Theses Doctoral

Employee Perceptions of Managers Who Express Anger: Could a High Quality Relationship Buffer Women from Backlash?

Gupta, Avina

The purpose of the current study was to examine if a high-quality manager-employee relationship could buffer female leaders from the negative perceptions and retaliatory actions they tend to receive for expressing anger. Research has shown that female leaders who express anger at work violate the stereotype that women should be warm and communal and are therefore punished, whereas male leaders who express anger reinforce the stereotype that men should be strong and leader-like and are thus rewarded for expressing anger. Female leaders who have a high-quality relationship with their employees may have fulfilled the implicit gender role expectation that they are warm and communal, which may buffer them from being penalized for expressing anger. As male leaders are not punished for expressing anger, it was proposed that quality of relationship was unlikely to have the same buffering effect, as there is no backlash to buffer against. While results showed that female leaders who express anger received more negative ratings than male leaders who express anger, contrary to expectations, quality of relationship behaved as a `buffer' for both male and female managers. In addition, participant gender was shown to have an important effect on perceptions of managerial anger expression. Ratings by male participants revealed that while quality of relationship buffered both male and female managers who expressed anger, it `boosted' ratings of male managers whom male participants rated more favorably in terms of competence and backlash, than female managers. Ratings of female participants showed that quality of relationship only served as a buffer for female managers (and not male managers) on ratings of competence, as hypothesized. However, for female participants, quality of relationship did not buffer against backlash for either male or female managers. In addition, female participants were more likely to demonstrate backlash toward female managers than male managers, regardless of quality of relationship. Implications for research and practice are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social-Organizational Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Block, Caryn J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 30, 2013