, such that individuals who engage i n perspective taking might be less likely to experience negative emotions and more likely to experience positive emotions toward the transgressor. A s argued above, when individuals feel less angry and more compassionate towards the transgressor, this can affect their intentions to engage in retaliatory or reconciliatory behaviors. Specifically, emotions are associated with action tendencies (e.g., anger is related to retaliation, whereas compassion is related to reconciliation) (Frijda, 1993). Individuals who come to feel less negative emotion (e.g., anger) toward a transgressor, for instance, could also experience a decrease i n the desire to engage i n retaliation against the transgressor. Similarly, individuals who come to experience more positive emotions toward the transgressor (e.g., compassion) might be more w i l l i n g to consider behaviors such as reconciliation, since these types o f emotions are associated with the tendency to "approach" and reach out to others. Thus, emotions are associated  48  with action-tendencies (e.g., Lazarus, 1991; Frijda, 1993), and when a particular emotion is increased, so is the tendency to behave i n a way that is consistent with the emotion.  Perspective taking can also have a direct effect on intentions to retaliate and reconcile through cognitive manipulation o f the situation, increased understanding, and a sense o f mastery. Specifically, when individuals experience a negative event, they often believe it was a malicious or inconsiderate act (see discussion o f dispositional attributions above), but more importantly, they lack understanding o f the offender's motives (Tice & Baumeister, 1993). W i t h respect to the latter, victims often feel unable to understand the other person and his/her behaviors and describe the offender's intentions as "unclear, inconsistent, arbitrary, incoherent, unreasonable, incomprehensible, or otherwise opaque" (Tice & Baumeister, 1993: 399). Cognitive manipulation o f the situation through perspective taking can help victims decrease the gap i n interpersonal understanding, better understand the offender's motives, as well as generate a reasonable explanation for the situation. Moreover, previous research has demonstrated that achieving a better understanding o f the event can confer a sense o f mastery, which reduces the stressful impact o f the situation (Rothbaum, Weisz, & Snyder, 1982). Perspective taking broadens victims' perspectives, increases their understanding o f the perpetrator and the situation, and also decreases the perceived stressfulness o f the situation. Thus, perspective taking can impact behavioral reactions, such that individuals who engage i n perspective taking are less likely to retaliate and are more likely to reconcile than individuals who believe the offender's motives are incomprehensible. Taken together, this suggests that individuals i n the perspective taking condition might be less likely to engage i n  49  retaliation behaviors and more likely to engage in behaviors aimed at reconciliation at the conclusion as compared to the beginning o f the perspective taking intervention.  Hypothesis 8: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on perspective taking decreases victims' intentions to retaliate (H8a). Perspective taking writing is more effective than writing about emotions/thoughts or a control condition at decreasing retaliation intentions (H8b).  Hypothesis 9: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on perspective taking increases victims' intentions to reconcile (H9a). Perspective taking writing is more effective than writing about emotions/thoughts or a control condition at increasing intentions to reconcile (H9b).  2.7  Combining Traditional Writing and Perspective Taking Interventions  A s outlined above, theoretically, the traditional writing and perspective taking interventions might help individuals deal with injustices by helping them to (a) vent their emotion and engage in cognitive processing, or (b) consider the transgressor's perspective, respectively. Whereas the former intervention is focused inward, with individuals working through their own emotions and thoughts about the experience, the latter is focused outward, with individuals trying to better understand the perspective o f the person who caused the unfairness. A s argued above, these differences in focus might  50  be related to differences in the benefits o f the intervention. Specifically, writing interventions involving emotions and thoughts are likely to be associated with benefits i n physical and psychological well-being, but not necessarily intentions to reconcile, whereas the reverse is likely to be true for perspective taking interventions. It is reasonable to consider that individuals might be able to derive further benefits from combining the two interventions. Since the interventions focus on two different sets o f outcomes, it is possible that combining the interventions w i l l result i n a more inclusive or comprehensive set o f benefits than either intervention alone.  In this dissertation, I also examine the effects o f counter-balancing the two interventions. In addition to the methodological reasons for counter-balancing, there are also theoretical reasons to expect order effects. Specifically, traditional writing interventions that encourage victims to work through their own issues (i.e., vent emotion and engage in sensemaking) might initially improve the victims' ability to engage i n perspective taking. When victims are given the opportunity to disclose, their assessments o f the situation become less emotionally laden (Pennebaker, 1997a). This, i n turn, might allow them to better consider the transgressors' perspective because their vision is no longer clouded by strong emotions. Moreover, when victims are first given the opportunity to make sense o f their own position, they might be more willing to consider the transgressors' perspective. That is, traditional writing interventions can initiate cognitive processing o f the unjust experience, and, once this process is started, individuals might be better able to broaden their sensemaking to include the transgressors' perspective (i.e., engaging i n perspective taking). O n the other hand, engaging in perspective taking first and then venting ones' emotions and thoughts can be effective because individuals' understanding o f the  51  situation can be broadened before they focus on their perspective. In other words, incorporating the transgressor's perspective can enhance their ability to make sense o f the situation from their own perspective. Given that it is unclear how counterbalancing w i l l affect individuals, the order effects w i l l be examined, but no specific hypotheses are predicted.  Taken together, these interventions focus individuals inward, on their own emotions and thoughts, and outward, toward understanding the other person's perspective. G i v e n the benefits o f both interventions, I predict that combining them w i l l result i n improvement on each o f the key physiological, psychological, and behavioral outcomes. Specifically, participants in the combined condition w i l l report fewer self-reported physiological symptoms, higher psychological well-being, greater intentions to reconcile, and fewer intentions to retaliate than either intervention alone.  Hypothesis 10: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on both perspective taking and emotions/thoughts reduces victims' physiological symptoms (HlOa), increases psychological well-being (HIOb), lowers intentions to retaliate (HlOc), and increases intentions to reconcile (HlOd) more than does writing about only one focus.  52  2.8  Summary of Hypotheses  Hypothesis 1: Writing about workplace unfairness decreases victims' physical symptoms (HIa). Writing about both thoughts and emotions decreases victims' physical symptoms more than writing about thoughts, emotions, or a control condition ( H l b ) .  Hypothesis 2: Writing about workplace unfairness increases victims' psychological wellbeing (i.e., general life satisfaction) (H2a). Writing about both thoughts and emotions increases psychological well-being more than writing about thoughts, emotions, or a control condition (H2b).  Hypothesis 3: Writing about workplace unfairness decreases victims' anger-related emotions (H3a). Writing about both thoughts and emotions decreases anger-related emotions more than writing about thoughts, emotions, or a control condition (H3b).  Hypothesis 4: Writing about workplace unfairness decreases victims' retaliation intentions (H4a). Writing about both thoughts and emotions decreases retaliation intentions more than writing about thoughts, emotions, or a control condition (H4b).  Hypothesis 5: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on perspective taking decreases victims' attributions o f blame toward the transgressor (H5a). Perspective taking writing is more effective than writing about one's emotions/thoughts or a control condition at diminishing attributions o f blame toward the transgressor (H5b).  53  Hypothesis 6: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on perspective taking increases victims' compassion-related emotions toward the transgressor (H6a). Perspective taking writing increases compassion-related emotions toward the transgressor more than writing about one's emotions/thoughts or a control condition (H6b).  Hypothesis 7: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on perspective taking decreases victims' anger-related emotions toward the transgressor (H7a). Perspective taking writing is more effective than writing about emotions/thoughts or a control condition at decreasing anger-related emotions toward the transgressor (H7b).  Hypothesis 8: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on perspective taking decreases victims' intentions to retaliate (H8a). Perspective taking writing is more effective than writing about emotions/thoughts or a control condition at decreasing retaliation intentions (H8b).  Hypothesis 9: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on perspective taking increases victims' intentions to reconcile (H9a). Perspective taking writing is more effective than writing about emotions/thoughts or a control condition at increasing intentions to reconcile (H9b).  Hypothesis 10: Writing about workplace unfairness that focuses on both perspective taking and emotions/thoughts reduces victims' physiological symptoms (HlOa), increases psychological well-being (HIOb), lowers intentions to retaliate (HlOc), and increases intentions to reconcile (HlOd) more than does writing about only one focus.  54  CHAPTER 3: METHOD  3.1  Participants  Participants were recruited from a Canadian University through posters that were displayed across campus. Criteria for inclusion in the study included being over the age of 18 (to conform with informed consent guidelines) and having personally experienced unfairness from a supervisor in the workplace. Participants were paid a total o f $40 for participating i n the study.  A total o f 178 individuals volunteered to participate. Three participants (1 participant from the emotions/thoughts condition and 2 participants from the combined emotions and thoughts/perspective taking condition) were dropped from the analyses because after starting the study, their schedules changed and they were no longer able to participate i n the sessions. Thus, the final sample consisted o f 175 individuals who had completed a l l of the writing sessions, 25 participants in each cell.  One month after the study, participants were mailed a follow-up questionnaire with a self-addressed stamped envelope that assessed each o f the dependent measures. The response rate for the one-month follow-up questionnaire was 62%. In order to determine whether there was any bias in the participants who did versus did not return the follow-up questionnaire, participants' demographic characteristics were compared. N o significant differences were found. However, further analyses revealed that the missing questionnaires were not evenly distributed across the conditions. Specifically, follow-up  55  questionnaires were received from 72% o f the participants in each o f the emotions only, thoughts only, and control conditions, 76% from the emotions/thoughts condition, 44% from the perspective taking only, 48% from the emotions/thoughts and perspective taking combined condition, and 52% from the perspective taking and emotions/thoughts combined condition. This w i l l be discussed further in the Results section (see Missing Data).  Participants were an average o f 24 years o f age, 73% female, had approximately 6 years of work experience. In terms o f ethnicity, 58% o f the sample was Asian, 30% was Caucasian. Students comprised 93% o f the sample (87.3% undergraduate; 7.6% Masters, 2.5 % M B A and 2.5% Ph.D.). The average participant was employed at the job where the injustice occurred for 16.55 months. Sixty-nine percent o f participants indicated that the injustice did not occur at their current place o f employment and 7 1 % reported that they no longer had contact with the transgressor.  A variety o f occupations were represented in the sample; 39% o f participants worked in the service industry, 24% in sales, 2 1 % in professional offices, and 16% indicated "other". The type o f service occupations represented included dishwashers, restaurant servers or hostesses, meter readers, and cashiers. Sales included occupations such as call center employees, telemarketers, retail sales, and commission sales (e.g., electronics salesperson). Examples o f professional occupations included i n the sample are engineers, doctors, college instructors, and research analysts.  56  A s noted above, all participants perceived that their supervisor had treated them unfairly. Participants wrote about violations that spanned the range o f justice dimensions, including distributive, procedural, and interactional justice violations, with multiple violations typically occurring within a single experience (e.g., individuals who were denied their paycheck, typically regarded as a distributive justice violation, rated this as an interactional violation as well, since it signaled disrespect). Examples o f unfair experiences include sexual harassment, supervisors playing favorites, denial o f a promised promotion/raise/bonus, racism, sexism, being demeaned or belittled, and supervisors with unrealistic expectations. I examined whether there were any differences in perceptions o f fairness across the conditions. N o significant differences were found for each o f the justice dimensions (see Table 2). Justice items and reliabilities are listed i n Table 1. Means and standard deviations are displayed in Table 2.  Participants were randomly assigned to one o f seven conditions: (1) control condition, i n which participants write about a trivial topic (i.e., objective descriptions o f schedules, rooms), (2) write only about their thoughts, (3) write only about their emotions, (4) write about both their thoughts and emotions surrounding the mistreatment, (5) perspective taking only, (6) write about both emotions and thoughts followed by perspective taking, or (7) perspective taking followed by writing about both emotions and thoughts.  3.2  Background on Writing Intervention Methodologies  Previous research involving writing interventions follows a general design i n which individuals are randomly assigned to write about one o f four types o f essays for at least  57  15 minutes a day for three to five consecutive days. Participants are assigned to one o f three experimental conditions or a control group. Participants in the experimental conditions write about a trauma they have experienced with specific focus on (a) their feelings, (b) their thoughts, or (c) both their feelings and thoughts about the event. Participants i n the control condition write about a trivial topic (e.g., time management, descriptions o f rooms).  3.2.1  Length of Writing  There have been a number o f variations on the general design, including variations in the length and number o f writing sessions as well as the spacing between sessions. Writing sessions have typically been 15 to 30 minutes i n length, and occurred over the course o f 1 to 5 days, and have ranged from consecutive days to sessions separated by a week (Pennebaker, 1997b). Smyth's (1998) meta-analytic review o f writing and health found that the amount o f time over which the writing intervention took place was related to the overall effect size, with longer time frames associated with higher effects. Specifically, writing interventions tend to be more effective for individuals who write over multiple (e.g., four or five) sessions because participants are able to repeatedly create a narrative and engage in more extensive cognitive processing than individuals who only wrote for one or two sessions.  58  3.2.2  Feedback  Writing interventions differ from talking or psychotherapy in that participants are not given feedback about their writing (Pennebaker, 1997b). Although writing interventions typically ask participants not to identify themselves, on some level, participants might anticipate receiving some feedback. Czajka (1987) investigated whether participants who anticipated receiving feedback (i.e., those i n writing conditions) differed on health and behavioral outcomes from those who did not anticipate feedback (i.e., individuals who wrote on a "magic pad" which erases writing when the individual lifts the plastic writing cover). Czajka's results showed no significant differences in both physiological and selfreport measures, suggesting that participants who anticipate receiving feedback do not benefit more from writing than those who do not.  3.3  Overview of Current Methodology  Pennebaker (1994) provided a summary o f the procedures that have been deemed the most effective i n this paradigm. The procedures used i n this research were based primarily on his recommendations. Specifically, participants attended five sessions on consecutive days (Monday-Friday) i n a laboratory. In the first session, the procedures for the study were explained and informed consent was obtained. Participants were then asked to provide demographic information and complete a series o f baseline measures o f the study variables. In sessions T w o through Five, participants were asked to write for 20 minutes per day on one o f two assigned topics: (a) personal experience o f an organizational injustice or (b) objective descriptions o f trivial topics (control condition).  59  Participants were asked to use the same unfair experience for the entire week. Following Pennebaker's protocol, participants were also'contacted a month after the conclusion o f the intervention and asked to complete a follow-up questionnaire.  Pennebaker (1994) strongly recommended that participants write in a private and secluded space, i n which they would feel comfortable expressing their deepest thoughts and/or feelings. Accordingly, sessions were run individually, with each participant writing alone i n a room that contained only a desk, a chair, and the writing supplies.  3.4  Procedures  A t the beginning o f each session, each participant was greeted by the experimenter and lead to an empty room, which contained only a desk and a chair. The instructions for the writing were provided verbally by the experimenter and a paper copy was also given. Participants were reminded that they should write for the entire twenty minutes. After twenty minutes o f writing time had passed, the experimenter knocked on the door and brought i n a questionnaire. Participants in the experimental conditions were given the same set o f writing instructions each day, with the exception o f participants i n the conditions that combined the emotions/thoughts and perspective taking interventions. In the latter case, participants wrote using the instructions for the first intervention for the initial two sessions and then switched to the second intervention for the final two sessions. Individuals, for example, who were instructed to start with the writing intervention and then engage i n perspective taking received the emotions/thoughts  60  instructions on the first two days o f writing and the perspective taking instructions for the final two sessions.  The standard instructions used for writing interventions was used, however, the instructions were altered to fit an organizational justice context (e.g., Graybeal, Sexton, & Pennebaker, 2002; Pennebaker, 1994). Specifically, whereas previous research has asked participants to write about "an extremely emotional issue," the current research asked participants to write about "an unfair workplace experience." The instructions for the experimental conditions are identical, with the exception o f the manipulation.  The full set o f instructions is presented below.  Writing involving Emotions and Thoughts In this session, I would like you to write about your very deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding an unfair workplace experience that has affected you and your life. In your writing, I'd like you to explore your deepest emotions (i.e., I feel...) and thoughts (i.e., I think that...). A l l o f your writing w i l l be completely confidential. Don't worry about spelling, sentence structure or grammar. The only rule is that once you begin writing you continue to do so until your time is up.  Writing involving Thoughts In this session, I would like you to write about your thoughts surrounding an unfair workplace experience that has affected you and your life. In your writing, I'd like you to explore your deepest thoughts. It is important that you do not explore your emotions or feelings (i.e., I feel that...). Please write only about what you think about the situation (i.e., I think that...). A l l o f your writing w i l l be completely confidential. Don't worry about spelling, sentence structure or grammar. The only rule is that once you begin writing you continue to do so until your time is up.  61  Writing involving Emotions In this session, I would like you to write about your emotions and feelings surrounding an unfair workplace experience that has affected you and your life. In your writing, I'd like you to explore your deepest emotions. It is important that you do not explore your thoughts (i.e., I think that...). Please write only about what you feel about the situation (i.e., I feel that...). A l l o f your writing w i l l be completely confidential. D o n ' t worry about spelling, sentence structure or grammar. The only rule is that once you begin writing you continue to do so until your time is up.  Perspective Taking In this session, I would like you to write about an unfair workplace experience that has affected you and your life. In your writing, I'd like you to explore h o w you think the other person feels about what happened and consider, from his/her perspective, why he or she behaved "unfairly" i n the first place. A l l o f your writing w i l l be completely confidential. D o n ' t worry about spelling, sentence structure or grammar. The only rule is that once you begin writing you continue to do so until your time is up.  Control Condition Previous research has tended to vary the instructions for the control condition over each session (Pennebaker, 1994). Over the four sessions, participants were asked to write about the following topics: (1) how they have managed their time in the last 24 hours, (2) what they have done since they woke up today, (3) describe their bedroom at home , and 1  (4) describe the place where they live.  The instructions for each o f the four sessions are provided below.  62  Day I In this session, I would like you to write about how you manage your time. In your writing, I'd like you to write about how you managed your time for the last 24 hours. D o not explore your emotions or feelings; please try to be completely objective and descriptive. G o into as much detail as possible. A l l o f your writing w i l l be completely confidential. D o n ' t worry about spelling, sentence structure or grammar. The only rule is that once you begin writing you continue to do so until your time is up.  Day! In this session, I would like you to write about everything you have done since you got up this morning. In your writing, I'd like you to write about everything you have done since you got up this morning. D o not explore your emotions or feelings; please try to be completely objective and descriptive. G o into as much detail as possible. A l l o f your writing w i l l be completely confidential. Don't worry about spelling, sentence structure or grammar. The only rule is that once you begin writing you continue to do so until your time is up.  Day 3 In this session, I would like you to describe your bedroom at home. In your writing, I'd like you to describe your bedroom at home. D o not explore your emotions or feelings; please try to be completely objective and descriptive. G o into as much detail as possible. A l l o f your writing w i l l be completely confidential. Don't worry about spelling, sentence structure or grammar. The only rule is that once you begin writing you continue to do so until your time is up.  Day 4 In this session, I would like you to describe the place where you live. In your writing, I'd like you to describe the place where you live. D o not explore your emotions or feelings; please try to be completely objective and descriptive. G o into as much detail as possible. A l l o f your writing w i l l be completely confidential. Don't worry about spelling, sentence structure or grammar. The only rule is that once you begin writing you continue to do so until your time is up.  3.5  Measures  Unless otherwise noted, the response set for each measure was a 7-point Likert-type scale, with responses ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (7). The items were averaged to form the scale such that greater values signify higher levels o f the measure than lower values.  3.5.1  Dependent Variables  Physical Symptoms. Physical symptoms were measured using a modified version o f Pennebaker's (1982) physical symptom scale. This questionnaire asks individuals to rate, on a 7-point Likert-type scale (1 = not at all; 7 = a great deal), the extent to which they are currently experiencing 13 physical symptoms: headache, watery eyes, racing heart, congested nose, tense muscles, upset stomach, flushed face, sweaty hands, shortness o f breath, cold hands, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and fatigue.  Psychological Well-being (General Life Satisfaction). General life satisfaction was assessed by the Satisfaction with Life scale (Diener et al., 1985). This measure includes five items: "In most ways my life is close to my ideal," "The conditions o f my life are excellent," "I am satisfied with my life," "So far I have gotten the important things I want in life," and " I f I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing."  64  Emotion Measures.  Anger-Related Emotions. A modified version o f the sub-scale o f the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory ( S T A X I ) was used to assess negative emotions (Spielberger, 1996). Nine items were assessed using a 7-point Likert-type scale (responses range from 1 = not at all; 7 = extremely). The items were: "I am mad at this person," "I feel angry," "I am burned up," "I am irritated," "I am frustrated," "I feel aggravated," "I feel like I ' m about to explode," "I am furious," "I am annoyed," and "I am resentful."  Compassion-Related Emotions. Batson and his colleagues (e.g., Coke, Batson, & M c D a v i s , 1978; T o i & Batson, 1982) developed an eight-item affective empathy measure (responses range from 1 = not at all; 7 = extremely) to assess the extent to which individuals felt each affect toward their offender at the time o f rating (moved, softhearted, sorrowed, touched, empathic, warm, concerned, and compassionate). Following M c C u l l o u g h , Fincham, and Tsang (2003), an additional item (sympathetic) was also assessed.  Attributions of Blame Toward Transgressor. Three items taken from M c C u l l o u g h et al. (2003) were modified to assess attributions o f blame. The items were: "This person's behavior was intentional," "This person is responsible for what happened," "I hold this person accountable for the situation."  65  Behavioral Intention Measures.  Retaliation. M c C u l l o u g h et al.'s (1998) five item scale was used to assess retaliation intentions. The question stem was: "Please indicate to what extent you currently intend to react i n the following ways toward the person who offended you (or how you would intend to respond i f you had the chance...)." The items were: " I ' l l make him/her pay," "I wish that something bad would happen to him/her," "I want him/her to get what he/she deserves," " I ' m going to get even," "I want to see him/her hurt and miserable.  Reconciliation. Reconciliation was measured with 5 items adapted from Wade's (1989) Conciliation subscale. This scale measures the extent to which the victim is w i l l i n g to repair or improve his/her relationship with the offender after the transgression. The question stem was identical to that used for revenge. The items were: "I am w i l l i n g to give this person back a new start, a renewed relationship," "I am w i l l i n g to accept their humanness, flaws, and failures," "I am willing to accept them," "I am w i l l i n g to make an effort to be more friendly and concerned," "I am willing to try to make amends."  3.5.2  Control Variables  Gender and Age. Previous research has demonstrated that gender and age can impact the effectiveness o f the writing intervention (Smyth, 1998). Specifically, older individuals can be less likely to experience positive benefits from writing than younger individuals. This could be because older individuals have more rigidly defined views o f the self, which are less likely to change (Epstein, 1991; Harber & Pennebaker, 1992).  66  Additionally, men have been found to benefit more from the intervention than women. Ptacek, Smith, and Zanas (1992) argued that this is because males tend to be less expressive, less likely to disclose a trauma, and more likely to focus on how to resolve the trauma i n their writing than women.  Time Lapse Since Transgression. Previous research has demonstrated that the length o f time since the experience can have a significant impact on the effectiveness o f writing. Specifically, writing about recent events is associated with greater benefits i n physical and psychological well-being than writing about distant events (Smyth, 1998). Time elapsed since the transgression has also been associated with the tendency to reconcile and/or forgive (Enright et al., 1991). This variable was measured with one item, which asked participants to indicate how many months have elapsed since the transgression occurred.  67  CHAPTER 4: RESULTS  4.1  Manipulation Checks  In order to ensure that participants adhered to the writing directions, content analyses o f the writing samples were conducted using the Linguistic Inquiry and W o r d Count ( L I W C ) software, developed by Pennebaker, Francis, and Booth (2001). Results indicated that participants followed the instructions related to their specific condition. Participants in the emotions only condition, for instance, had significantly higher proportions o f emotion words in their writing samples than individuals i n the thoughts only, and control condition, but did not significantly differ from the emotions and thoughts condition (see Table 3).  4.2  Analytic Strategy  The means and standard deviations o f the study variables are shown i n Table 4. Intercorrelations and reliability are presented i n Table 5.  To be consistent and comparable with previous studies, all analyses, unless otherwise noted, controlled for the effects o f gender, age, and the amount o f time (in months) since the event occurred. Follow-up analyses that examined differences between conditions at the conclusion o f the intervention also controlled for differences in the variable at the initial session. Results are presented with two-tailed significance levels, however, given  68  the directionality embedded i n the hypotheses, a more liberal alpha level (.10), which represents one-tailed significance at a .05 level, was used.  4.2.1  Missing Data  To deal with the problem o f missing data, I used a "complete case" approach, i n which only cases with full data are utilized i n the data analyses. This approach has been deemed the most direct approach for dealing with missing data and is appropriate for instances when the extent o f the missing data is relatively small and/or the sample is sufficiently large to allow for the deletion o f cases with missing data (Hair, Anderson, Tatham, & Black, 1998).  A s noted above, the response rates for the one-month follow-up questionnaire differed significantly between conditions, such that individuals i n the conditions involving the perspective taking intervention were significantly less likely to have returned the questionnaire than individuals in the traditional writing intervention conditions (see section on Participants). In order to prevent biases in the data analysis as a result o f the differences i n one-month follow-up response rates, I chose to define "complete cases" differently for analyses involving the traditional writing intervention (i.e., thoughts only, emotions only, emotions/thoughts, and control condition) versus those involving the perspective taking intervention (i.e., perspective taking only, combined perspective taking with emotions/thoughts, and combined emotions/thoughts with perspective taking).  69  Specifically, for analyses that only involved the traditional writing intervention conditions, full cases were defined as individuals who completed measures at the initial session, the final writing session, and the one-month follow-up. This definition was used because there were no significant differences in the response rate across these conditions (the follow-ups are missing at random), only a small number o f cases were missing data, and the results were not impacted by the deletion o f the cases missing data.  For analyses that involved the perspective taking conditions, full cases were defined as individuals who completed measures at the initial and final writing session (i.e., the onemonth follow-up data was omitted). This definition was used for three reasons. First, although it is possible to use a model-based approach with missing data, in which a model is developed which directly includes missing data in the analysis, this approach is primarily recommended when the missing data is random and when the missing values are on the independent rather than dependent variables (Hair et al., 1998). In the present study, missing values were on the dependent variables. Thus, using this approach could have introduced further bias into the analyses.  Second, although there was a significant volume o f missing follow-up questionnaires for these conditions, the response rate for the questionnaires collected pre-intervention and at the last writing session was excellent and identical to the rate observed for the traditional writing intervention conditions. This suggests that focusing on the pre-intervention and final writing session w i l l not introduce further bias into the analyses.  70  Third, the purpose o f the one-month follow-up questionnaires was to determine whether the intervention had any lasting impact (i.e., whether any benefits/detriments observed at the final writing sessions were maintained). Given that the conditions involving perspective taking had little impact at the final writing session (see Results below), I did not deem it necessary to examine how the effects changed over time.  4.3  Analyses  It is possible that some variables, particularly self-reported physical symptoms and general life satisfaction, could be affected by the time when the data was collected. For instance, students are likely to report more physical symptoms and less satisfaction around exam periods or at different points i n the semester. Accordingly, I conducted the analyses controlling for the time o f data collection (i.e., the week that the sessions were run). However, this was not found to significantly impact any o f the analyses. I also examined whether the results were impacted when ethnicity, English as a second language, and individual differences (e.g., self-esteem, belief in a just world, neuroticism, agreeableness) were controlled. The results were not significantly impacted by any o f these variables. Thus, for the sake o f parsimony and to remain consistent with previous research, I have chosen to report the results without these additional control variables.  Although there were an equal number o f participants assigned to each cell (i.e., 25 participants per condition), some cells can become unbalanced when a complete case approach to missing data is used (i.e., some cases are dropped in the analysis due to missing data). When unbalanced cells are used i n analysis o f variance designs, it is  71  important to examine whether assumptions o f homogeneity o f variance are violated, since this can alter the alpha level. Homogeneity o f variance tests (e.g., Levene's test o f equality o f error variances) were conducted for each analysis, and unless indicated, the assumptions were not violated and/or the alpha levels were not significantly affected.  Hypothesis 1 stated that writing about workplace unfairness would significantly decrease self-reported physical symptoms at the conclusion as compared to pre-intervention (HIa). Additionally, at the conclusion o f the intervention, participants in the emotions and thoughts condition would report significantly lower self-reported physical symptoms than participants i n the thoughts only, emotions only, and control conditions ( H l b ) . Results indicated that there was a significant within-subject decrease in self-reported physical symptoms over time, F (2, 126) = 4.93, p < .05. Hypothesis l a was supported. There were no significant differences between the treatment conditions and the control group, F (3, 63) = .57, p > .10, nor was there a significant interaction, F (6, 126) = .86, p > .10. Thus, Hypothesis l b was not supported (see Table 6).  Hypothesis 2 stated that writing about workplace unfairness would significantly increase general life satisfaction (H2a). Additionally, participants in the emotions and thoughts conditions would report significantly higher general life satisfaction at the conclusion o f the intervention than participants in the thoughts only, emotions only, and control conditions (H2b). Results indicated that there was a significant interaction between general life satisfaction and condition, F (6, 126) = 1.98, p = .07 (see Table 7). Follow-up analyses indicated that at the conclusion o f the writing intervention, participants i n the emotions and thoughts condition reported significantly greater life satisfaction than those  72  in the control condition (mean difference .57, p < .05), those in the thoughts only condition (mean difference = .53, p < .05), and those i n the emotions only condition (mean difference = .38, p <. 10) (see Tables 8 and 9). Moreover, at the one-month followup, participants i n the emotions and thoughts condition continued to report significantly greater life satisfaction than those i n the control condition (mean difference .88, p < .05) and those in the thoughts only condition (mean difference = .97, p < .05), but did not significantly differ from those i n the emotions only condition (mean difference = .37, p >.10) (see Tables 10 and 11). Thus, Hypothesis 2 was supported but the effects were stronger immediately following the intervention than one month later.  Hypothesis 3 stated there would be a significant within-subject decrease i n anger-related emotions from the start to the conclusion o f the intervention (H3a) and, at the conclusion of the intervention, participants in the emotions and thoughts conditions would report significantly lower anger than the thoughts only, emotions only, and control conditions (H3b). A significant decrease i n anger-related emotions over time was observed, F (2, 126) = 2.35, p < .10. Hypothesis 3a was supported. However, there were no significant between conditions effects, F (1, 63) = 1.62, p > .10, nor was there a significant interaction, F (6,126) = .91, p > .10 (see Table 12). Thus, Hypothesis 3b was not supported.  Hypothesis 4 stated that there would be a significant decrease i n retaliation intentions at the conclusion as compared to the start o f the intervention (H4a). Participants i n conditions involving emotions and thoughts were also predicted to report significantly fewer intentions to retaliate at the conclusion o f the intervention, as compared to  73  participants i n the emotions only, thoughts only, and control condition (H4b). A repeated measures analysis o f variance, comparing all conditions, revealed that retaliation across the conditions did not significantly decrease over time F (2,126) = .47, p > .10. U p o n closer examination o f the means, there appeared to be a decrease in retaliation intentions, particularly for participants i n the emotions/thoughts condition, but the observed power i n the repeated measures analysis was not sufficient to detect it (observed power o f the within-subjects decrease was .13). A paired samples t-test revealed that there was a significant decrease i n retaliation intentions for participants in the emotions/thoughts condition, t (24) = 4.31, p < .001), from pre-intervention (mean = 2.64) to postintervention (mean = 1.75). Hypothesis 4a was partially supported.  Results also indicated that there was a significant between-conditions effect for retaliation, F (3, 63) = 2.52, p < .10, but not a significant interaction, F (6,126) = .25, p > .10 (see Table 13). Follow-up analyses examining differences between the conditions at the conclusion o f the intervention, however, indicated that when the differences between retaliation intentions at the initial session were controlled (in addition to the other control variables), there was not a significant overall effect o f condition at this time period (see Table 14). There was a trend, however, for participants i n the emotions and thoughts condition to be less likely to retaliate than participants i n the emotions only condition, thoughts only, or control condition (see Table 15). Hypothesis 4b was not supported.  Hypothesis 5 stated that participants i n a perspective taking condition would be less likely to attribute blame to the transgressor at the conclusion as compared to the start o f the intervention (H5a), and, at the conclusion o f the intervention, significantly less likely  74  to attribute blame to the transgressor than individuals i n the emotions/thoughts and control conditions (H5b). Results o f a paired-samples t-test indicated that there was not a significant decrease in attributions o f blame from the start o f the perspective taking intervention (mean = 5.32) to the conclusion o f the intervention (mean = 5.13), t (23) = 1.16, p > .10. Thus, Hypothesis 5a was not supported. When the perspective taking only condition was compared with the emotions/thoughts and control conditions, results indicated the within-subject effect, F (1, 65) = .17, p > .10, between-conditions effect, F (2, 65)= 1.15, p > .10, and interaction, F (2, 65) = 1.45, p > .10, were not significant (see Table 16). Thus, Hypothesis 5b was not supported.  Hypothesis 6 stated that participants in the perspective taking only condition would report significantly higher compassion-related emotions toward the transgressor (H6a) at the conclusion as compared to the start o f the intervention. Additionally, at the conclusion o f the intervention, participants i n the perspective taking only condition would report significantly higher compassion-related emotions than individuals in the emotions/thoughts and control conditions (H6b). Results o f a paired-samples t-test indicated that there were no significant differences between compassion emotions at the start (mean = 1.63) as compared to the conclusion o f the intervention (mean = 1.49), t (23) = .84, p > .10. Hypothesis 6a was not supported. When the perspective taking only condition was compared with the emotions/thoughts and control conditions, results indicated that compassion-related emotions did not change over time, F (1, 65) = .00, p > .10, nor was there a significant interaction between compassion and condition, F (2,65) = .69, p > .10 (see Table 17). There was a significant difference between conditions, F (2, 65) = 2.71, p < .10, however follow-up analyses revealed that at the conclusion o f the  study, controlling for differences at Time 1 i n addition to the other control variables, there were no significant differences between the conditions (see Table 18). Hypothesis 6b was also not supported.  Hypothesis 7 stated that participants i n the perspective taking only condition would report fewer anger-related negative emotions toward the transgressor at the conclusion as compared to the start o f the intervention (H7a), and, at the conclusion o f the intervention, significantly fewer anger-related emotions than participants i n the emotions/thoughts and control condition (H7b). Results o f a paired-samples t-test indicated that participants i n the perspective taking only condition reported a significant decline i n anger-related emotions from the start (mean = 4.18) as compared to the conclusion o f the intervention (mean = 3.13), t (24) = 4.45, p < .05. Hypothesis 7a was supported. When the perspective taking only condition was compared with the emotions/thoughts and control conditions, results indicated that there was a significant within-subject decrease in anger-related emotions, F (1, 67) = 3.70, p < .05, however, there were no significant between-condition effects, F (2, 67) = .43, p > .10, or interaction, F (2, 67) = 1.95, p > .10 (see Table 19). Hypothesis 7b was not supported.  Hypothesis 8 stated that participants in the perspective taking only condition would report fewer intentions to retaliate at the conclusion as compared to the start o f the intervention (H8a), and significantly fewer intentions to retaliate than participants in the emotions/thoughts and control conditions (H8b). Results o f a paired-samples t-test indicated that there was a significant decrease in retaliation from the start (mean = 2.37) to the conclusion o f the intervention (mean = 2.00), t (23) = 1.94, p < .05. Hypothesis 8a  76  was supported. When the perspective taking only condition was compared with the emotions/thoughts and control conditions, results indicated that the interaction was marginally significant, F (2, 65) = 2.00, p = .14 (see Table 20). Follow-up analyses indicated that at the conclusion o f the intervention, the perspective taking condition had significantly higher retaliation intentions than participants i n the emotions and thoughts condition (mean difference = .45, p <. 10), but did not significantly differ from the control condition (mean difference = .09, p > .10) (see Tables 21 and 22). Hypothesis 8b was partially supported.  Hypothesis 9 stated that participants in the perspective taking only condition would report greater intentions to reconcile (H9a) at the conclusion as compared to the start o f the intervention, and significantly greater intentions to reconcile than individuals i n the emotions/thoughts and control conditions (H9b). Results o f a paired-samples t-test indicated that there was a significant difference in the reconciliation means from the start (mean = 3.10) as compared to the conclusion o f the intervention (mean = 2.54), t (24) = 2. 38, p < .05, however, this difference was the opposite o f what was expected. Specifically, contrary to expectations, participants reported fewer rather than greater intentions to reconcile at the conclusion o f the intervention. Hypothesis 9a was not supported. When the perspective taking only condition was compared with the emotions/thoughts and control conditions, results indicated that there was not a significant increase in intentions to reconcile over time, F (1, 66) = 1.01, p > .10, nor was there a significant between-conditions effect, F (2, 66) = 1.75, p > .10, or interaction, F (2, 66) = .73, p > .10 (see Table 23). Hypothesis 9b was not supported.  77  Hypothesis 10 stated that participants in combined emotions/thoughts and perspective taking conditions would report fewer physiological symptoms (HlOa), higher general life satisfaction (HIOb), fewer intentions to retaliate (HlOc), and greater intentions to reconcile (HlOd) than either intervention alone or the control condition. Results for physical symptoms showed a significant within-subject decline i n physical symptoms over time, however, the between-condition and interaction effects were not significant (see Table 24). Results for general life satisfaction indicated that there was a significant within-subject increase i n life satisfaction and a significant between-condition effect, however, the interaction term was not significant (see Table 25). Follow-up analyses indicated that at the conclusion o f the intervention, individuals i n the emotions and thoughts condition had significantly higher life satisfaction than the combined conditions (e.g., perspective taking with emotions/thoughts; emotions/thoughts with perspective taking), the perspective taking only condition, and the control condition (see Tables 26 and 27). Results for retaliation indicated that there was a significant within-subject decrease i n retaliation from the start o f the intervention to the conclusion but the between-condition effect and interaction were not significant (see Table 28). Results for reconciliation indicated that there were no significant within-subjects or betweencondition effects, nor was the interaction significant (see Table 29). Thus, Hypotheses 1 Oa-d were not supported.  4.4  Additional Analyses  A t the conclusion o f the intervention, participants were also asked to report on a 7-point Likert scale the degree to which they found the writing sessions "valuable or meaningful"  78  to them (this item was taken from Pennebaker et al., 1990). Results indicated that there was a significant difference across the conditions, F (6,167) = 7.51, p < .001 (two-tailed). Participants reported the writing condition involving emotions and thoughts to be significantly more meaningful than the thoughts only (mean difference = 1.22, p < .01), control condition (mean difference = 2.14, p < .01), and perspective taking only condition (mean difference = 1.17, p < .01). There were no significant differences between the emotions/thoughts condition and the emotion only (mean difference = .37, p > .10), the perspective taking with emotions/thoughts condition (mean difference = .40, p > . 10), emotions/thoughts with perspective taking condition (mean difference = .14, p > .10).  4.5  Summary of Results  In summary, I investigated four research questions: (a) do the effects o f the writing intervention replicate for organizational injustices (Hypotheses 1 and 2), (b) does the writing intervention impact fairness-related outcomes, including ones' emotions and behavioral intentions (Hypotheses 3 and 4), (c) does a writing intervention that focuses on perspective taking impact individuals' attributions o f blame, emotions, and behavioral reactions (Hypotheses 5-9), and (d) does combining perspective taking and the writing intervention (i.e., emotions/thoughts) enhance the effects o f the intervention (Hypothesis 10)?  M i x e d results were found for the replication hypotheses. Specifically, physical symptoms were found to decrease over the course o f the intervention (from pre- to post-  79  intervention). Contrary to expectations, however, participants in the emotions and thoughts condition did not experience a greater decrease i n physical symptoms than participants i n the other conditions. Replication effects were observed for general life satisfaction, such that at the conclusion o f the intervention, participants i n the emotions and thoughts group reported significantly higher general life satisfaction than participants in the emotions only, thoughts only, or control conditions.  Participants i n all four traditional conditions (emotions only, thoughts only, emotions and thoughts, and control) also reported less anger at the conclusion as compared to before the intervention. Omnibus tests o f retaliation intentions suggested that retaliation intentions did not significantly change from the start to the conclusion o f the intervention. This null result, however, might have been due to a lack o f power since participants i n the emotions and thoughts condition did experience a significant decrease i n retaliation postintervention as compared to pre-intervention when examined alone.  Writing involving only perspective taking did not significantly affect participants' ratings o f compassion or attributions, however, participants reported less anger, fewer retaliation intentions, and decreased reconciliation intentions at the conclusion o f the intervention as compared to pre-intervention.  When the effects o f combining the interventions were examined, results indicated that participants i n the combined writing conditions (perspective taking followed by emotions and thoughts; emotions and thoughts followed by perspective taking) did not fare better than participants in the emotions and thoughts group. Specifically, there were no  80  significant differences between the combined groups and the emotions and thoughts condition on self-report physical symptoms, retaliation, or reconciliation. Participants i n the emotions and thoughts only group did, however, report significantly greater general life satisfaction at the conclusion o f the intervention than participants i n the combined groups.  I provide a more in-depth discussion o f these findings in the following chapter.  81  CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION  The central issue that I set out to explore in this dissertation was whether victims o f workplace unfairness can use writing interventions to "heal the wounds o f injustice" defined in terms o f reducing the negative physical, psychological, and behavioral consequences associated with organizational injustice. This issue was broken into four central research questions. First, do the effects o f writing, as observed i n the trauma and coping literature, replicate to experiences o f organizational injustice? Second, does the writing intervention impact fairness-related outcomes, including ones' emotions and behavioral intentions (e.g., retaliation)? Third, does a writing intervention that focuses on perspective taking impact individuals' attributions o f blame, emotions, and behavioral reactions? Fourth, does combining perspective taking and the writing intervention (i.e., emotions/thoughts) enhance the effects o f the intervention? I address each o f these research questions i n turn. After an overview o f the results for each research question, general theoretical implications and directions for future research are provided. Finally, practical implications and limitations o f the study are discussed.  5.1  Replicating the Effects of Writing on Physical Health and Psychological WellBeing with Experiences of Organizational Injustice  Previous research examining the effects o f writing interventions has demonstrated that individuals who write about a traumatic experience (e.g., rape victims, Holocaust survivors) or other important life events (e.g., entering college, death o f a loved one) can experience improvements i n their physical health and psychological well-being (Smyth,  82  1998). Moreover, individuals who write about both their thoughts and feelings surrounding the experience tend to experience the greatest increase in physical health and psychological well-being as compared to individuals who write only about their emotions, their thoughts, or trivial topics. In this dissertation, I investigated whether these effects replicate for organizational injustices. Specifically, I examined whether writing about an unfair work experience is associated with increased physical health (i.e., fewer self-reported physical symptoms) and general life satisfaction.  5.1.1  Physical Symptoms  Results indicated that participants reported significantly fewer physical symptoms at the conclusion as compared to before the intervention. However, there were no significant differences between the conditions. That is, participants in all conditions, regardless o f their writing topic, experienced a similar decline i n self-reported physical symptoms. This differs from some previous research, which has found participants i n the condition involving both thoughts and emotions had the most significant decrease relative to the emotions only, thoughts only, and control conditions (Pennebaker, 1997a; Smyth, 1998). Although some decline was expected in all o f the experimental conditions, it was not expected that the control condition would decrease at a.similar rate.  Several potential explanations exist for why all the conditions experienced similar decreases i n self-reported physical symptoms. First, it is possible that the writing intervention had absolutely no effect and that the decline observed is the normal rate at which self-reported physical symptoms decrease over the course o f time. A recent meta-  83  analysis lends support to this contention. Meads and Nouwen (2005) found that there was no clear improvement i n both objective and self-report measures o f physical health for those individuals who participated i n a writing intervention as compared to control groups. This stands i n sharp contrast to Smyth's (1998) meta-analytic results, which found an effect size o f .43 for the relationship between writing and self-reported physical health. Meads and Nouwen (2005) argued that the differences i n the effects can be attributed to the variation i n the samples used. Whereas Smyth's meta-analysis primary used Pennebaker's research and was limited to 13 studies, Mead and Nouwen used over 60 studies to conduct their meta-analysis. In the current research, it is possible that there were no significant differences between the conditions on self-reported physical symptoms because the observed decrease represents the normal rate o f decline in the tendency to report physical symptoms. Previous research, however, using the same measure o f self-reported physical symptoms within the writing context has shown that the measure tends to exhibit relatively little decline and can even have increases in reported physical symptoms over the course o f time (Greenberg & Stone, 1992).  Second, it is possible that the writing intervention was indeed effective but the control condition was also effective. In other words, writing about any o f the assigned topics can be an effective way to decrease physical symptoms. The effectiveness o f the control condition can be attributable to at least three factors, including (a) a placebo effect, (b) a relaxation technique, and/or (c) a therapeutic effect. Placebo effects are observed when individuals improve, despite receiving an ineffective treatment, because they believe that the treatment w i l l work (Beecher, 1955). In the present research, participants might have  84  believed that writing would make them feel better about the injustice and so they reported improved functioning.  The control condition might also have had significant effects because these participants reported feeling highly relaxed during the sessions and even enjoyed their time spent i n the laboratory. Specifically, participants in the control condition noted that the writing sessions gave them time out o f their busy schedules to slow down, have some quiet personal time (which was enhanced by the private setting), and reflect on topics that could be written about with relatively little cognitive effort (i.e., objectively outlining their activities over certain time periods or describing rooms). Some control participants also reported experiencing therapeutic effects from the control topics. Specifically, when asked to write about how they spent their time (writing sessions 1 and 2), some participants reported that this put the injustice into context for them, such that they realized that work only comprised a small part o f their normal day-to-day activities and the workplace injustice that they experienced was an even smaller part o f this. In writing sessions three and four, participants were asked to objectively describe rooms (i.e., their bedroom, and rooms i n their house). Several participants reported that writing about these topics made them realize that they had "safe" places where the workplace injustice could not negatively affect them. This suggests that the control condition could have therapeutic effects because it put the injustice into context and/or highlighted coping resources that participants could draw upon. Taken together, it is plausible that the control condition could have reduced the negative effects o f workplace injustice.  85  Third, participants i n the control condition were asked to complete the same questionnaires as those i n the experimental conditions. In contrast to previous research, which did not measure outcome variables that were specifically related to the incident, participants i n this study were asked to rate a number o f variables related to the unfair workplace experience (e.g., how they were feeling about the unfairness, whether they intended to retaliate or reconcile, etc.). One could argue that by completing the questionnaires containing justice-related items, participants in the control condition were no longer inhibiting the unfair workplace experience. That is, the mere act o f responding to questions about the unfairness might have made participants feel like they were disclosing/confronting the event (and re-confronting it as they repeatedly answered the questionnaires). A s noted above, Pennebaker (1997a-c) argued that confrontation can decrease physical symptoms because it relieves the stress placed on the body that is caused by inhibiting the negative experience. Thus, i f answering questions about the unfair workplace experience constitutes disclosure/confrontation, then individuals might report a decrease i n physical symptoms by merely responding to questionnaires and not as a result o f writing about the experience.  From the present research, it is not clear which explanation is most likely to be affecting the results. This suggests that additional research is needed i n order to rule out the alternative explanations. Moreover, it suggests that the control condition used i n previous research might need to be reconsidered i n studies involving organizational justice, particularly i f the "trivial" topics used are shown to have therapeutic effects for victims o f workplace injustice.  86  5.1.2  Psychological Weil-Being (General Life Satisfaction)  I also examined whether the writing intervention affected victims' general life satisfaction. Results indicated that there was a significant increase i n general life satisfaction, i n particular, individuals who wrote about both their emotions and thoughts surrounding the unfair workplace reported the greatest increase at the conclusion o f the intervention as compared to the emotions only, thoughts only, and control condition.  This finding is significant for several reasons. First, whereas previous research on the writing intervention focused on traumatic experiences (e.g., rape), negative experiences (e.g., death o f a loved one), or experiences that required adaptation (e.g., entering college), this is the first study to explicitly examine the effects o f writing on reactions to a unfair workplace experience and, more importantly, to replicate the benefits o f writing on psychological well-being with respect to organizational injustice. Second, the effects o f writing in this study were measured using a well-established and validated measure o f psychological well-being. Whereas previous research often used indirect measures o f well-being (Smyth, 1998), this study is able to directly link writing to psychological wellbeing.  Third, emotions have been argued to be important outcomes or mediators i n the experience o f injustice (e.g., Weiss et al., 1999), however, this is the first study to demonstrate the functional consequences o f releasing negative emotion on psychological well-being within the context o f organizational injustice. Although releasing negative emotion was associated with improvements in psychological well-being, it raises several  87  issues that require further examination, including identifying the relationship between venting emotion and sensemaking within the context o f organizational justice. Moreover, it is important to examine in future studies whether the emotions associated with an injustice change naturally over time, the process through which this might happen, and the impact this could have on other outcomes.  Further to the last point, little research attention has been focused on how victims o f organizational injustice can effectively cope with their experience. Previous research has tended to focus on the experience o f injustice from the perspective o f organizations and managers (Bies & Tripp, 2002; also see below for a more detailed discussion) or third party observers (Skarlicki & K u l i k , 2005). This study demonstrates that victims o f organizational injustice need not rely solely on organizations or managers to " f i x " their perceptions; rather they can be active participants i n the healing process, with the power to mitigate the negative consequences o f experiencing workplace injustice on their own psychological well-being.  Results from the one-month follow-up suggested that the emotions/thoughts and emotions only conditions reported similar benefits from the intervention i n terms o f general life satisfaction and both o f these conditions were significantly higher than the thoughts only or the control condition. Given that the emotions/thoughts condition was significantly higher than the emotions only condition at the conclusion o f the intervention but not at the one-month follow-up, it begs the question o f whether the effectiveness o f the emotions/thoughts condition decreased over the course o f time. Additional analyses revealed, however, that this was likely due to a lack o f power rather than changes i n the  88  effectiveness o f the conditions. Specifically, when the means from the conclusion o f the intervention were compared against the means from the one-month follow-up, neither the emotions only nor the emotions/thoughts conditions had a significant change i n general life satisfaction (i.e., participants i n the emotions/thoughts condition did not report significantly less general life satisfaction at the one-month follow-up than at the conclusion o f the intervention; nor were any significant differences observed for the emotions only condition when comparing mean at the conclusion o f the intervention to the mean at the one-month follow-up). Moreover, at the one-month follow-up, the degree of difference between the means o f all four conditions was similar to that observed at the conclusion o f the intervention. Taken together, this suggests a lack o f power rather than changes i n the effectiveness o f the conditions is responsible for the null result. Nonetheless, future research would benefit from more longitudinal designs to examine the lasting impact o f the intervention.  5.2  Extending the Intervention to Fairness Related Outcomes  A s noted above, by integrating the writing intervention into an organizational justice framework, several additional dependent variables become particularly relevant. Specifically, justice theories have highlighted emotions (i.e., anger) and behaviors (i.e., retaliation). In the following section, I discuss the impact o f the writing intervention on both o f these variables.  89  5.2.1  Anger-Related Emotions  When organizational injustices occur, individuals can have strong emotional reactions (Bies & Tripp, 1996; 2002). A s noted above, emotions are targeted reactions, i n that they tend to be directed towards an event, object, or person (e.g., transgressor) (Frijda, 1986). Anger plays an important role injustice theories, in part, because it is associated with the belief that someone is responsible for a negative event and/or that the victim did not deserve poor treatment (Tavris, 1982). Although anger can be directed towards a variety of different sources, in this study, I examined anger directed toward the transgressor since participants were readily able to identify the transgressor as a source o f unfairness (i.e., they were asked to write about an unfair incident from their supervisor).  Results indicated that although anger-related emotions decreased from the start to the conclusion o f the intervention, there were no significant differences between the experimental and control conditions in the extent o f the decrease. Several possible explanations exist for this result. First, it is possible that ratings o f anger emotions changed over time, either as a natural change i n level o f anger emotions or as a change i n the tendency to report anger over time, and that the observed decrease reflected the "normal" rate o f decline i n anger-related emotions (i.e., the writing intervention had no impact). W i t h respect to the latter (i.e., the change in tendency to report anger over time), previous research has demonstrated that individuals' reporting o f affective responses tend to have a high degree o f temporal stability and consistency (e.g., Diener & Larson, 1984). Moreover, an examination o f the data showed that compassion-related emotions did not change over the course o f the writing intervention. This suggests that the decrease in  90  anger does not reflect a change i n the tendency to report less emotion over time, but instead there may indeed be something i n the writing that was affecting anger, particularly since time did not impact participants' reporting o f compassion emotions.  With respect to natural decreases in anger over time, previous research has suggested that anger can decrease over time, particularly i f individuals are able to distract themselves or diminish the amount o f arousal they feel (Tice & Ciarocco, 1998). If anger dissipates to some degree over the course o f time, it might be beneficial to examine the intervention closer to the time o f the violation (as opposed to the average o f 17 months since the violation that was reported by participants in the present study) to examine whether writing can expedite or facilitate the process. In other words, future research should examine whether the interventions' effectiveness increases i f it is administered closer to the time o f the violation.  Second, similar to the argument presented above for self-reported physical symptoms, it is possible that the writing intervention indeed had an effect, but that the control condition was as effective as the experimental condition. In this case, many types o f writing might reduce anger. The mechanisms, through which anger is affected, should differ depending on the writing condition. Previous research, for instance, would suggest that writing involving emotion is likely to decrease anger by venting (Pennebaker, 1997a). The same decrease, however, would not have been expected i n the thoughts only condition, where individuals objectively described their experience. In this condition, it is possible that anger decreased not because individuals were dealing with the emotion, but because individuals were able to become more objective and distance themselves from  91  the experience. Finally, as noted above, i n the control condition, individuals reported that the writing was relaxing and therapeutic. This suggests that making individuals feel better, in general, can be associated with a reduction i n anger. Alternatively, it is possible that the topics i n the control condition distracted participants from unfair incident, which as discussed above, can also decrease anger (Tice & Ciarocco, 1998). Taken together, there might be several different mechanisms embedded i n the writing intervention that can help reduce anger. Future research needs to explore these mechanisms and their effectiveness, including whether the effects o f some mechanisms (e.g., venting, distancing, relaxing) are more enduring and pervasive than others.  Third, the absence o f a significant difference between the conditions at the conclusion o f the intervention could be the result o f a lack o f power. Although the omnibus analyses o f the effects o f condition did not reveal a significant difference, pairwise comparisons between the conditions suggested that the control condition had significantly less decrease i n anger-related emotions than each o f the experimental conditions (none o f the experimental conditions significantly differed from each other). The observed power in the overall test o f anger by condition, however, was only about .34, which might have contributed to the null result.  5.2.2  Retaliation  Retaliation i n response to an organizational injustice can often be driven by the individuals' anger (Tavris, 1982) or the belief that retaliating w i l l help them balance the scales (Allred, 1999; 2000). Once anger emotions are triggered, these emotions can  92  propel individuals to engage i n anger-driven retaliation in order to "right the wrongs" and perhaps deter future injustices (Alfred, 2000; Alfred, M a l l o z z i , Matsui, & Raia, 1997; Bies & Tripp, 2002). In the present study, I expected that writing about unfairness would decrease individuals' retaliation intentions because it allowed them to vent negative emotions, diminish the amount o f anger they were harboring surrounding the unfair experience, become more objective, and recognize the costs associated with retaliation.  Despite finding a significant decrease in anger-related emotions and a significant decrease in retaliation for the emotions/thoughts condition, there was not a significant decline i n intentions to retaliate when this was evaluated across the writing conditions. A t least four reasons exist for why there was no significant decline in retaliation or differences between the conditions. First, individuals reported relatively l o w intentions to retaliate at the start o f the intervention (the mean for the traditional writing conditions was 2.87, with a standard deviation o f 1.42). Thus, there might have been a "floor effect," in that the scores had little room to move downward as the intervention progressed. Second, and related to the above discussion, the average length o f time since the transgression was approximately 17 months. Given that a substantial amount o f time had elapsed since the transgression occurred, individuals may have felt less compelled to retaliate due to the passage o f time. Moreover, i f individuals are engaging i n angerrelated retaliation to "right wrongs" and/or signal to the transgressor that his/her behavior is inappropriate, these messages are likely to have a more significant impact i f they are done soon after the transgression rather than after a significant amount o f time has passed. Thus, individuals may have felt that they "missed their opportunity" to engage in anger-related retaliation.  93  Third, affective events theory ( A E T ) suggests that retaliation can occur v i a two pathways: affect-driven and judgment-driven (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996). Affect-driven behaviors follow directly from affective reactions to an experience and are not mediated by attitudes (i.e., the behavior is driven directly by the affective reaction). Judgment-driven behaviors, in contrast, occur as a result o f one's evaluation or decision-making processes. Specifically, when an event occurs, individuals have an affective reaction, which impacts their attitudes, which i n turn, can impact judgment-driven behaviors. In other words, judgment-driven behaviors are the consequence o f decision processes and are impacted by attitudes and affective reactions, rather than being driven only by affective reactions. In this study, I argued that writing would impact retaliation through both the affect-driven pathway (i.e., the decrease in anger would directly impact retaliation intentions) and judgment-driven pathway (i.e., individuals' would become more objective about the situation and recognize the costs o f retaliation, which would decrease their intentions to retaliate).  Given that the writing intervention was associated with a decrease i n anger but did not significantly impact retaliation, it is plausible that retaliation intentions were primarily judgment- rather than affect-driven. If this is case, however, the question o f why the judgment-driven pathway did not affect retaliation intentions remains. According to A E T , the reduction i n anger did not significantly alter altitudes relevant to retaliation intentions and/or individuals' attitudes about the injustice were not changed i n such a way that retaliation intentions were reduced. These results are not surprising when considered in light o f the average length o f time since the violation and previous research on attitude strength. Specifically, research on attitude strength suggests that it is more difficult to  94  change attitudes when individuals have held them for a period o f time, they are certain in their position, and they have a vested interest i n maintaining the attitude (e.g., Krosnick et al., 1993). Given that the average length o f time since the transgression was 17 months, participants' belief that the event was unfair was likely to be strongly held and it was unlikely that individuals' attitudes toward the unfair experience would have changed as a mere result o f changing the level o f affective reaction or recognizing the costs associated with retaliation. A s discussed above, future research should examine whether the effects o f writing on retaliation would be enhanced i f the intervention were used closer to the initial violation.  Fourth, it is possible that the analyses lacked the power to find significant differences. The observed power for the time factor, for instance, was .13, whereas the power for the interaction was .12. Although a significant overall between-subjects effect was found, follow-up analyses aimed at examining differences at the conclusion o f the writing intervention only had an observed power o f .25. Although the omnibus test o f betweensubject differences between the conditions at the conclusion o f the intervention was not significant, the pair-wise comparison between the conditions suggested that significant differences would have been found i f more power was present. Specifically, i f the omnibus test was significant, the pair-wise comparisons between the conditions indicated that individuals i n the emotions/thoughts conditions were less likely to retaliate at the conclusion o f the intervention than individuals in the emotions only, thoughts only, and control condition, which would have supported the hypothesized direction o f the effect and the contention that retaliation intentions are affected by both the affect-driven pathway (i.e., venting emotion decreases retaliation intentions) and the judgment-driven  95  pathway (i.e., sensemaking can impact attitudes, and i n turn, behaviors). Stated differently, given the direction o f the results, it is highly likely that i f more power were available for the analyses, the retaliation hypothesis would have been supported. In addition to increasing power, future research should explore the impact and influence o f both pathways, the impact o f attitude strength on the longitudinal effects o f retaliation, and whether the effects o f writing on retaliation would be enhanced i f the intervention were used closer to the initial violation (e.g., before attitudes became strongly ingrained).  5.3  The Effects of Perspective Taking  A s noted earlier, I examined two questions with respect to perspective taking: (a) does writing that includes perspective taking impact individuals' attributions o f blame, emotions, and behavioral reactions, and (b) how does the perspective taking intervention compare against the traditional writing intervention, in terms o f attributions, emotions, and behaviors? Both questions are examined in this section.  5.3.1  Impact of Perspective Taking on Attributions, Emotions and Behaviors  A s noted above, although perspective taking has been extensively studied i n the literature, it has not been explored as part o f a writing intervention aimed at addressing organizational justice i n which multiple (i.e., four) writing sessions were used. Thus, it is important to examine the main effects o f perspective taking on fairness related outcomes before comparing them against other writing interventions.  96  Previous research on perspective taking has found that perspective taking can impact individuals' attributions (i.e., decrease attributions o f blame toward the transgressor), emotions (i.e., increase compassion-related emotions, decrease anger-related emotions), and behaviors (i.e., increase intentions to reconcile, decrease intentions to retaliate) (e.g., Batson et al., 1997; Takaku, 2001). In the present research, however, results were mixed. Specifically, perspective taking was found to significantly decrease anger and retaliation but did not have any significant effects on compassion-related emotions or attributions o f blame. In contrast to previous research, intentions to reconcile decreased rather than increased.  One o f the central assertions i n the literature is that perspective taking increases individuals' empathy by helping them understand the other person's position and situational constraints (e.g., Batson et al., 1997). That is, by taking another person's perspective, individuals are less likely to make attribution errors (e.g., less likely to emphasize dispositional over situational attributions), and are more likely to feel compassion toward the transgressor. In this dissertation, I made several assumptions: (a) the effects o f perspective taking, as observed i n previous research, would extend to justice perceptions, regardless o f the type o f injustice that was experienced, (b) individuals would be equally motivated and able to assume the transgressors' perspective, and (c) once individuals considered the transgressors' perspective, they would be able to find more situational causes and develop empathy. In hindsight, it is unclear whether these assumptions are tenable.  97  In the organizational justice literature, fairness has been primarily conceptualized as a perception (e.g., Greenberg, 1987). W i t h this emphasis, scholars have tended not to categorize different types o f violations or events according to their severity, but instead relied on individuals' perceptions to determine the degree to which a violation was (un)fair. In other words, what is fair to one person might be extremely unfair to another and there is no consideration regarding between-person differences on what constitutes an extremely unfair versus a mildly unfair event. For instance, being belittled i n front o f one's colleagues is not considered to be objectively more or less unfair than being passed up for a promotion—it depends on the person's perception o f each situation.  Although it is not possible to objectively rank different types o f justice violations, it might be possible to categorize the degree o f unfairness according to the underlying motivation. Research suggests that there are three primary reasons or models for why individuals care about fairness (e.g., Cropanzano, Byrne, Bobocel, & Rupp, 2001). Whereas transactional models o f fairness suggest that individuals care about fairness because it is i n their economic interests (Thibaut & Walker, 1975), relational models propose that fairness is important because it conveys information about the degree to which individuals are valued and respected by the group (Tyler & L i n d , 1992). M o r a l virtue models o f fairness, on the other hand, suggest that fairness conveys a basic respect for human dignity and worth (e.g., Cropanzano & Rupp 2002; Folger, 1998; 2001).  It is plausible that individuals can react differently depending on whether they believe that the violation o f fairness constituted a transactional, relational, or moral breach. There are some types o f unfairness, for example, that might be rarely (or never) condoned or  98  excused, whereas other types o f unfairness can be justified or defended. Sexual harassment or racism, for instance, may be viewed as violations o f basic human dignity and worth (i.e., moral violations) and particularly un-excusable, regardless o f the situation. In contrast, individuals might be more willing to excuse a transactional violation, particularly i f they believe it was subject to situational constraints, it is possible to defend or justify it, or it does not have a significant impact on them (e.g., it does not affect their identity or perceptions o f self-worth). For example, i f individuals do not receive a bonus that was promised by their manager, they might be more likely to excuse this violation i f they imagine the situational constraints and/or justify the violation (e.g., the manager did not have the authority to promise the bonus or the manager was unable to give bonuses due to budgetary constraints/poor economic conditions), or believe it did not have a significant impact (e.g., the loss o f money did not significantly impact them).  These differences can also impact individuals' motivation and ability to assume the transgressors' perspective as well as the effectiveness o f perspective taking (i.e., the potential o f perspective taking to alter attributions, emotions, and behaviors). In the case of moral violations, individuals might not be motivated or able to take the transgressors' perspective i f they believe that there was no justifiable reason for why the injustice occurred. Moreover, taking the perspective o f the offender i n these instances can reinforce dispositional attributions (e.g., the offender is a bad or unfair person) since the individual is unable to consider a situation under which the violation could be excused or defended.  99  Taken together, this suggests that the perspective taking intervention could be differentially effective for different types o f fairness violations. In particular, the perspective taking intervention might be less effective with violations that involve moral issues than with other types o f injustices. Future research needs to examine not only how violations o f different justice dimensions (e.g., distributive, procedural, interactional) impact the effectiveness o f the writing interventions, but also how differences i n the underlying motive (e.g., transactional, relational, moral) impacts the effectiveness o f perspective taking.  5.3.2  Comparing Perspective Taking Interventions With Traditional Writing Interventions  Although the perspective taking intervention was not effective i n altering attributions or compassion-related emotions, it decreased anger-related emotions and retaliation. In this section, I compare the perspective taking intervention against the emotions/thoughts and control conditions, with respect to attributions, emotions, and behaviors.  Theoretically, I argued that perspective taking would be more effective at decreasing attributions o f blame and increasing compassion-related emotions than the emotions/thoughts and control condition. A s noted above, however, the perspective taking intervention did not impact attributions o f blame or compassion-related emotions. Given that attributions o f blame and compassion-related emotions were not predicted to change i n the emotions/thoughts or control condition and were not observed to change i n  100  the perspective taking condition, it is not surprising that there were no significant differences between these three conditions.  Although the perspective taking intervention significantly decreased anger-related emotions, the level o f anger at the conclusion o f the intervention was not significantly different from either the control condition or the emotion and thoughts condition. This again raises the question o f whether the decrease in anger was due to the effectiveness o f any type o f writing or whether the decrease represents the normal rate o f change over the course o f time. W i t h respect to the former, it is possible that perspective taking decreases anger through mechanisms similar to the thoughts only condition. Specifically, perspective taking allowed individuals to distance themselves from the situation and become more objective, thereby decreasing the emotion-laden response. Future research is needed to examine how anger changes over time (i.e., whether it decreases at a consistent rate over time) and would benefit from the inclusion o f a stronger control condition (i.e., one that is not perceived as therapeutic or relaxing).  Perspective taking also impacted behavioral intentions, however, the results were not entirely as expected. Although perspective taking was associated with decreased retaliation intentions from the start to the conclusion o f the intervention, participants i n the perspective taking condition reported higher intentions to retaliate at the conclusion o f the intervention than did individuals in the emotions and thoughts condition. In other words, although perspective taking decreased intentions to retaliate, this intervention was not as effective i n decreasing retaliation as the emotions and thoughts condition. In  101  contrast to previous research (Takaku, 2001), results indicated that perspective taking was associated with decreased rather than increased intentions to reconcile.  There are several plausible explanations for these results. With respect to retaliation, as discussed above, affective events theory ( A E T ) suggests that perspective taking can decrease retaliation intentions through two pathways: judgment- and affect-driven (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996). In this case, decreased attributions o f blame should impact the judgment-driven pathway, whereas decreased anger should impact the affect-driven pathway. Although both perspective taking and the emotions/thoughts condition can impact the affect-driven pathway, perspective taking should have a significantly greater impact on the judgment-driven pathway than the emotions/thoughts condition because perspective taking directly targets attributions o f blame and is aimed at changing an attitude/perception that is the key antecedent to judgment-driven behavior. In this study, however, since perspective taking did not significantly decrease attributions, its effectiveness was dependent solely on decreasing anger-driven retaliation by reducing anger (i.e., the affect-driven pathway).  This line o f reasoning suggests that perspective taking and writing about emotions and thoughts are operating v i a the same pathway, and retaliation intentions should be impacted to the same degree, particularly since there were no differences between these conditions i n anger. However, as argued above, perspective taking might not be as effective or helpful for organizational injustices when the injustice violates moral standards or principles (e.g., Folger, 2001) and/or reinforces individuals' belief that the transgressor is an unfair person. Moreover, i f dispositional attributions are reinforced,  102  then individuals can still seek to retaliate against the perpetrator or avoid them i n order to prevent being subjected to additional violations. Said differently, although perspective taking and writing about emotions and thoughts might have decreased anger through the affect-driven pathway, these benefits were somewhat negated for perspective taking since the judgment-driven pathway was reinforced.  Perspective taking was expected to increase reconciliation by altering attributions (decreasing attributions o f blame) and impacting emotions (decreasing anger while increasing compassion). In this research, however, perspective taking was only effective at decreasing anger. Given that reconciliation is an active process, in which individuals must exert effort to change the relationship for the better or approach the transgressor, it might not be enough to decrease anger. Instead, the individual might need additional reasons or motivation (e.g., increased compassion, or realizing that the violation was not entirely that persons' fault) in order to approach the perpetrator and attempt to reconcile. Since these changes were not observed i n the current study, individuals were not compelled to reconcile. Moreover, individuals' intentions to reconcile might have decreased, for the reasons described above (i.e., perspective taking about unfairness might have reinforced the negative dispositional attributions). Thus, future research should examine whether the relationship between perspective taking and intentions to reconcile is dependent upon the type o f injustice that is experienced and the ability o f individuals to change their attributions.  Taken together, these results suggest that the perspective taking intervention was effective at decreasing anger and retaliation intentions. Perspective taking, however, was  103  less effective at decreasing retaliation than was writing about emotions and thoughts. Additionally, extensive perspective taking (e.g., repeated perspective taking over the course o f multiple sessions) might have further decreased intentions to reconcile. This suggests that perspective taking alone is not as helpful as writing about emotions and thoughts for individuals who wish to change their retaliation intentions. Moreover, perspective taking can further isolate individuals by decreasing intentions to reconcile. Thus, given that the perspective taking intervention did not significantly impact attributions o f blame and compassion and was less effective for retaliation intentions than the traditional emotions and thoughts writing intervention, the utility o f the perspective taking intervention is questionable. Additionally, when individuals were asked to what degree the study was valuable or meaningful for them, participants i n the perspective taking condition reported significantly lower ratings than individuals i n the emotions and thoughts condition. The significantly smaller response rate for participants i n the perspective taking conditions also suggests that these participants might have been less motivated to complete the questionnaires than participants in the traditional writing intervention conditions. Taken together, this suggests that perspective taking alone did not have added benefits for individuals and was perceived as less valuable than writing about emotions and thoughts.  5.4  Combining Perspective Taking and Writing involving Emotions and Thoughts  The final question examined i n this dissertation was whether combining the perspective taking and the writing interventions (i.e., emotions/thoughts) enhanced the effects as compared to either intervention alone or to the control condition.  104  Although both interventions displayed some promising results, the results suggest that writing involving emotions and thoughts was the most effective writing condition. Specifically, although each o f the conditions displayed some benefits in terms o f reducing self-report physical symptoms, the emotions and thoughts condition resulted i n significantly higher general life satisfaction at the conclusion o f the intervention than the combined, perspective taking only, and control condition. Moreover, when compared to the perspective taking only condition, participants who wrote about their emotions and thoughts reported significantly fewer intentions to retaliate. Thus, i n addition to exhibiting the same benefits as the other conditions, writing involving emotions and thoughts had additional advantages. Given that perspective taking might entail some risks and have potentially negative side effects, this study suggests that writing involving emotions and thoughts (without perspective taking) is the most effective and beneficial intervention.  5.5  Theoretical Implications and Avenues for Future Research  In addition to addressing the four questions above, this research raises additional implications for justice theories and future research, which are explored i n this section.  5.5.1  Manager- versus Employee-Centered Perspectives  This study used an employee-centered perspective and viewed victims o f organizational injustice as active participants i n the healing process. Bies and Tripp (2002) argued that the victim's perspective has been under-emphasized i n the field o f organizational justice,  105  in part, because justice scholars have tended to be "pro-management" i n their orientation and analysis o f issues. That is, justice researchers have tended to emphasize a managercentered perspective, which considers the experience o f injustice through the viewpoint and interests o f the organization and its managers. The manager-centered perspective has particular importance for issues relating to emotions and coping with injustice, since it portrays an "incomplete and skewed perspective," in which "it is expected that the employee, i f he or she is a 'professional,' w i l l squelch, swallow, suppress, eliminate, or otherwise control" their reaction, and i n particular their emotional reactions to injustice (Bies & Tripp, 2002: 214). Failure to do so, signals that something is wrong with the employee.  Adopting an employee-centered perspective, i n contrast, allows a more complete examination o f employees' experience o f organizational injustice. Consistent with the manager-centered approach, previous research has comprehensively studied how employees' react to injustice, since this has implications for organizations and managers (e.g., commitment, turnover rates, theft) as well as the bottom line (e.g., employee performance, litigation). The focus on employees' negative reactions, however, has come at the expense o f understanding how employees cope with injustice and ultimately put it behind them.  This study provides a first step in understanding how victims o f workplace injustice can "heal their own wounds" and cope with the injustice. It also suggests that more attention needs to be directed toward understanding the coping process from a victim's perspective, including identifying the mechanisms involved, examining how coping  106  unfolds over the course o f time, and exploring how the process can be facilitated. Moreover, this focus need not come at the expense o f manager-centered approaches. Instead, integrating employee-centered perspectives can inform these approaches. Specifically, managers and organizations that understand victims' experiences o f injustice might be better able to effectively manage these experiences.  Although results were mixed, this study suggests that intervention studies may be a fruitful avenue for future justice research. A s noted above, justice research has focused on studying the consequences o f fairness violations and how to mitigate negative reactions to injustice (see Colquitt et a l , 2001 for a review). There has been a paucity o f research examining interventions, and the relatively few studies that do examine interventions, tend do to so from a manager-centered perspective (e.g., training interventions aimed at increasing managers' knowledge of justice principles; Greenberg, 2006; Skarlicki & Latham, 1996). Despite managers' best intentions, injustice occurs i n organizations. Understanding what to do when that happens and how to facilitate the coping process is of paramount importance. Thus, it is hoped that this study w i l l act as a springboard for future intervention research.  5.5.2  The Dark Side of Injustice  Previous research has tended to focus on the "dark side o f injustice," i n particular negative behaviors such as revenge (Bies & Tripp, 1996) and retaliation (Allred, 1999, 2000; Skarlicki & Folger, 1997). A s noted above, retaliation was believed to help victims restore justice and deal with the strong negative emotions, such as anger, that are  107  typically experienced i n response to a negative event (Allred, 1999; Bies & Tripp, 1996; 2002). Although retaliation can provide temporary relief, it is aimed at punishing the transgressor and not necessarily at helping the victim heal the wounds inflicted by the injustice.  This study is a first step in considering that writing interventions can provide a positive approach to dealing with unfairness and can significantly increase individuals' psychological well-being. Moreover, similar to previous research, which has focused on the role o f venting emotion and sensemaking (and the subsequent reduction i n inhibition) as the central mechanisms that account for the effectiveness o f the writing intervention (Pennebaker, 1997a; Smyth, 1998), participants i n this study also indicated that the writing helped them relieve negative emotions and/or clarify the situation i n their minds (see Table 30 for representative quotes).  Interestingly, participants noted i n their writing, without being prompted, several other reasons why they found the writing to be personally helpful in dealing with the organizational injustice (see Table 30 for a summary). These concepts relate primarily to empowerment (cf. Conger & Kanungo, 1988), and several o f these concepts have been identified i n previous research as being important to justice perceptions and/or reactions to unfairness.  Empowerment has been defined as a multi-faceted concept that includes meaning (i.e., the value o f a goal or purpose as judged i n relation to the individual's own ideals), competence (i.e., self-efficacy), self-determination (i.e., the belief that one has choice i n  108  initiating and regulating actions), and impact (degree to which individual can influence outcomes) (Thomas & Velthouse, 1990). In terms o f meaning, some participants found that the writing provided self-affirmation or self-validation. That is, it made them believe that their thoughts and feelings about the injustice were legitimate or that they did not deserve to be treated unfairly. Feather (1999) argued that evaluations o f deservingness, in which individuals assess whether they are personally responsible for actions that lead to outcomes, are important to justice perceptions since most individuals believe that they deserve to be treated fairly. Some participants indicated that writing enhanced their confidence i n their own abilities and/or gave them a sense o f control over the experience. Moreover, it made them realize that they had the ability and skills to cope with the negative experience. Other participants noted that the writing helped them learn from the situation and recognize how they could have behaved or reacted differently, which relates to self-determination and impact. Moreover, some participants indicated that writing helped them identify their own personal issues and how these issues impacted the negative experience and their reaction to it.  Taken together, writing appears be a constructive and positive way to cope with injustice. Although the results were not as strong as predicted, this study has revealed several possibilities. For instance, feelings o f personal empowerment may be an important mechanism, i n addition to venting emotion and sensemaking, which could help explain the effectiveness o f the writing intervention, particularly within the context o f organizational injustices. Alternatively, empowerment might be a mediator between venting emotion, sensemaking, and the outcomes o f writing. Given the pervasiveness o f  109  empowerment concepts observed within the writing, it is clear that this is an important construct whose role i n the writing intervention should be examined i n future research.  5.5.3  Event versus Entity Justice Judgments  Cropanzano et al. (2001) argued that justice research has been characterized by two paradigms: events versus social entities. Research using the event paradigm examines individuals' reactions to a specific event or experience and assumes that reactions to people (e.g., supervisors, transgressors) and social entities (e.g., organizations) result from how individuals respond to the event i n question. The social entity paradigm, in contrast, focuses on evaluative appraisals o f some person (e.g., supervisor, transgressor), group, or organization over time and/or across situations (i.e., these appraisals are made across specific events and situations). Evaluations involving social entities tend to include historical information about the relationship and inferences about the social entities' intentions. A central concern o f the social entity paradigm is how individuals navigate interpersonal relationships with (un)fair social entities (Cropanzano & Byrne, 2000). A key question underlying the event paradigm is whether the event itself is (un)fair, whereas the social entity paradigm is concerned with whether a social entity is (un)fair. For instance, the question o f whether a supervisor was fair while giving a performance review would represent an event approach whereas the question o f whether the supervisor was fair, i n general, would represent as social entity approach.  In this dissertation, I used an event approach, such that participants were asked to "write about an unfair workplace experience" from their supervisor. That is, participants focused  110  on a single experience o f workplace injustice. M y assumption was that by focusing on individuals' reactions to the single event, the intervention could change their reactions to the perpetrator (i.e., whether they wished to retaliate or were willing to reconcile). This view might have been too simplistic since it assumes that the event participants wrote about was the most dominant part o f the justice perception and subsequent reaction. A closer look at the data, however, shows that over 68% o f participants had experienced more than the one episode o f unfairness from the same person, with an average o f approximately 7 additional episodes (the number o f experiences ranged from 1 through 60).  B y focusing on one unfair event, the historical and contextual nature o f the perceptions was underemphasized. In other words, the event was being examined i n isolation, without considering how prior or subsequent events impacted perceptions (e.g., by reinforcing negative attitudes or creating a filter through which the event was viewed). This suggests that focusing on one event, without considering the context i n which it occurred, can make it difficult to change overall perceptions o f justice. For instance, although individuals might be able to concede that the one event wasn't entirely the perpetrator's fault, it does not necessarily mean that this perception w i l l extend to the other experiences or to the entity. This reasoning is consistent with decision-making and fairness heuristic theories. Previous research i n decision-making, for instance, has demonstrated that individuals hold a confirmation bias, such that they tend to process or interpret information i n such a way that it confirms their preconceptions. Specifically, they can actively seek or assign more weight to evidence that confirms their perspective and ignore or underemphasize information that challenges their viewpoint (Klayman & H a ,  111  1987). Fairness heuristic theory (e.g., Tyler & L i n d , 1992; van den Bos, Vermunt, & Wilke, 1997), similarly, suggests that justice judgments are more sensitive to fairnessrelated information that comes first than fairness information that comes at a later time. In the context o f the current study, this suggests that although individuals might change their perceptions about the initial event, this might not be enough to change the reactions to subsequent events and evaluations o f the social entity (e.g., the person is still unfair, even though the one event might not have been entirely his or her fault).  Future research would benefit from exploring whether the intervention is differentially effective for singular versus multiple events. Additionally, it would be interesting to examine whether writing on an ongoing basis (i.e., after each event occurs) can prevent perceptions o f unfairness and the negative consequences associated with experiencing injustice from snowballing or having a cumulative negative effect.  5.5.4  The Role of the Victim's Motivation to "Put it Behind" Them  In the previous section, I noted that the intervention might be differentially effective for single versus multiple events or social entity perceptions because individuals might be more willing to give the benefit o f the doubt for a single injustice versus a history o f unfairness or a person who is deemed unfair. Underlying this discussion is the assumption that there may be some instances where individuals are more motivated to deal with the injustice than others. That is, in some cases, individuals may wish to put the injustice behind them whereas with other violations, individuals might not be ready to move on or might wish to remain angry or upset with the perpetrator. Individuals, for  112  instance, can prolong anger when they think it w i l l help them make changes i n their environment (e.g., make a complaint, point out an injustice) or do things that they would find difficult without being angry (e.g., confronting an unfair boss) (Tice & Baumeister, 1993). Moreover, it is possible that in certain instances it is beneficial for the individual to keep the injustice at the forefront o f their thoughts. Similar to Bies and Tripp's (1996) argument that retaliation can be constructive and pro-social when it deters power abuse by authorities, promotes cooperation between conflicting parties, and initiates positive changes i n organizational policies, it is possible that individuals who harbor an injustice can gain positive benefits when it makes them vigilant towards future violations or exploitation. For example, i f an individual is faced with a supervisor who repeatedly steals his or her ideas, rather than putting these injustices i n the past and forgiving them, it might be necessary for the individual to draw on these experiences to find another way to constructively resolve the situation.  Future research should examine the role o f motivation i n the effectiveness o f the writing intervention. Specifically, it would be beneficial to examine whether the intervention is more effective when individuals feel like they are ready to deal with the unfairness and put it behind them as compared to individuals who do not feel ready to write about the experience or feel that it can be constructive to harbor their current feelings about the injustice. Finally, as noted above, individuals might be differentially motivated or find it easier to put some types o f fairness behind them rather than others.  113  5.5.5  Effectiveness of Writing on the Different Dimensions and Sources of Organizational Injustice  There has been an extensive amount o f research exploring the different dimensions o f organizational justice (see Colquitt et al., 2001 for a meta-analytic review) and how the justice dimensions interact to predict outcomes (e.g., Brockner & Wiesenfeld, 1996). In this dissertation, however, I explored general experiences o f unfairness, which included violations o f distributive (outcomes), procedural (process), and interactional (interpersonal treatment) justice. I chose to focus on general experiences o f injustice because it is important to first demonstrate a main effect o f the writing interventions on unfairness. Future research should examine whether the writing intervention might be more useful for some types o f fairness violations than others.  I also chose to limit the source o f unfairness to that which originated from supervisors. Multi-foci justice research has demonstrated that individuals can distinguish the source o f injustice and tend to respond to the entities responsible (Cropanzano et al. 2001; Liao & Rupp, 2005; Rupp & Cropanzano, 2002). M y choice to constrain violations to supervisors is consistent with previous justice research that has emphasized injustice originating from supervisors (e.g., Bies & Moag, 1986). It also ensures that participants could identify one target person for the violation. Moreover, it reduces the "noise" that can occur when differences i n power, status, and the like come into play.  Although I focused on violations from supervisors in this dissertation, employees can experience injustice from a variety o f sources including customers and co-workers. These  114  relationships might have different dynamics than the relationship between supervisors and subordinates as well as different demands on individuals. Customer service representatives, for example, can find that the task o f dealing with others' problems on a daily basis combined with the inability to talk back, as well as the frequent disrespect and incivility they receive from customers can be draining over the long term (Grandey, 2000). It is possible that writing about unfairness from customers can help them deal with the burnout and emotional labor that can come with their position. Future research should explore whether the writing intervention is differentially effective for other sources o f unfairness and whether it can be used on an ongoing basis.  The benefits o f the writing interventions might not be limited to victims o f injustice. It is possible, for instance, that they might also prove helpful for supervisors or transgressors because writing can help them deal with the emotions (e.g., shame and guilt) associated with a transgression and overcome the tendency to avoid victims o f injustice when they are experiencing negative emotions (Folger & Skarlicki, 1998; 2001). For example, a supervisor who must layoff an employee might find that writing helps them clarify what they are thinking and feeling about the situation and identify how they can implement the layoff in an empathic and compassionate manner. Transgressors might benefit not only from writing interventions but also from perspective taking. B y engaging i n perspective taking, transgressors might better understand the victim's reaction to the transgression and what they, as the transgressor, need to do to reconcile and/or fix the situation.  115  5.6  Practical Implications  This study examined the effectiveness o f writing interventions for victims o f organizational injustice. Although results were not as strong as expected, they suggest that writing about unfairness can be an effective tool that individuals can use to mitigate the negative consequences o f experiencing injustice, including negative effects on their physical and psychological health, as well as emotions and behaviors, to varying degrees. Moreover, writing interventions offer a cost-effective way for individuals to deal with injustice, which can be self-prescribed and easily used by individuals (L'Abate, 1991).  Although further research is needed, preliminary evidence from this study suggests that writing about unfairness can also be empowering for individuals. Brockner (2002) suggested that individuals might be better able to cope with injustices, i f they engage i n activities that are inherently self-affirming or self-restorative. Writing about injustice is one avenue through which this can occur.  Writing about injustice can also help individuals shift from focusing on the negatives associated with the injustice and recognize some o f the positive outcomes, including recognizing their own personal strength and perseverance, their coping resources, and as well as acknowledging lessons that can be used in the future when negative events occur.  116  5.6.1  Using the Intervention: A Word of Caution  The writing intervention used i n this study was developed i n clinical settings with traumatic events. It is a very personal exercise that is typically done i n a very private manner. Given the nature o f writing interventions, an important question to ask is how appropriate are writing interventions for the workplace and when should they be used?  The focus o f this dissertation was to explore whether victims o f workplace injustice can use writing interventions as a tool when they are left to their own devices to cope with the experience. The intervention is not intended as the "first-line o f defense" when an unfair situation occurs, nor does it absolve the organization or managers o f their responsibilities. Ideally, when an organizational injustice occurs, the organization or manager would recognize that their employees felt unfairly treated, take the time to listen to their employees' concerns, and have the skills to " f i x " the violation. In these instances, the intervention might not be necessary or might act only as an added bonus. The intervention might be particularly useful, however, when individuals are having difficulties dealing with the residual effects o f an unfair situation, when they no longer have contact with the offending party (e.g., they were laid off), or when attempts by managers/organizations to fix the injustice fail.  Moreover, it would be dangerous for organizations to implement writing interventions as a matter o f policy (e.g., any employee who feels unfairly treated must write about his or her experience), for a variety o f reasons. First, organizations and managers must take responsibility to deal with employees' perceptions o f injustice; particularly since  117  recognizing and resolving unfair situations is key to a healthy employee-employer relationship (see Colquitt et al., 2001 for a review). Second, i f writing is mandated, it creates a different dynamic and employees might feel like they have to censor or tailor their writing, especially i f they believe that the organization/managers have access to it. Third, i f organizations and/or managers are privy to the writings, it can entail legal obligations or create breaches in confidentiality.  Thus, as a tool, the writing intervention is likely to be used most appropriately when it is suggested on an individual basis by employee assistance programs and/or human resource managers to be used privately by the employee or when the employees themselves recognize that it might be useful for their particular situation and self-administer the intervention.  5.7  Limitations  The majority o f the sample consisted o f undergraduate students who had been in the workforce for an average o f 5 years. Most o f the participants worked i n service (39%) or sales (24%), whereas relatively fewer worked in professional settings (21%). Although the participants wrote about a wide range o f topics (see Methods section), given the young student sample, these topics might not be representative o f the issues faced by the general working public. It is also possible that individuals with less work experience and who might be i n the process o f training for a new career may not react i n the same way as individuals who are well established in the occupations, have extensive work experience, and are heavily invested in their work environment.  118  The sample was also heavily skewed towards females (73%). Previous research has demonstrated that the proportion o f males included i n the sample is positively related to the overall effect size o f the writing intervention (P = .80) (Smyth, 1998), which suggests that men might benefit more from writing than woman. Given the relatively smaller proportion o f men included i n the sample, the effects observed i n the current study could be overly conservative.  Although the writing intervention has been primarily studied with North American samples, other studies with French-speaking individuals i n Belgium (Rime, 1995), Spanish-speaking Mexicans (Dominguez et al. 1995), and English-speaking N e w Zealanders (Petrie, Booth, Pennebaker, Davidson, & Thomson, 1995) have also found beneficial effects o f writing. In the current study, the majority o f the sample was Asian (58%), with Caucasians comprising the second largest group (30%). Although previous research has found that there are no differences i n benefits among college students as a function o f ethnicity or native language (Pennebaker, Zech, & Rime, 2001), the current sample is quite different than the norm used in writing interventions, which might limit the generalizability o f the results.  Additionally, the writing interventions were studied within a laboratory setting. Although laboratory studies provide researchers control o f extraneous variables, they can be limited by problems associated with demand characteristics and the artificiality o f the research setting (Gordon, Slade, & Schmitt, 1986; 1987). In this study, however, it is unlikely that a laboratory poses a substantial threat to the study. Participants i n the study were focused on independent writing. Although they might encounter more distractions i n the field, it is  119  likely that the general process remains the same. Nonetheless, it is important to investigate whether the results generalize to field settings.  5.8  Conclusion  In this dissertation, I set out to explore the question: Can victims o f workplace unfairness "heal the wounds" o f injustice on their own and thereby mitigate the negative physiological, psychological, and behavioral consequences associated with unfairness by writing about the experience? I found that the psychological benefits o f writing interventions found in the trauma and coping literature replicate for organizational injustices. M i x e d results, however, were observed for the replication o f the effects o f writing on physical health. Specifically, although physical symptoms were found to decrease from the start to the conclusion o f the intervention, they were not significantly different than the control group.  I also extended the writing intervention to justice-relevant variables, including angerrelated emotions and retaliation. A l l o f the traditional writing conditions were associated with decreased anger-related emotions. Retaliation intentions were not significantly decreased across conditions, although results suggested i f more power was available, participants i n the emotions/thoughts condition would have been significantly less likely to retaliate at the conclusion o f the intervention than participants i n the emotions only, thoughts only, and control conditions.  120  I explored the effects o f perspective taking and comparatively tested perspective taking against the control condition as well as the emotions and thoughts condition. I found that perspective taking interventions affected anger-related emotions and behaviors (retaliation and reconciliation) but did not impact attributions o f blame or compassionrelated emotions. Perspective taking was not as effective in decreasing retaliation or increasing general life satisfaction as writing involving emotions and thoughts.  I also explored the effects o f combining the two interventions versus the individual interventions, and the control condition. Results indicated that the most effective intervention was the condition involving both emotions and thoughts.  Theoretically, these findings highlight the importance o f examining the experience o f injustice from the perspective o f the victim and exploring positive and constructive ways of dealing with injustice, rather than focusing primarily on the "dark side" o f injustice. Practically, these findings suggest that victims o f workplace injustice can mitigate some of the negative effects o f experiencing workplace injustice by writing about the event. Moreover, since this intervention is inexpensive and can be used with little training (L'Abate, 1991), it can empower victims o f workplace injustice to actively heal their own wounds, particularly when left to their own devices to deal with the effects o f an injustice.  121  Table 1 Organizational  Justice Items and  Reliabilities  Justice Dimension  Items  Reliability at Initial Session  Interpersonal  Treat you in a polite manner?  .80  Treat you with respect? Treat you with dignity? Refrain from making improper remarks or comments? Informational  Explain the procedures thoroughly?  .81  Provide reasonable explanations? Communicate details in a timely manner? Tailor his/her communication to meet your specific needs Procedural  Allowed you to express your views and feelings?  .79  Allowed you to have you had influence over the outcome arrived at by those procedures? Were applied consistently? Were free of bias? Were based on accurate information? Allowed you to appeal the outcome arrived at by those procedures? Upheld ethical and moral standards? Distributive  Reflective of the effort you put into your work?  .89  Appropriate for the work you completed? Reflective of what you contributed to the organization? Justified, given your performance?  Note: Items measured on a 7-point Likert-type scale (0 = not applicable; 1 = not at all; 7 = to a great extent). Item stem for interpersonal and informational justice was: "Please indicate to what extent your supervisor...." The item stem for procedural and distributive justice was: "Please indicate to what extent the procedures/outcome...."  122  Table 2 Means, Standard Deviations, and Significance Tests of Differences across Conditions at the Initial Session for Organizational Justice  Variables  Justice Dimension  Mean  Standard Deviation  Differences Between Conditions  Interpersonal  2.70  1.29  F ( 6 , 168) = .92,p>.05  Informational  2.30  1.09  F ( 6 , 167)= 1.71, p>.05  Procedural  2.13  .92  F ( 6 , 159)= 1.04, p>.05  Distributive  1.97  1.36  F ( 6 , 161) = .95,p>.05  Note. A l l justice variables were measured using Colquitt's (2001) scale as presented in Table 1.  123  Table 3 LIWC Analysis of Proportion  of Negative Emotion Words in Writing Samples  Condition (I)  Mean  Condition (J)  Emotions Only  2.85  Thoughts Emotions & Thoughts Control Emotions Emotions & Thoughts Control Emotions  Mean Difference (I-J) .85 .40 1.24 -.85 -.44 .40 -.40  Thoughts Control Emotions Thoughts Emotions & Thoughts  .44 .84 -1.24 -.40 -.84  Thoughts Only  2.00  Emotions & Thoughts  2.44  Control  1.60  Significance t  * t  * *  Note. Results averaged across four writing samples. Two-tailed Alphas t p < . 10, * p < .05  124  Table 4 Means and Standard Deviations for the Initial Session, Final Writing Session, and 1-Month  Follow-Up 1-Month Follow-up  Final Writing Session  Time  Initial Session  Variable  Mean  SD  Mean  SD  Mean  SD  Physical Symptoms  2.89  1.03  2.45  1.10  2.95  .96  General Life Satisfaction  4.17  1.40  4.77  1.38  4.74  1.33  Anger Emotions  4.56  1.40  3.32  1.63  3.18  1.51  Compassion Emotions  1.83  .90  1.64  .93  1.61  .79  Attributions o f Blame  5.16  1.38  5.02  1.45  4.96  1.65  Retaliation Intentions  2.77  1.32  2.17  1.37  2.38  1.45  Reconciliation Intentions  3.02  1.27  2.82  1.43  2.76  1.42  Table 5 Inter-Correlations  Variable  Between Study Variables  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  1. Gender 2. Age 3. Months 4. T l : Physical 5. W4: Physical 6. T5: Physical 7. T l : GLS 8. W4: GLS 9. T5: GLS 10. T l : Anger 11. W4: Anger 12. T5: Anger to  .04  -  -.03  .26*  .12  -.05  -.05  (.83)  .22*  -.02  -.06  .61*  (.89)  .22*  -.05  -.14  .60*  .58*  (.90)  .04  -.20*  .05  -.20*  -.20*  -.10  (.89)  .04  -.18*  .02  -.19*  -.29*  -.14  .79*  (.92)  .01  -.18  .09  -.11  -.26*  -.21*  .75*  .79*  (.93)  .18*  -.03  -.12  .16*  .16*  .11  -.04  .00  .08  (.93)  .03  .09  -.11  .14  .29*  .30*  -.10  -.17*  -.17  .47*  (.95)  .16  .02  -.09  .09  .16  .27*  -.17  -.18  -.18  .45*  .75*  (.95)  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  13. TI: Compassion 14. W4: Compassion 15. T5: Compassion 16. TI: Attributions 17. W4: Attributions 18. T5: Attributions 19. T l : Retaliate 20. W4: Retaliate 21. T5: Retaliate 22. T l : Reconcile 23. W4: Reconcile 24. T5: Reconcile  K)  .05  .08  -.01  .04  .09  .14  -.03  -.10  .08  .06  .02  -.11  (.87)  -.12  .07  .14  -.04  .12  .03  .10  .02  .04  .01  -.06  -.13  .58*  (.93)  .01  .28*  .16  .13  .42*  .26*  .03  .00  -.13  -.02  .20  .12  .52*  .67*  (.91)  .11  .11  .09  .05  .05  -.07  -.09  -.06  .03  .34*  .17*  .22*  -.16*  -.19*  -.14  (.86)  .08  .10  -.01  .07  .12  .07  -.19*  -.19*  -.21*  .39*  .41*  .42*  -.09  -.19*  -.10  .56*  (.89)  .10  .00  -.01  .04  .02  .05  -.11  -.15  -.01  .31*  .34*  .39*  -.20*  -.14  -.21*  .63*  .72*  (.84)  .05  -.08  -.06  .04  .02  .05  -.16*  -.12  -.10  .42*  .17*  .31*  .07  -.05  -.14  .24*  .18*  .24*  (.83)  -.03  .01  -.08  .00  .10  .13  -.19*  -.22*  -.29*  .34*  .45*  .51*  .01  -.05  .06  .18*  .37*  .31*  .69*  (.91)  .00  -.02  -.16  .06  .14  .07  -.24*  -.27*  -.24*  .34*  .45*  .50*  -.06  -.07  .03  .20  .24*  .24*  .63*  .78*  (-90)  -.12  .02  .08  .14  .06  -.02  -.07  -.04  .08  -.17*  -.02  -.27*  .19*  .24*  .36*  -.31*  -.20*  -.26*  -.26*  -.29*  -.25*  (.82)  -.08  .00  .09  .08  .08  .01  .09  .05  .20  -.13  -.19*  -.28*  .30*  .42*  .33*  -.30*  -.42*  -.34*  -.15  -.27*  -.28*  .65*  (.82)  -.20  .08  .15  .06  .07  .04  .29*  .25*  .13  -.21  -.24*  -.28*  .26*  .49*  .44*  -.39*  -.38*  -.37*  -.30*  -.31*  -.31*  .77*  .87*  Notes: Months = Number of months since the violation occurred; GLS = General Life Satisfaction T l : Initial Session; W4: Final Writing Session; T5: 1-Month Follow-Up * Correlation is significant at the .05 level (2-tailed)  (.86)  Table 6 Analysis of Variance for Self-Report Physical Symptoms (Traditional Intervention  Writing  Conditions)  Source  df  F Between subjects  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  1 1 1 1 3 63  34.92 1.51 3.32 .26 .57 (2.54)  ** t  n  2  Sig.  .36 .02 .05 .00 .03  .01 .22 .07 .61 .64  .07 .02 .00 .02 .04  .01 .24 .88 .35 .53  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * * * *  Age Gender When Condition  2 2 2 2 6 126  4.93 1.43 .13 1.05 .86 (.38)  **  Note. Values enclosed in parentheses represent mean square errors. Two-tailed Alphas f p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  128  Table 7 Analysis of Variance for General Life Satisfaction  (Traditional  Writing Intervention  Conditions)  Source  df  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  1 1 1 1 3 63  F Between subjects 87.28 .55 .99 .09 1.83 (4.12)  **  if  Sig.  .58 .01 .02 .01 .08  .00 .46 .32 .77 .15  .03 .03 .04 .01 .09  .14 .19 .07 .51 .07  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * Age * Gender * When * Condition  2 2 2 2 6 126  1.98 1.66 2.66 .67 1.98 (.37)  t t  Note. Values enclosed in parentheses represent mean square errors. Two-tailed Alphas f p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  129  Table 8 Between Subject Effects at the Conclusion of the Writing Intervention:  General Life  Satisfaction  Source Intercept Age Gender When Life Satisfaction at Time 1 Condition Error  df  F  1  18.84  1 1 1 1 3 89  2.67 .55 .12 151.21 2.42  if  Sig.  **  .18  .00  ** t  .03 .01 .01 .63 .08  .11 .46 .73 .00 .07  Note. Two-tailed Alphas f p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  130  Table 9 Mean Differences Between Conditions at the Conclusion of the Writing General Life  Satisfaction  Condition (I) Emotions Only  Thoughts Only  Emotions & Thoughts  Control  Intervention:  Estimated Mean 4.90(a)  4.74(a)  5.27(a)  4.70(a)  Std. Error .16  .16  .16  .16  Condition (J) Thoughts Emotions Thoughts Control Emotions Emotions Thoughts Control Emotions  Only &  Thoughts Control Emotions Thoughts Emotions Thoughts  Only  Only &  Std. Error .23  Mean Diff. (I-J) .16 -.38  t  *  .04 Only  Only Only &  .49 .10  .23 .23 .23  .19 -.16 -.53  Sig.  .39 .49 .03  .24 .23  .38  t  .23  .53 .57 -.19 -.04  * *  .24 .24 .23 .23  -.57  *  .24  .87 .10 .03 .02 .40 .87 .02  Note. (a) Covariates appearing in the model are evaluated at the following values: gender = .7423, age = 22.5773, when = 16.4742, life satisfaction at Time 1= 4.3052. Two-tailed Alphas f p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  131  Table 10 Between Subject Effects at the 1-Month Follow-Up:  Source Intercept Age Gender When Life Satisfaction at Time 1 Condition Error  General Life  df  F  1  12.18  1 1 1 1 3 63  2.37 2.15 .60 65.38 4.15 (.766)  Satisfaction  Sig. **  .16  .00  ** **  .04 .03 .01 .51 .17  .13 .15 .44 .00 .01  Note. Two-tailed Alphas t p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  132  Table 11 Mean Differences Between Conditions at the 1-Month Follow-Up:  General Life  Satisfaction  Condition (I) Emotions Only  Thoughts Only  Emotions & Thoughts  Control  Estimated Mean 5.09(a)  4.49(a)  5.46(a)  4.58(a)  Std. Error .21  .21  .22  .22  Condition (J) Thoughts Emotions Thoughts Control Emotions Emotions Thoughts Control Emotions  Only &  Thoughts Control Emotions Thoughts Emotions Thoughts  Only  Only &  Only  Only Only &  Std. Error .30  Sig.  .30  .22  .30 .30  .10 .05  -.97  .31  .00  -.10  .30  .75  .37  .30  .22  .31 .32 .30 .30  .01 .01 .10 .75  .32  .01  Mean Diff. (I-J) .60  *  -.37 .50 -.60  .97 .88 -.50 .10 -.88  t  *  ** ** t  **  Note. (a) Covariates appearing in the model are evaluated at the following values: gender = .7606, age = 22.5915, when = 16.5915, life satisfaction at Time 1= 4.3690. Two-tailed Alphas t p < . 10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  133  .05  Table 12 Analysis of Variance for Anger Emotions (Traditional  Writing Intervention  Sig.  df  Source  Conditions)  Between subjects Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  1 1 1 1 3 63  25.64 ** .00 4.05 * .06 1.63  .29 .00 .06 .00 .07  .00 .97 .05 .80 .19  .04 .00 .04 .02 .04  .10 .87 .06 .32 .49  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * * * *  Age Gender When Condition  2 2 2 2 6 126  2.35 .14 2.81 1.16 .91 (.97)  Note. Values enclosed in parentheses represent mean square errors. Two-tailed Alphas | P < -10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  134  Table 13 Analysis of Variance for Retaliation (Traditional  Writing Intervention  Source  df  F Between subjects  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  1 1 1 1 3 63  4.67 * 2.54 .42 2.62 2.52 t (4.58)  Conditions)  rVJ  Sig^  .07 .04 .01 .04 .11  .04 .12 .52 .11 .07  .01 .01 .06 .00 .01  .63 .71 .02 .92 .96  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * * * *  Age Gender When Condition  2 2 2 2 6 126  .47 .34 4.18 .08 .25 (•64)  *  Note. Two-tailed Alphas t p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  135  Table 14 Between Subject Effects at the Conclusion of the Writing Intervention:  Source Intercept Age Gender When Retaliation at Time 1 Condition Error  Retaliation  df  F  "  Sig.  1  .21  .46  .65  1 1 1 1 3 87  1.29 1.26 1.16 64.51 .95 (1.04)  .00 .02 .01 .01 .43 .03  .26 .26 .28 .00 .42  2  **  Note. Two-tailed Alphas t p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  136  Table 15 Mean Differences Between Conditions at the Conclusion of the Writing  Intervention:  Retaliation  Condition (I) Emotions Only  Thoughts Only  Emotions & Thoughts  Control  Estimated Mean 2.21(a)  2.28(a)  1.83(a)  2.26(a)  Std. Error .21  .22  .21  .22  Condition (J) Thoughts Emotions Thoughts Control Emotions Emotions Thoughts Control Emotions  Only &  Thoughts Control Emotions Thoughts Emotions Thoughts  Only  Only &  Only  Only Only &  Mean Diff. (I-J) -.07  Std. Error .30  Sig.  .37  .30  .21  -.06 .07  .31 .30  .86 .81  .45  .31  .15  .02  .31  .96  -.37  .30  .21  -.45 -.43 .056 -.02  .31 .31 .31 .31  .15 .17 .86 .96  .43  .31  .17  Note. (a) Covariates appearing in the model are evaluated at the following values: gender = .7474, age = 22.6105, when = 16.6632, retaliation at Time 1= 2.8884. Two-tailed Alphas f p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  137  .81  Table 16  Analysis of Variance for Attributions of Blame (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts,  and Control  Conditions)  Source  df  F Between subjects  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  1 1 1 1 2 65  50.01 ** .05 13.66 ** .22 1.15 (3.01)  H  2  Sig.  .44 .00 .17 .00 .03  .00 .83 .00 .64 .32  .00 .00 .00 .02 .04  .68 .87 .93 .22 .24  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * Age * Gender * When * Condition  1 1 1 1 2 65  .17 .02 .01 1.52 1.45 (.57)  Note. Values enclosed in parentheses represent mean square errors. Two-tailed Alphas t p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  138  Table 17 Analysis of Variance for Compassion Emotions (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts,  and Control  Conditions)  Source  df  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  1 1 1 1 2 65  F Between subjects 31.84 ** 1.18 2.58 2.19 2.71 t (.93)  if  Sig.  .33 .02 .04 .03 .08  .00 .28 .11 .14 .07  .00 .00 .03 .00 .02  .99 .97 .19 .97 .51  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * Age * Gender * When * Condition  1 1 1 1 2 65  .00 .00 1.76 .00 .69 (.31)  Note. Values enclosed in parentheses represent mean square errors. Two-tailed Alphas t P < -10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  139  Table 18 Between Subject Effects at the Conclusion of the Writing Intervention for (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts,  Source Intercept Age Gender When Compassion at Time 1 Condition Error  and Control  df  F  1  4.86  1 . 1 1 1 2 64  Compassion  Conditions)  Tl  *  .22 3.48 t .50 20.97 ** .04 (.50)  2  Sig.  .07  .03  .00 .05 .01 .25 .00  .64 .07 .48 .00 .96  Note. Two-tailed Alphas t P < -10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  140  Table 19 Analysis of Variance for Anger Emotions (Perspective Taking Only, and Control  Emotions/Thoughts,  Conditions)  Source  df  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  1 1 1 1 2 67  F Between subjects 35.23 ** .19 7.48 ** 7 2\ ** .43 (3.12)  "  2  Sig.  .35 .00 .10 .10 .01  .00 .66 .01 .01 .65  .05 .01 .03 .00 .06  .06 .55 .16 .68 .15  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * Age * Gender * When * Condition  1 1 1 1 2 67  3.68 .37 2.07 .17 1.95 (.85)  t  Note. Values enclosed in parentheses represent mean square errors. Two-tailed Alphas | p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  141  Table 20 Analysis of Variance for Retaliation (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts, Control  and  Conditions)  Source  df  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  1 1 1 1 2 65  F Between subjects 31.24 1.03 .04 1.95 .25 (2.57)  **  rf  Sig.  .33 .02 .00 .03 .01  .00 .31 .84 .17 .78  .04 .01 .01 .04 .06  .11 .38 .59 .10 .14  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * Age * Gender * When * Condition  1 1 1 1 2 65  2.61 .77 .30 2.78 2.00 (•43)  Note. Values enclosed in parentheses represent mean square errors. Two-tailed Alphas \ p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  142  Table 21 Between Subject Effects at the Conclusion of the Writing Intervention for (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts,  Source Intercept Age Gender When Retaliation at Time 1 Condition Error  and Control  df  F  1 1 1 1 1 2 64  Retaliation  Conditions)  2  Sig.  .09  .00  .76  .21 .19 3.95 66.08 1.67 (.78)  .00 .00 .06 .51 .05  .65 .67 .05 .00 .20  Tl  * **  Note. Two-tailed Alphas t P < -10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  143  Table 22 Mean Differences at the Conclusion of the Writing Intervention for Retaliation Conditions (Perspective Taking Only, Emotions/Thoughts,  Condition (I) Emotions & Thoughts Perspective Taking Only Control  Estimated Mean 1.66(a)  2.11(a)  2.02(a)  Std. Error .18  .19  .19  Condition (J) Perspective Taking Only Control Emotions & Thoughts Control Emotions & Thoughts Perspective Taking Only  and Control  Between  Conditions)  MeanDiff. Q-Y)  Std. Error  Sig.  .26  .09  .27  .19  .26  .09  .09  .27  .75  .36  .27  .18  -.09  .27  .75  -.45  t  -.36 .45  t  Note. (a) Covariates appearing in the model are evaluated at the following values: age = 22.4648, gender = .7465, when = 15.3239, retaliation at Time 1 = 2.5775. Two-tailed Alphas t p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  144  Table 23 Analysis of Variance for Reconciliation and Control  (Perspective Taking Only,  Emotions/Thoughts,  Conditions)  Source  df  F Between subjects  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  1 1 1 1 2 66  32.97 .03 .60 .08 1.76 (3.18)  **  Sig.  .33 .00 .01 .00 .05  .00 .87 .44 .78 .18  .02 .00 .01 .02 .02  .32 .77 .41 .21 .49  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * Age * Gender * When * Condition  1 1 1 1 2 66  1.01 .09 .70 1.58 .73 (-59)  Note. Values enclosed in parentheses represent mean square errors. Two-tailed Alphas t P < -10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  145  Table 24 Analysis of Variance for Self Report Physical Symptoms (Perspective taking Only, Perspective Taking with Emotions/Thoughts, Taking, Emotions/Thoughts,  Source  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  and Control  df  1 1 1 1 4 112  Emotions/Thoughts  with Perspective  Conditions)  F Between subjects 50.20 ** .06 7.60 ** .14 .33 (1.84)  Sig.  .31 .00 .06 .00 .01  .00 .81 .01 .71 .86  .08 .01 .04 .00 .04  .00 .37 .03 .88 .38  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * Age * Gender * When * Condition  1 1 1 1 4 112  10.15 ** .83 4.97 * .02 1.07 (.46)  Note. Two-tailed Alphas f p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  146  Table 25 Analysis of Variance for General Life Satisfaction (Perspective taking Only, Perspective Taking with Emotions/Thoughts, Emotions/Thoughts,  Source  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  and Control  Emotions/Thoughts  with Perspective  Taking,  Conditions)  df  1 1 1 1 4 115  F Between subjects 160.52 ** 5.41 * 2.27 1.36 3.27 ** (3.05)  M  2  Sig.  .58 .05 .02 .01 .10  .00 .02 .14 .25 .01  .03 .00 .00 .00 .02  .08 .48 .73 .52 .78  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * Age * Gender * When * Condition  1 1 1 1 4 115  3.03 .49 .12 .41 .43 (.46)  t  Note. Two-tailed Alphas t p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  147  Table 26 Between Subject Effects at the Conclusion of the Writing Intervention for General Life Satisfaction (Perspective taking Only, Perspective Taking with Emotions/Thoughts  with Perspective Taking, Emotions/Thoughts,  Emotions/Thoughts, and Control  Conditions)  Source Intercept Age Gender When General Life Satisfaction at Time 1 Condition Error  df 1  F  n  2  Sig.  26.29 **  .19  .00  1 1 1  .14 .11 .01  .00 .00 .00  .71 .74 .94  1  136.59 **  .55  .00  .05  .20  4 114  1.53 (.75)  Note. Two-tailed Alphas | p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  148  Table 27 Mean Differences Between Conditions at the Conclusion of the Writing General Life  Condition (I) E & T Only  Intervention:  Satisfaction  Estimated Mean 5.19(a)  Std. Error .18  Pt Only  4.89(a)  .18  E&T/Pt  4.67(a)  .18  Pt/E&T  4.76(a)  .18  Control  4.65(a)  .18  Condition (J) P T only E&T/Pt PT/E&T Control E & T Only E&T/Pt PT/E&T Control E&T P T only PT/E&T Control E&T P T only E&T/Pt Control E&T P T only E&T/Pt PT/E&T  Mean Diff. (I-J) .29 .52 .43 .54 -.29 .22 .14 .25 -.52 -.23 -.09 .02 -.43 -.14 .09 .11 -.54 -.25 -.02 -.11  * t  *  *  t  *  Std. Error .25 .26 .25 .26 .25 .26 .25 .25 .26 .26 .25 .27 .25 .25 .25 .26 .25 .25 .27 .26  Note. (a) Covariates appearing in the model are evaluated at the following values: age = 24.8943, gender = .7236, when = 17.1951, life satisfaction at Time 1 = 4.2016. Two-tailed Alphas f p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  149  Sig. .25 .05 .09 .04 .25 .39 .59 .34 .05 .39 .72 .95 .09 .59 .72 .68 .04 .34 .95 .68  Table 28 Analysis of Variance for Retaliation (Perspective taking Only, Perspective Taking with Emotions/Thoughts, and Control  Emotions/Thoughts  with Perspective Taking,  Emotions/Thoughts,  Conditions)  Source  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  df  1 1 1 1 4 113  F Between subjects 48.36 ** .45 .09 .25 .75 • (2.98)  ",  2  Sig.  .30 .00 .00 .00 .03  .00 .50 .77 .62 .56  .06 .02 .01 .01 .04  .01 .11 .21 .29 .40  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * Age * Gender * When * Condition  1 1 1 1 4 113  6.65 2.55 1.61 1.13 1.02 (.43)  **  Note. Two-tailed Alphas f p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  150  Table 29 Analysis of Variance for Reconciliation (Perspective taking Only, Perspective with Emotions/Thoughts, Emotions/Thoughts,  Source  Intercept Age Gender When Condition Error  Emotions/Thoughts  and Control  with Perspective  Taking  Taking,  Conditions)  df  1 1 1 1 4 112  F Between subjects 51.31 *** .74 2.11 .09 1.51 (3.03)  "  2  Sig.  .31 .01 .02 .00 .05  .00 .39 .15 .76 .21  .00 .01 .00 .00 .03  .92 .45 .99 .51 .50  Within subjects  Time Time Time Time Time Error  * Age * Gender * When * Condition  1 1 1 1 4 112  .01 .57 .00 .44 .84 (.74)  Note. Two-tailed Alphas t p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01  151  Table 30 Potential Mechanisms Underlying the Writing Intervention  Representative Quote  Potential Mechanism Mechanisms from Previous  Research  Venting Emotion  "It allowed me to get emotions and feelings out...I feel relieved to have things off my chest."  Sensemaking  "Helps me break the situation apart and think about it better."  Reduction in Inhibition  "This study has helped me to release negative emotions and this has helped me to be more focused on my studies and my goals."  Additional Mechanisms from Current Study  Meaning (SelfAffirmation/ Self-Validation)  "[The writing]...made me express myself; made me discover what I'm really made of."  Self-Efficacy  "It really cleared my head and allowed me to get a grip on a situation that I'd originally felt I had no control over."  Realization of Coping Resources  "I feel that the impact of the negative and irritating experience subsided and I'm no longer trapped by the past....I believe that in the future I may still have a chance to meet someone like them, but I don't need to worry about it anymore. Next time, I will know better how to cope and handle it."  Personal Learning Experience  "In a way, when I was writing about the episode, I felt angry and disappointed as people had taken advantage of me. Today, I don't think about the incident at all and when it even happens, I actually reflect back at my writing sessions and what I learned from them. I believe these sessions were helpful in giving me guidance to move on and leave this episode in the past."  Recognition of Personal Issues  "In the long run, I have been able to work on my personal conflict resolution skills. I have been able to self-reflect on my own negative behavior patterns and work on my own faults and fallacies...This study provided a great amount of closure. It allowed me to address my own personal "elephant in the room" that may have otherwise remained unresolved."  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Gedrag en Gezondheid, 27, 42-47.  172  APPENDICES Appendix A: Ethics Approval  UBC  The University of British Columbia Office of Research Services and Administration  Behavioural Research Ethics Board  Certificate of Approval PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR  DEPARTMENT  Skarlicki, D.  NUMBER  Sauder School of Business  i i i a M i u I rurj[»j wmtKtL m-.$fcARCH WILL BE CARRIED OUT  '••  1  "  B04-0640 """  '  '  1  —  1  —•  ^  UBC Campus, nO.IWWP^TlRiTnRd  —  —  Barclay, Laurie, Psychology SPONSORING AGENCIES  —  111 L C :  •  —  ——  1  1  -  _  ————™  The Effectiveness of Writing Interventions on the Psychological &6 Behavioural Outcomes of Workplace Mistreatment TERM (YEARS)  1 CERTIFICATION:  DOCUMENTS INCLUDED IN THIS APPROVAL:  '  1  Sept. 2004, Advertisement / Questionnaire / Cover letter / Consent form  The protocol describing the above-named project has been reviewed by the Committee and the experimental procedures were found to be acceptable on ethical grounds for research involving human subjects.  Approval of the Behavioural Rikearch Ethics Board by one of the. following;  Dr. JiJes Frankish, Chair, Dr. Cay Bertbrook, Associate Chair, Dr. Susan Rowley, Associate Chair Dr. Anita Hubley, Associate Chair This Certificate of Approval is valid for the above term provided there is no change in the experimental procedures  Appendix B: Ethics Renewal  The University of British Columbia Office of Research Services and Administration  Behavioural Research Ethics Board  Certificate of Approval NUMBER  PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR  DEPARTMENT  Skarlicki, D.  Sauder School of Business  B04-0640  INSTirUTION(S) WHERE RESEARCH WILL BE CARRIED OUT  UBC Campus, CO-INVESTIGATORS  Barclay, Laurie, Psychology SPONSORING AGENCIES  Hampton Research Endowment Fund TITLE:  The Effectiveness of Writing Interventions on the Psychological&<Behavioural Outcomes of Workplace Mistreatment APPROVAL RENEWED DATE  SEP-62005  TERM (YEARS)  1  CERTIFICATION:  The protocol describing the above-named project has been reviewed by the Committee and the experimental procedures were found to be acceptable on ethical grounds for research involving human subjects.  n  f  Approval of the Behavioural Resjtirch EthicfBoard by one of the following:  Dr. Jatnei Frankish, Chair, Dr. Cay H^lm-ook, Associate Chair, Dr. Susan Rowley, Associate Chair  This Certificate of Approval is valid for the above term provided there is no change in the experimental procedures  

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