Emotional Crossover in the Workplace
When Can Crossover Occur?Crossover can occur during positive and negative work events. For example, during positive work events (e.g., exciting new project) an employee’s heightened work engagement can crossover to coworkers. On the other hand, during negative work events (e.g. unrewarding, tedious project) an employee’s burnout can crossover. Also, stress and anxiety have been shown to crossover within colleagues of the same work environment.
Crossover and Affect IntensityCrossover is partially controlled by the degree an individual experiences emotion, also known as affect intensity. More specifically, Affect Intensity (AI) is described as the varying intensity in which individuals experience emotions in reaction to workplace events and people such as upcoming deadlines or supervisors. Individuals with high AI tend to focus more on the negative or positive side of things; therefore, they report stronger emotional reactions than those with low AI.” Because of their higher emotional reactivity, high AI individuals may be more susceptible to crossover, especially from one individual with high AI to another with high AI. Thus, understanding AI within each individual may lead to better management of crossover within the work environment.
Implications for PracticeApplying the knowledge of crossover, one should strive to reduce the number of negative work events and encourage a more positive work environment where positive crossover can occur. Specifically, one should implement practices that encourage:”
- Increases in positive emotion and action, which lead to positive resources including creativity and problem solving.
- An “undoing effect,” where those encountering negative emotions (e.g., anger or fear) overcome negative physical reactions more rapidly.
- An “upward spiral,” where individuals are more resilient and thus better able to overcome negative outcomes while seeking out positive ones – through crossover “upward spirals” occur at the individual, group, and team level.
The DeGarmo GroupThis was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Hartel, C. & Page, K.M. (2009). Discrete emotional crossover in the workplace: The role of affect intensity. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24 (3), 237-253.