Exploring the moderating effect of emotional intelligence on the relationship between narcissism and workplace aggression

Van der Nest, Lambertus Johannes (2010-12)

Thesis (MComm (Industrial Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aims of this study were to explore the relationships between narcissism, workplace aggression (WA) and emotional intelligence (EI), as well as to determine whether EI plays a moderating role in the relationship between narcissism and WA. A non-experimental research design (i.e. exploratory survey study) was used to explore the relationships between the three constructs. Narcissists are described as individuals who have a grandiose sense of self-importance or uniqueness, where they exaggerate their special talents and achievements. They are typically prone to rage, shame, inferiority, and humiliation when they are criticized by others (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). WA was defined as the efforts by individuals to harm others with whom they work, or have worked, or the organisations in which they are currently or were previously, employed (Neuman & Baron, 1997a). EI was defined as the capacity to effectively perceive, express, understand and manage emotions in a professional and effective manner at work (Palmer & Stough, 2001). A convenience sample of 134 academic (permanent and temporary) and support staff (middle and upper level) of two tertiary educational institutions within the Western Cape participated in the research. The Greenberg and Barling (1999) WA scale (that measures aggression towards colleagues, subordinates and supervisors), the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI, Raskin & Hall, 1979) and the Genos Emotional Intelligence Inventory (Gignac, 2008) were administered. Weak significant negative relationships were evident between EI and each of the dimensions of WA. This indicates that higher EI is associated with a decreased propensity to engage in verbal aggressive behaviours. EI may enable individuals to apply better coping mechanisms and display more appropriate emotional reactions to events which may induce aggressive behavior. It was, furthermore, hypothesized that a significant negative relationship exists between EI and narcissism. Contrary to the expectation, a significant weak positive relationship emerged between the NPI and EI. It was also found that significant positive relationships emerged between six of the seven dimensions of EI and narcissism. The findings may indicate that individuals with a fragile high self-esteem (overt narcissists) may also be 'emotionally intelligent'. Individuals with high levels of narcissism may use emotional regulation strategies to manage their own and other's emotions in order to maintain their fragile self esteem. No significant relationship emerged between the NPI (total score) and any of the aggression subscales. This result may be due to methodological limitations (e.g. restriction of range) or the absence of an ego-threat eliciting cue in the questionnaire, which may have attenuated the results. However, two significant positive relationships emerged between the NPI dimensions of Entitlement and Exploitiveness with the Verbal Aggression towards a colleague subscale. Due to the fact that no significant relationship between narcissism (total score) and WA emerged in this study, the proposed hypo that EI moderates the relationship between narcissism and WA, could not be investigated. The limitations of the study and recommendations for future research were discussed.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doelwitte van hierdie studie was om die verband tussen narsisme, werksplekaggressie (WA) en emosionele intelligensie (EI) te ondersoek, asook om te bepaal of EI 'n modererende rol speel in die verband tussen narsisme en WA. 'n Nie-eksperimentele navorsingsontwerp (dit is, 'n verkennende studie) is gebruik om die verbande tussen die drie konstrukte te ondersoek. Narsiste word beskryf as individue wat .n grootse gevoel van eiebelang of uniekheid het. Hulle oordryf hulle spesiale talente en prestasies. Wanneer ander hulle kritiseer, sal hulle gewoonlik geneig wees om woedend te word en skaam, minderwaardig of verneder te voel (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). WA word gedefinieer as die pogings van individue om die mense saam met wie hulle werk, of gewerk het, of die organisasie waar hulle tans werk, of voorheen gewerk het, skade aan te doen (Neuman & Baron, 1997a). EI word gedefinieer as die vermoe om emosies op 'n professionele en doeltreffende manier in die werkplek waar te neem, uit te druk, te verstaan en te beheer (Palmer & Stough, 2001). 'n Geriefsteekproef van 134 (permanente en tydelike) akademiese personeel en (middel- en bovlak-) steundienstepersoneel van twee tersiere opvoedkundige instellings in die Wes-Kaap het aan die navorsingsprojek deelgeneem. Greenberg en Barling (1999) se WA-skaal (wat aggressie teenoor kollegas, ondergeskiktes en toesighouers meet), die Narsistiesepersoonlikheid-inventaris (NPI, Raskin & Hall, 1979) en die Genos Emosionele-intelligensie-inventaris (Gignac, 2008) is gebruik. Beduidende swak negatiewe verwantskappe tussen EI en elk van die dimensies van WA is gevind. Dit dui daarop dat 'n hoer EI geassosieer word met 'n afname in die neiging om in verbale aggressiewe gedrag betrokke te raak. EI kan individue in staat stel om beter hanteringsmeganismes te gebruik en meer gepaste emosionele reaksies te toon op gebeure wat tot aggressiewe gedrag kan lei. Daar is in die studie aangevoer dat 'n betekenisvolle negatiewe verband tussen EI en narsisme bestaan. Teen alle verwagting is'n betekenisvolle swak positiewe verband tussen die NPI en EI na vore gekom. Daar is ook bevind dat daar betekenisvolle positiewe verbande tussen ses van die sewe dimensies van EI en narsisme bestaan het. Die bevindings kan daarop dui dat individue met 'n brose hoe selfbeeld (openlik narsistiese individue) ook 'emosioneel intelligent' kan wees. Individue met 'n hoe mate van narsisme kan emosionele beheerstrategiee gebruik om hulle eie en ander se emosies te beheer om so hulle brose selfbeeld te handhaaf. Geen betekenisvolle verband tussen die NPI (totaal telling) en enige van die aggressie-subskale het na vore gekom nie. Hierdie bevinding kan dalk toegeskryf word aan metodologiese beperkings (soos beperkte omvang) of die afwesigheid van 'n stelling in die vraelys wat bedreiging vir die ego ingehou en die uitkoms kon verswak het. Twee betekenisvolle positiewe verbande is egter gevind tussen die NPI-dimensies Aanspraak en Uitbuiting en die subskaal Verbale Aggressie teenoor 'n kollega. Weens die feit dat geen noemenswaardige verhouding tussen narsisme (totale punt) en WA in hierdie studie gevind is nie, kon die voorgestelde hipotese dat EI die verband tussen narsisme en WA modereer nie ondersoek word nie. Die beperkings van die studie en aanbevelings vir toekomstige navorsing word bespreek.

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