Workplace hostility: defining and measuring the occurrence of hostility in the workforce



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Objectives: The purpose of this study was to define a comprehensive construct, workplace hostility, encompassing sub-areas of harmful workplace behaviors. Key characteristics include: perception of the target, persistence, intentionality, nonphysical nature, and organizational affiliation. Participants: Pilot study participants (N=42, students and N=35, workers) were small convenience samples. Main study participants (N=393, 70% female) were working individuals and almost 50% reported 1 to 5 years in their current jobs. Methods: The two pilot studies collected surveys face-to-face. The main study used online surveys. Results: Based on the pilot studies, items from the Workplace Hostility Inventory (WHI) were judged as a reasonable set. Results from the main study suggested three subscales related to perceptions of being subjected to hostility: interference with work, denigration, and exclusion. Supervisors produced greater distress on all factors, but only exclusion predicted a desire to leave the organization. Distress was greater when the perpetrator was a woman or a group. After controlling for feelings toward coworkers and supervisors, WHI was not related to job satisfaction. Conclusions: The WHI was found to be an inclusive construct, representing numerous concepts. The WHI is comprehensive and global, encompassing the previous overlap in existing research.



Abuse, Job satisfaction, Job violence, Toxic behavior