Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy




Finegan, Joan E.


The field of workplace mistreatment has grown considerably over the last two decades yet continues to be plagued by construct overload and measurement challenges. Constructs such as incivility, bullying, abusive supervision, and social undermining are definitionally distinct in terms of their frequency, intensity, and intentionality but this is seldom explicitly measured. Across three studies, we created and developed the Features of Mistreatment (FOM) measure to explicitly measure frequency, intensity, and perceived intentionality. In Study 1 (N = 282), we examined the psychometric properties of the initial 28-item FOM measure and revised the subscales to four items each. We found that a three-factor ESEM yielded good model fit and factor loadings. In Study 2, using both two-wave (N = 89) and cross-sectional analyses (N = 257), we assessed a SEM mediation model of workplace mistreatment in which we used frequency, intensity, and intentionality of mistreatment to predict work-related outcomes via negative affective reactions. We found that the relationships between workplace mistreatment and affective commitment and turnover intentions (but not retaliation) were mediated by negative affective reactions. Finally, in Study 3, we conducted a Latent Profile Analysis (LPA) and found support for four distinct profiles of workplace mistreatment. The largest profile included the Low Mistreatment group (43.10%). The other profiles included Intense Mistreatment (8.70%), Moderate Mistreatment (19.10%), and High Perceived Intent (29.10%). Members in the Low Mistreatment profile had the best work outcomes overall, reporting the highest scores on affective commitment and lowest scores on turnover intentions and retaliation. Thus, directly measuring the features of workplace mistreatment allowed us to empirically distinguish how mistreatment strength, frequency, and perceived intentionality combine across different profiles of mistreatment and assess each profile’s distinct relationships with important work outcomes.

Summary for Lay Audience

Most adults spend a substantial amount of time at work, and often a considerable amount of this time is spent interacting with colleagues. When we are mistreated by our colleagues, it can have a significant impact on our work and nonwork lives. The type of mistreatment one experiences can vary depending on how frequent, intense, and intentional it is, and it has been theorized that different mistreatment experiences relate differently to important work outcomes. Specifically, workplace mistreatment that is more frequent, intense, and intentional is likely to be more harmful than workplace mistreatment that is less frequent, intense, and intentional. However, widely-used workplace mistreatment measures do not explicitly measure frequency, intensity, and intentionality, and contain very similar items across measures. Because of this, widely-used measures of incivility, bullying, abusive supervision, etc. yield similar relationships to work outcomes even though this goes against logic and theory.

This research involved the development of a new measure of workplace mistreatment using a feature-based approach. We developed measures for three key features of mistreatment: frequency, intensity, and perceived intentionality. This approach allowed us to make a novel contribution to the workplace mistreatment literature by examining how these key features relate to important work outcomes, and how they combine to create different experiences of workplace mistreatment. As expected, we found that as reports of frequency, intensity, and intentionally decreased, reports of affective commitment increased, and turnover intentions decreased.