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Taking the bad with the good: The buffering effect of positive social exchanges on aggression in care worker–resident relationships [2019]

Objective: The current study investigated the buffering effect of positive social exchanges at work on the way workplace aggression and violence, both verbal and physical, affect individual well-being and commitment to the organization.

Method: We collected survey responses from staff working in long-term care facilities (N = 723) about their experiences with residents and their outlook on their health and commitment to their workplaces.

Results: Using multilevel modeling, we found a significant interaction effect of positive social exchanges with residents on resident-instigated aggression and violence in explaining the levels of employee well-being and commitment. Simple slopes analyses suggested that in staff who experience more positive social exchanges the negative effects of aggression and violence on individual well-being and commitment were dampened compared with staff who experienced less positive social exchanges.

Conclusions: Because mistreatment behaviors operate in a wider context of concurrent social behaviors, examining experiences of aggression and violence without considering positive social exchanges can result in a truncated and misleading body of research findings. Furthermore, based on our findings, we recommend that employers should focus not only on eliminating aggressive and violent incidents at work but also on providing opportunities for care workers to develop high-quality relationships with their residents.

Wong, J. H. K., Kelloway, E. K., Godin, J., McKee, M. C., & McInnis, A.
Psychology of Violence, 9(2), 2019
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