A trickle-out model of organizational dehumanization and displaced aggression

Constantin Lagios, Simon Restubog, Patrick Raymund James M. Garcia, Yaqing He, Gaëtane Caesens

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6 Citations (SciVal)


In this paper, we integrate displaced aggression theory with organizational dehumanization research to examine the trickle-out effects of organizational dehumanization. Specifically, we argue that supervisors who feel dehumanized by their organization will displace their aggression toward their subordinates by engaging in supervisor undermining behaviors. Undermined subordinates, in turn, will displace their own aggression toward their family members through family undermining behaviors, ultimately impairing the latter's relationship satisfaction and perceptions of emotional support. Furthermore, these mediated relationships are exacerbated when supervisors' fear of retaliation from the organization is high. We tested the research model in two independent studies using multi-source data: (1) a four-wave investigation of 184 full-time employees along with their spouses and supervisors (Study 1) and (2) 175 supervisor-subordinate-family member triads (Study 2). Results of Study 1 suggested that supervisors' perceptions of organizational dehumanization were associated with subordinates' perceptions of supervisor undermining. This, in turn, was associated with spouse-reported undermining behaviors and ultimately spouse-reported relationship satisfaction. In Study 2, we went one step further and showed that supervisors' perceptions of organizational dehumanization were serially related to family outcomes (i.e., relationship satisfaction and perceptions of emotional support) via subordinates' perceptions of supervisor undermining and family members' reports of family undermining. Further, high fear of retaliation strengthened these mediated relationships. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103826
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Early online date7 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


The authors would like to thank Nicolas Lagios for his assistance during the data management process. This research was funded by the "Fonds Spéciaux de la Recherche" of the Université catholique de Louvain. This research was partly undertaken while the first author was a visiting PhD student in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.


  • Decent work
  • Displaced aggression
  • Fear of retaliation
  • Instrumental variable
  • Organizational dehumanization
  • Social undermining
  • Trickle effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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