|M.Sc Thesis||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management|
|Supervisor:||Prof. Rafaeli Anat|
|Full Thesis text|
Envy, the unpleasant emotion that can arise when we compare unfavorably with others, is considered to be the most destructive of all negative emotions (Klein, 1957). This study attempts to explore the causes and consequences of envy in work settings. Specifically, the study examines how losing a competition predicts envy, whether envy explains the relationship between losing a competition and harming behavior aimed towards a colleague, and how self esteem influences these dynamics.
112 undergraduate students teamed into pairs participated in a laboratory study. In one condition, feelings of envy were manipulated by a between subject competition (held within each pair) in a psychometric task. After being informed on the outcome of the competition (either winning or losing), an envy measure was taken and participants were given the opportunity to express harming behavior towards their partner. In the other condition the procedure was the same, except that there was no competition and therefore no knowledge of the results.
Findings implicate a positive relationship between losing a competition to envy and harming behaviors: The losers reported higher levels of envy towards the winners, and engaged in harming behaviors towards them. More over, envy explained the relationship between losing a competition and harming behaviors. Self esteem was negatively related to the emergence of envy, and affected the relationship between envy and one type of harming behavior: A significant moderated mediation model shows that self esteem exacerbates the positive relationship between envy and some types of harming behavior.
The results have interesting implications for emerging theory on work related envy, and suggest that organizations should be aware of the dark sides of work place competition.