The role of irritability in the relation between job stressors, emotional reactivity, and counterproductive work behaviour

Roberta Fida, Marinella Paciello, Claudio Barbaranelli, Carlo Tramontano, Reid Griffith Fontaine

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26 Citations (Scopus)
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Researchers have stressed the importance of assessing individual differences in personality as an approach to understanding aggressive and deviant conduct across different contexts. This study investigated the moderation role of irritability, a specific aggression-related disposition, in the process of work stressors that are conducive to counterproductive work behaviour (CWB) within the stressor–emotion model. From a total sample of 1147 Italian workers (53.5% women), high- and low-irritability groups were identified. Then, using a multigroup structural equations model, we simultaneously examined all the relations in both high- and low-irritability groups, and
investigated whether these relations were different between them. Results showed that job stressors elicited negative emotions that, in turn, lead to CWB. Moreover, some job stressors influenced CWB directly only in the high-irritability group. Overall, irritability moderated the relation among job stressors and CWB but not the relation among job stressors and negative emotions, with the sole exception of role conflict. As well, irritability did not moderate the
relation between emotion and CWB. Thus, high-irritability employees may be more prone to react aggressively to job stressors via multiple functioning paths. The principal differences between low- and high-irritability individuals could be how they manage the impact of perceived stressors on emotions and behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-47
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date29 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Aggression
  • Counterproductive work behaviour
  • Irritability
  • Personality
  • Stressor–emotion model

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