טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentEfrat-Treister Dorit
SubjectOther People's Emotion and Individual Performance in
Creative and Analytic Tasks:
The Bright and Dark Sides of Anger
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisor Professor Anat Rafaeli
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

The effect of negative emotions on performance is not clear-cut. On the one hand, anger was found to increase job stress, reduce focus and satisfaction, and hinder performance and productivity. On the other hand, expressed anger was found to enhance arousal, improve problem resolution, increase mutual understanding and as a result improve performance. The analysis contributes to emergent research regarding emotions as interpersonal entities and responds to the theoretical call to examine and understand the dynamics of specific emotions, rather than positive or negative affect in general.

Recently scholars have acknowledged the positive in addition to negative effects of anger on performance. Still, only little is known about the circumstances that enable either to occur. Moreover, previous empirical research has focused mainly on individuals expressing anger. However, other organizational members who observe such an interaction may be affected as well.

The current study aims at examining the effect of exposure to another persons’ emotion on the observer’s performance in creative and systematic tasks. We suggest that observing others’ expressed anger affects the level of negative emotion experienced by the observer, which in turn affects performance. The effect of the felt emotion on performance is dependent on the task type. Negative emotion increases the arousal that leads to higher performance levels in routine and systematic tasks but to lower performance levels in creative tasks that require “thinking out of the box”.

Ninety-nine undergraduate students listened to a recording of a customer service call in which the customer was either angry or neutral and were asked to solve problems that require creative or systematic thinking. We found that participants who listened to the angry customer reported higher levels of felt negative emotion compared to those who listened to the neutral customer. Negative emotion negatively affected performance in creative tasks and positively affected performance in systematic tasks.

The results have interesting implications for emerging theory and research on the social influence of emotion on performance in different tasks in organizations.