Abusive supervision: subordinate personality or supervisor behavior?

Jeremy Brees, Mark Martinko, Paul Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether employees’ personalities are associated with their perceptions of abusive supervision. Design/methodology/approach – In total, 756 working adults provided data. Subjects’ began by taking personality assessments and then received a performance evaluation via a video role-play. Subjects then provided their perceptions of how abusive the supervisor was. The data were analyzed with regression analysis. Findings – The results illustrated that respondents’ hostile attribution styles, negative affectivity, trait anger, and entitlement were positively and significantly associated with perceptions of abusive supervision. Research limitations/implications – The results imply that judgments of supervisory abuse and interventions to ameliorate the negative consequences associated with abusive supervision should consider subordinates’ characteristics. Originality/value – This study controlled supervisor behavior via a video vignette to assess how multiple subordinates’ perceive the same supervisor behavior. This study contributes to a more complete understanding of how personality is associated with perceptions of abusive supervision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-419
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 14 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Abusive supervision
  • Affect
  • Anger
  • Attributions
  • Entitlement
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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