Reciprocal Effects of Work Stressors and Counterproductive Work Behavior: A Five-Wave Longitudinal Study

Document Type


Publication Date



counterproductive work behavior, incivility, longitudinal study, reciprocal effects, work stressors

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Previous research has clearly shown that work stressors are positively related to counterproductive work behavior (CWB). Most of these studies, however, used cross-sectional designs, which limits insight into the direction of effects. Nevertheless, it has been assumed that work stressors have a causal effect on CWB, but the role of CWB as an antecedent of work stressors has been neglected. The present study examined lagged reciprocal relationships between work stressors and CWB. We assumed that work stressors (organizational constraints and experienced incivility) are prospectively and positively related to CWB (interpersonal and organizational CWB) and that conversely CWB is prospectively and positively related to work stressors. We tested our hypotheses with a longitudinal study of 663 individuals who were assessed 5 times over an 8-month period. The results supported the possibility of a reciprocal relationship. Organizational constraints (but not experienced incivility) predicted subsequent CWB, and CWB predicted subsequent organizational constraints and experienced incivility. Because reciprocal effects point to a vicious cycle with detrimental effects of CWB to both actors and targets, the findings are not only of theoretical but also of practical importance.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Applied Psychology, v. 98, issue 3, p. 529-539