Smart-Phone Addiction May Actually Represent Innate Social Needs

The transformation into the Information Age has fostered the creation of a knowledge-based society that influences the way we live and socially interact. While generally positive, the evolution has created issues as some individuals have become excessively dependent on technology.

For example, it is relatively common to know a person who appears incapable of living without the bright screen of their phone for more than a few minutes as they are constantly texting and checking out what friends are up to on social media.

New research examines this so-called antisocial behavior linked to smartphone addiction. In a provocative new study, researchers from McGill University posit that we may be looking at things the wrong way?

Could smartphone addiction be hyper-social, not anti-social?

Professor Samuel Veissière, a cognitive anthropologist who studies the evolution of cognition and culture, explains that the desire to watch and monitor others, but also to be seen and monitored by others, runs deep in our evolutionary past.

He explains that humans evolved to be a uniquely social species and require constant input from others to seek a guide for culturally appropriate behavior. This is also a way for them to find meaning, goals, and a sense of identity.

In the new study, to be published in Frontiers in Psychology, Veissière and Moriah Stendel, researchers in McGill’s Department of Psychiatry, reviewed current literature on dysfunctional use of smart technology through an evolutionary lens.

Saliently, they found that the most addictive smartphone functions all shared a common theme: they tap into the human desire to connect with other people.

While smartphones harness a normal and healthy need for sociality, Professor Veissière agrees that the pace and scale of hyper-connectivity pushes the brain’s reward system to run on overdrive, which can lead to unhealthy addictions.

Veissière believes addictions are often influenced by evolutionary forces — that our current post-industrial environment is different from settings in which we evolved. He gives the example of how current surplus’ of fat and sugary foods can lead to uncontrollable temptation as we are wired to take advantage of excess food capacity for in the distant past, this excess was often followed by deprivation. Therefore, we are genetically programmed to overindulge when the opportunity arises.

He believes the pro-social needs and rewards [of smartphone use as a means to connect] are similar, with the concerns of societal chaos overblown.

“There is a lot of panic surrounding this topic,” says Veissière. “We’re trying to offer some good news and show that it is our desire for human interaction that is addictive and there are fairly simple solutions to deal with this.”

He does believe some immediate actions may be beneficial to mitigate smart phone addiction such as such as turning off push notifications and setting up appropriate times to check your phone. Research suggests that workplace policies “that prohibit evening and weekend emails” are also important.

“Rather than start regulating the tech companies or the use of these devices, we need to start having a conversation about the appropriate way to use smartphones,” said the professor in a recent interview. Parents and teachers need to be made aware of how important this is.”

Steps to regain control over smartphone addictions :

  • Relax and celebrate the fact your addiction reflects a normal urge to connect with others!
  • Turn off push notifications and set appropriate times to check your phone intentionally.
  • Create “intentional protocols” with friends, family, and work circles to set clear expectations on when to communicate

Source: McGill University

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Depression, Fatigue Up Risk of Women’s Work Injuries

Depression, Fatigue Up Risk of Women’s Work Injuries

New research finds that depression, anxiety, and fatigue cause women to have an increased risk of being injured at work. Investigators found that although men were more likely to be injured at work, mental health factors only affected a women’s chance of work injury, not men.

The study, by researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Health (SPH), Work & Environment appears in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

“The findings of our study demonstrate that keeping workers safe requires more than your typical safety program. It requires an integrated approach that connects health, well-being, and safety,” said Dr. Natalie Schwatka, the study’s lead author. Schwatka is an assistant professor in the Colorado SPH’s Center for Health, Work & Environment and Department of Environmental and Occupational Health.

The authors collaborated with Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation insurer, Pinnacol Assurance, to examine the claims data of 314 businesses from a range of industries. Close to 17,000 employees ranging from executives to laborers were represented in the study.

The researchers found that men were more likely to sustain a work-related injury but behavioral health factors, like poor sleep and anxiety, did not directly affect their risk of injury. Women were more likely to report experiencing mental and behavioral health issues and these conditions increased their risk of getting hurt on the job.

Almost 60 percent of women with a work injury reported experiencing a behavioral health condition before they were injured, compared to 33 percent of men.

Yet Schwatka cautioned that further research is needed to understand why there are differences in women’s and men’s risk of work-related injuries. Overall, workers who had an injury in the past were more likely to be injured again, regardless of their gender.

“There a number of social and cultural factors that may explain why women reported having more behavioral health concerns than men did. Men generally admit to fewer health concerns,” said Schwatka.

“And women may face different stresses at work and at home. It’s something that is worth exploring in future research.”

Source: University of Colorado/EurekAlert

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Materialism May Diminish Marital Satisfaction

Materialism May Diminish Marital Satisfaction

Emerging research provides insight on how an obsession with materialism can doom a marriage. Investigators discovered a focus on expanding material possessions leads to a deemphasizes of other aspects of life, such as the importance of a marriage.

Dr. Jason Carroll, a Brigham Young University professor of marriage and family studies, said, “We know that materialism can lead to poor money management and that leads to debt and strain, but financial factors may not be the only issue at play in these situations.”

Carroll believes that materialism is not an isolated life priority. He believes that as the pursuit of money and possessions are prioritized, the other dimensions of life, such as relationships, are deemphasized.

In the study, found in the Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Carroll and his team surveyed 1,310 married individuals to measure materialism, perception of marriage importance, and marital satisfaction.

Each participant was given statements such as, “Having nice things today is more important to me than saving for the future” and “Having money is very important to me.” They were then asked to rank how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the statements.

The study found that higher levels of materialism are linked to a decreased sense of importance of marriage and less satisfaction in a marriage.

One of the possible causes is that materialism crowds out other life priorities and creates a scarcity of time for other relationship priorities such as communication, conflict resolution, and intimacy.

Carroll and his graduate students, Ashley LeBaron and Heather Kelly, also found that materialism may be associated with a possession-oriented rather than a relationship-oriented approach to happiness.

In short, materialistic spouses may be seeking happiness in possessions, rather than people — which means they end up putting less time and energy into making their marriage a success.

For Caroll, the study is a continuation of his previous research on the topic which showed what kinds of problems materialism causes. The new study shows why they occur.

“Marriage dissatisfaction occurs because those who highly value money and possessions are likely to value their marriage less, and are thus likely to be less satisfied in their relationship,” said LeBaron, the study’s lead author.

Despite the findings, Carroll believes that changes can be made for couples to solve materialism issues.

“Many people are not fully aware of their materialism or the degree to which the pursuit of money is becoming an unbalanced priority in their life,” Carroll said.

“It is helpful for spouses to evaluate and openly discuss the time patterns in their lives and make sure they are devoting enough time to prioritize and strengthen their marriage relationship.”

Source: Brigham Young Univesity

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Control of Screen Time Should Begin by Age 2

Control of Screen Time Should Begin by Age 2

A Canadian study suggests that watching too much television can contribute to poor eating habits in adolescence and suboptimal school performance. While the concept is not new, the study suggests that screen time must be controlled by the early age of two, confirming new recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers at Université de Montréal’s School of Psychoeducation, performed a longitudinal study looking at a birth cohort of nearly 2,000 Quebec boys and girls born between spring 1997 and 1998. The children were followed since they were five months old as part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development.

When they reached two years of age, their parents reported on their daily television habits. Then, at age 13, the youths themselves reported on their dietary habits and behavior in school.

The research appears in the journal Preventive Medicine.

“Not much is known about how excessive screen exposure in early childhood relates to lifestyle choices in adolescence,” explains Professor Linda Pagani. Pagnai supervised the research of graduate student Isabelle Simonato.

“This birth cohort is ideal, because the children were born before smartphones and tablets, and before any pediatric viewing guidelines were publicized for parents to follow. They were raising their children with TV and seeing it as harmless. This makes our study very naturalistic, with no outside guidelines or interference — a huge advantage.”

Simonato added, “Watching TV is mentally and physically sedentary behavior because it does not require sustained effort. We hypothesized that when toddlers watch too much TV it encourages them to be sedentary, and if they learn to prefer effortless leisure activities at a very young age, they likely won’t think much of non-leisure ones, like school, when they’re older.”

In their study, the researchers found that every hourly increase in toddlers’ TV viewing forecasted bad eating habits down the road — an increase of eight percent at age 13 for every hourly increase at age two.

In questionnaires, those early-TV adolescents reported consuming more French fries, prepared meats and cold cuts, white bread, regular and diet soft drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, salty or sweet snacks, and desserts.

Early TV viewing also translated into less eating of breakfast on school days (by 10 percent) and led to more overall screen time at age 13.

Every additional hour of watching TV also predicted a higher body mass index (a 10 percent increase) and less effortful behavior at school in the first year of secondary school, ultimately affecting performance and ambition.

“This study tells us that overindulgent lifestyle habits begin in early childhood and seem to persist throughout the life course,” Pagani noted. “An effortless existence creates health risks. For our society that means a bigger health care burden associated with obesity and lack of cardiovascular fitness.”

The researchers also measured their results against revised screen time guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which reduced the amount of daily viewing from two hours a day to one a day for children between ages two and five.

Compared to children who viewed less than one hour a day at age two, those who viewed between one and four a day later reported (at age 13) having less healthy dietary habits, skipping breakfast on weekdays, having a higher BMI, engaging in more intense screen time, and being less engaged as students.

“Because we had a lot of information on each child and family we were able to eliminate other psychological and socio-demographic factors that could have explained the results, which is a really ideal situation,” said Simonato.

“We even removed any influence of screen time habits at age 13 to really isolate long-term associations with toddler viewing.”

Source: University of Montreal/EurekAlert

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Cannabis May Ease Chronic Pain in Elderly

Cannabis May Ease Chronic Pain in Elderly

A new Israeli study published in The European Journal of Internal Medicine shows that medical cannabis therapy significantly reduces chronic pain in patients age 65 and older without any major adverse effects.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Cannabis Clinical Research Institute at Soroka University Medical Center discovered that cannabis therapy is safe and effective for elderly patients who are seeking relief from symptoms of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other medical issues.

“While older patients represent a large and growing population of medical cannabis users, few studies have addressed how it affects this particular group, which also suffers from dementia, frequent falls, mobility problems, and hearing and visual impairments,” said Professor Victor Novack, M.D., from the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences (FOHS).

“After monitoring patients 65 and older for six months, we found medical cannabis treatment significantly relieves pain and improves quality of life for seniors with minimal side effects reported.”

People age 65 and older represent a growing segment of medical cannabis users, ranging from seven percent to more than 33 percent, depending on the country. Recent U.S. polls suggest that Americans over the age of 65 represent 14 percent of the total population and use more than 30 percent of all prescription drugs, including highly addictive painkillers.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 2,736 patients 65 years and older who had received medical cannabis through “Tikun Olam,” the largest Israeli medical cannabis supplier. More than 60 percent were prescribed medical cannabis to help relieve pain, particularly pain associated with cancer.

The findings show that, after six months of treatment, more than 93 percent of 901 participants reported their pain dropped from a median of eight to four on a 10-point scale. In addition, nearly 60 percent of patients who originally reported “bad” or “very bad” quality of life upgraded to “good” or “very good.” More than 70 percent of patients surveyed reported moderate to significant improvement in their condition.

After six months, more than 18 percent of patients surveyed had stopped using opioid analgesics or had reduced their dosage. The most commonly reported adverse effects of cannabis were dizziness (9.7 percent) and dry mouth (7.1 percent).

More than 33 percent of patients used cannabis-infused oil; approximately 24 percent inhaled therapy by smoking, and approximately six percent used vaporization. All patients in the study were given a prescription after consulting with a doctor who prescribed treatment.

According to the researchers, cannabis may decrease dependence on prescription medicines, including opioids, but they say that more evidence-based data from this special, aging population is needed.

Source: American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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Pediatric Heart Issues May Increase Risk of Early Dementia

Pediatric Heart Issues May Increase Risk of Early Dementia

New research suggests that people born with heart defects may be at higher risk of developing dementia, particularly dementia that starts before 65 years of age. The finding comes from a historical review of a Danish database that extends for more than a hundred years.

The investigation acknowledges that improved care for newborns and enhanced childhood treatments have allowed more people born with heart defects to survive into adulthood. A 2016 study estimated that approximately 1.4 million adults are living with congenital heart defects in the United States.

“Previous studies showed that people born with heart defects have a higher risk of neurodevelopmental problems in childhood, such as epilepsy and autism, but this is, to our knowledge, the first study to examine the potential for dementia later in adult life,” said Carina N. Bagge, B.Sc., lead author of the study.

Using national medical databases and records covering all Danish hospitals, the researchers examined the occurrence of dementia in 10,632 mostly Caucasian adults (46 percent male) born with heart defects between 1890 and 1982 (most between 1960 and 1982).

Investigators then matched the incidence of dementia to the general population of the same gender born the same year. Study results are published in American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

Researchers found the risk of dementia from any cause, including vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and others, in people born with heart defects in Denmark was:

  • 60 percent higher overall than the general population;
  • 160 percent (2.6 times) higher for early-onset dementia (diagnosed before age 65);
  • 30 percent higher for dementia diagnosed after age 65.

The study was observational, which means that the researchers were examining individuals with heart defects over time to see if there was an association between being born with a heart defect and developing dementia later in life.

While they did find an association, the study does not mean that every person who was born with a heart defect will develop dementia. The study observed a higher risk, but did not prove cause and effect.

Heart defects are the most common group of birth defects, occurring in four to 10 of every 1,000 live births in the United States and eight to 10 out of every 1,000 live births in Denmark.

“Our study involved an older population born when treatments for heart defects were more limited. Modern treatment has improved greatly, and as a result we can’t directly generalize these results to children born today. We need further work to understand the risks in the modern era,” Bagge said.

Dementia or cognitive impairment is often progressive, and can be caused by many factors, including reduced blood flow to the brain, strokes, and Alzheimer’s disease. People with dementia may have problems with memory, reasoning, behavior, and other mental functions.

In this study, the risk of dementia was higher in people born with heart defects who developed other heart disease risk factors later in life, such as atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and diabetes.

These risk factors are more common in people born with heart defects than in the general population, and they have also been shown to independently raise the risk of dementia.

“While we must be careful to appreciate these findings within the limitations of the study design, continued study of this association may yield important clinical screening and medical management strategies in the future, and there may even be opportunities discovered to aid in the prevention of dementia in this population,” said Nicolas L. Madsen, M.D., M.P.H., senior author of the study.

Source: American Heart Association

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Including Family in Caregiving Can Aid Healing, Reduce Readmissions

Including Family in Caregiving Can Aid Healing, Reduce Readmissions

A new initiative led by Intermountain Healthcare allows family members of hospitalized patients to participate in their care, resulting in better healing and reduced readmission rates.

Researchers explain that Intermountain’s Partners in Healing program provides opportunities for family members to help with basic care for their loved ones while they are in the hospital. The engagement with the hospital care plan helps family members prepare for taking over care responsibilities when the loved one goes home.

The program also allows the patient and family member more control over when they perform the care activities rather than following a schedule when the nurse or patient care tech are available. And it improves communication between the family and the staff, said Michelle Van De Graaff, R.N., of Intermountain Medical Center, who created and piloted the program as part of the study.

“The vast majority of families like to have something to do and they like to participate in patient care. They’re often the most motivated member of the care team,” said Van De Graaff.

“We’ve found that families not only want to promote healing, but patients benefit from someone who knows their preferences, and the result is, the rate of readmissions is reduced after patients are discharged from the hospital.”

Partners in Healing is the first program in the field that shows drafting families as clinical care partners during hospitalization may reduce readmissions. In the study, researchers compared adult heart surgery patients at Intermountain Medical Center whose families participated in the program with those whose relatives did not.

For the study, which appears in the medical journal CHEST, researchers looked at 30-day all-cause readmissions, 30-day all-cause mortality, length of stay, and the number of emergency room visits. Many family members who participated also completed a feedback survey.

The 30-day readmission rate was 65 percent lower for patients whose families participated in Partners in Healing, based on 200 matched pairs of patients. Researchers controlled the results for age, gender, and illness severity. There was no significant difference for the other outcomes.

Participant feedback showed that 92 percent of the patients said the program enhanced the transition from hospital care to home care and 94 percent said they’d highly recommend the program to other families.

Four themes were identified in a feedback survey:

  • Family members praised the Partners in Healing program and expressed gratitude for being involved with it;
  • Family members acquired relevant caregiving skills;
  • Family members reported feeling empowered, integrated into the care team, and confident. They said those feelings reduced their anxiety, increased their confidence in caregiving tasks at home, and aided in the patient’s healing process;
  • Family members thought the program should be available to all families and during all phases of hospitalization, including in intensive care units.

Intermountain Medical Center piloted the nine-year program in seven acute-care units, Van De Graaff said. The Mayo Clinic learned about the program and also tested it last year.

The program will now expand to the other 21 Intermountain Healthcare hospitals and will eventually be available on all Intermountain nursing units.

“Offering the Partners in Healing program to the patients and families in all of our Intermountain hospitals is a commitment to providing the best care possible to our patients by involving their loved ones in the healing process,” said Tammy Richards, assistant vice president of Patient and Clinical Engagement at Intermountain Healthcare.

The program works like this: During a patient’s initial encounter in the hospital, the bedside nurse introduces the program and families are asked if they want to participate.

Those who are interested are taught several basic skills that are appropriate for that patient, then given a badge that indicates to staff that they’re part of the care team and have access to drinks, snacks, ice, and blankets for their family member.

A checklist is taped to the patient’s door and program participants write what they do, such as helping with breathing exercises, assisting with activity, giving help to the bathroom, measuring urine output, recording how much a patient eats and drinks, etc. The nurse then transfers the data into the computer record.

“These are simple tasks, but they give families a sense of control and knowledge about what they can and can’t do,” says Van De Graaff. “By inviting them onto the health care team, we’re also preparing them to take over care when a patient goes home.”


Source: Intermountain Medical Center/EurekAlert

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Review ‘Bucket List’ with Doctor to Help Focus Care

Review ‘Bucket List’ with Doctor to Help Focus Care

A new study finds that sharing your “bucket list” with your physician is a healthy way to plan future medical care.

A bucket list is a list of things you’d like to do before you die, like visiting Paris or running a marathon. It’s a chance to think about the future and put lifelong dreams or long-term goals down on a piece of paper.

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine discovered that when physicians visited with an individual about their bucket list, or whether they have one, the tactic enhanced discussion and ensures that the medical care an individual receives fits their life plans.

For doctors, knowing their patients’ bucket lists is a great way to provide personalized care and get them to adopt healthy behaviors, said VJ Periyakoil, M.D., clinical associate professor of medicine, who said that she routinely asks her patients if they have a bucket list.

“Telling a patient not to eat sugar because it’s bad for them doesn’t work nearly as well as saying, for example, if you are careful now, you will be able to splurge on a slice of wedding cake in a few months when your son gets married,” Periyakoil said.

The study appears in the Journal of Palliative Medicine. Periyakoil, an expert in geriatrics and palliative care, is lead author.

The researchers, who surveyed 3,056 participants across the United States, found that by far the majority of respondents — 91 percent — had made a bucket list. Survey results also showed that respondents who reported that faith and spirituality were important to them were more likely to have made a bucket list.

The older the respondents were, the more likely they were to have a bucket list, and, not surprisingly, those younger than 26 tended to include more “crazy things” on their lists, such as skydiving. In the study, six general themes tended to describe the items on respondents’ bucket lists:

  • 79 percent included travel;
  • 78 percent included accomplishing a personal goal, such as running a marathon;
  • 51 percent included achieving a life milestone, such as a 50th wedding anniversary;
  • 16.7 percent included spending quality time with friends and family;
  • 24 percent included achieving financial stability;
  • and, 15 percent included a daring activity.

“When you just Google the term ‘bucket list,’ it’s huge how much interest there is in this,” Periyakoil said. “It provides a very nice framework for thinking about your life goals, health, and your mortality.”

Past research has found that when doctors talk to patients — especially those with chronic or terminal illnesses — about the patients’ goals for future care, it can be a vital part of the advance-care planning process.

But it’s often awkward to have these conversations, particularly when they are about the end of life, the study said.

“If a patient wants to attend a beloved grandchild’s wedding or travel to a favored destination, treatments that could potentially prevent her from doing so should not be instituted without ensuring her understanding of the life impact of such treatments,” the study said.

Discussing a patient’s bucket list is just a good way to start these conversations, Periyakoil said.

Most people are far more open to talking about their life’s goals in this context before filling out an advance directive, a written statement of a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment at the end of life, Periyakoil said.

“It’s important for physicians to talk to patients and find out what actually motivates them,” she said. She encourages both doctors and patients to bring up the topic of a bucket list.

By discussing how a treatment or surgery might affect the patient’s life, and then discussing what the patient’s goals are, the best possible care plan can be laid out, she said.

“I had a patient with gall bladder cancer,” Periyakoil said. “He was really stressed because he wanted to take his family to Hawaii but had treatment scheduled. He didn’t know he could postpone his treatment by two weeks. When doctors make recommendations, patients often take it as gospel.”

After an informed discussion about his options and the side effects of the cancer treatments, he and his physician decided to postpone the treatment. He made the trip to Hawaii with his family, then returned to start cancer treatments, the study said.

“Patients don’t see the relevance of an advance directive,” said Periyakoil. “They do see the relevance of a bucket list as a way to help them plan ahead for what matters most in their lives.”

Source: Stanford University

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Pets Can Help People Manage Mental Health

Pets Can Help People Manage Mental Health

A new study from the U.K. is one of the first to review evidence on how a companion animal or pet can help a person manage their mental health.

The study, led by Dr. Helen Brooks from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, aimed to explore the extent, nature and quality of the evidence implicating the role and utility of pet ownership for people living with a mental health condition.

The research appears in BMC Psychiatry.

The study team systematically reviewed 17 international research papers, to identify the positive, negative, and neutral impacts of pet ownership.

The research highlighted the “intensiveness” of connectivity people with companion animals reported, and the multi-faceted ways in which pets contributed to the work associated with managing a mental health condition, particularly in times of crisis.

The negative aspects of pet ownership were also highlighted, including the practical and emotional burden of pet ownership and the psychological impact that losing a pet may cause.

“Our review suggests that pets provide benefits to those with mental health conditions. Further research is required to test the nature and extent of this relationship, incorporating outcomes that cover the range of roles and types of support pets confer in relation to mental health and the means by which these can be incorporated into the mainstay of support for people experiencing a mental health problem,” Brooks said.

Source: University of Liverpool/EurekAlert

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Abusive Supervision Impacts Employees’ Well-Being and Work Performance

Abusive Supervision Impacts Employees’ Well-Being and Work Performance

Abusive supervision in the workplace has a damaging impact on not only the employees, but also the business, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas-Dallas found that abusive supervision affects more than 13 percent of U.S. workers. Costs incurred by corporations because of absenteeism, health care costs, and lost productivity has been estimated at $23.8 billion annually.

Abusive supervision refers to subordinates’ perceptions of supervisors engaging in sustained hostile verbal and nonverbal behaviors, excluding physical contact. It can affect employees’ well-being, health, and work performance, researchers note.

“Abusive supervision in the workplace is quite a prevalent phenomenon, and employees should not have to suffer from this,” said Dr. Junfeng Wu, assistant professor of Organizations, Strategy, and International Management. “Our study shows that there are certain costs associated with abusive supervisors and even the leaders who engage in abusive supervision do not benefit from it. We want to convey this important message to organization leaders in order to have them stop these kinds of behaviors.”

The study, published in the Journal of Business Ethics, used a statistical technique called meta-analysis. It combines the results of findings from 79 previous studies to get a systematic understanding of the relationship between abusive supervision and subordinates’ retaliatory responses.

The researchers found that even though the immediate source of injustice is the supervisor, abused employees perceive injustice from both their supervisor and organization, so extend their retaliation to both.

“It will cause problems for the managers who engage in abusive supervision and, overall, it will threaten the well-being of the organization because the employees will engage in organizational deviance, such as arriving to work late or having low productivity,” Wu said.

The researchers also found that those who experience abusive supervision tend to emulate such abusive behaviors and even bully their co-workers.

“Employees see their leader as a role model in the workplace and they tend to follow suit,” Wu said. “This is a social learning effect.”

The researchers also explored whether the impact of abusive supervision on employees’ perceptions of justice and deviant behavior differ based on cultural values.

They explain that power distance is a national cultural value that captures the extent to which people tolerate power differences in interpersonal relationships.

In countries with lower power distance, such as the U.S. and much of Europe, people tend to feel that power should be equally distributed. Retaliation to both the supervisor and to the organization is stronger in lower power distance countries.

In countries with higher power distance, such as China and Japan, people tend to have more tolerance for the inequalities of power distributions.

“That does not mean that leaders can engage in abusive supervision,” Wu said. “Employees still feel it is unjust and they engage in deviance behavior as well. It’s just not as strong.”

Wu said the cross-cultural aspects of this study have implications for international companies.

For example, if a manager from a higher power distance country is assigned to work in a lower power distance country, he should be aware that employees will not tolerate abusive supervision behaviors due to their lower power distance orientation values.

The study recommends that organizations use leadership development programs, coach supervisors, and pay more attention to employee feedback. Wu said these may help reduce the occurrence of abusive supervision in the workplace.

Source: University of Texas Dallas

Photo: Dr. Junfeng Wu is an assistant professor of Organizations, Strategy and International Management in the Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas. Credit: UT Dallas.

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