عدالت شاعرانه یا حسادت حقیر؟ زیبایی شناسی انتقام
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 89, Issue 1, September 2002, Pages 966–984
The growing body of research on workplace revenge has focused on morality-based principles (e.g., organizational justice) that people use to judge acts of revenge. By contrast, in the present research, we report findings from two studies that focus on aesthetics-based principles (e.g., the “beauty” of executing the act of revenge) that people use to judge acts of revenge. In Study 1, a qualitative analysis of revenge incidents, we identify altruism, poetic qualities, and symmetry as aesthetic principles that people use to judge acts of revenge. In Study 2, a quantitative analysis of a policy-capturing experiment, we focused on the symmetry principle. Specifically, we examined the influence of the symmetry of method and symmetry of consequences in revenge. In that study, we found that workplace revenge is judged less harshly when consequences are symmetric than when they are asymmetric. However, symmetry has the opposite effect on judgments when it comes to symmetry of methods: similar methods were judged more harshly than dissimilar methods. We discuss the influence of aesthetic principles on judgments about revenge, and whether such principles legitimate or delegitimate an act of revenge.
There is no denying the aesthetic satisfaction, the sense of poetic justice, that pleasures us when evil-doers get the comeuppance they deserve....The satisfaction is heightened when it becomes possible to measure out punishment in exact proportion to the size and shape of the wrong that has been done. – Arthur Lelyveld, Punishment: For and Against (1971) The human tendency to seek revenge against harmdoers has been well documented in the conflict literature (e.g., Pruitt & Rubin, 1986) and the aggression literature (e.g., Berkowitz, 1993). More recently, revenge and retaliation have begun to emerge as an important topics in management research (e.g., Allred, 1999; Bies & Tripp, 1996; Skarlicki & Folger, 1997). This scholarly interest is not surprising, for the evidence suggests that revenge is an everyday occurrence in the workplace (Black, 1990; Wall & Callister, 1995). While revenge is part of the social fabric of organizational life (Morrill, 1995), the mere mention of the word “revenge” is frightening to most people. For most people, revenge is synonymous with violence, as in angry U.S. postal service employees gunning down their former coworkers (Swisher, 1994). Indeed, revenge is usually viewed as an emotional and irrational act that should not be tolerated in a civilized society (Barreca, 1995; Jacoby, 1983; Solomon, 1990). This view of revenge, as something ugly, underlies much of the management research on the topic. For example, revenge is conceptualized as a destructive and anti-social act by researchers, as in the case of research on employee theft ( Greenberg, 1990a) and workplace aggression ( O'Leary-Kelly, Griffin, & Glew, 1996). Indeed, the prevailing view of revenge is as a form of organizational deviance ( Robinson & Bennett, 1995), an aggressive behavior that must be controlled or prevented ( Neuman & Baron, 1997). But revenge has many faces, and not just ugly ones. For the reality is that revenge can also be good—that is, constructive and pro-socially motivated ( Bies & Tripp, 1998). For example, revenge can act as a deterrent against power abuse by organizational authority figures and decision-makers. Tripp and Bies (1997) studied what features make an act of revenge morally good or bad. In a qualitative study of workers, their data revealed several principles that people use to judge acts of revenge. For example, Tripp and Bies found that avengers judged their acts of revenge as morally bad when the act hurt innocent bystanders or invited counter-retaliation from the “harmdoer” (i.e., the one who is perceived to have provoked the avenger by somehow harming the avenger). Conversely, Tripp and Bies' avengers judged their acts of revenge as morally good if the act restored the avenger's status or corrected the harmdoer's behavior. The identification of morality-based principles is quite consistent with the prevailing view underlying most of the management research on revenge (e.g., Allred, 1999; Bies & Tripp, 1996; McLean-Parks, 1997; Skarlicki & Folger, 1997; Skarlicki, Folger, & Tesluk, 1999). While Tripp and Bies (1997) discuss their findings in terms of morality-based principles only, it occurs to us that some of their findings may be rooted in considerations of aesthetics. For example, they found that proportionate consequences is a feature by which avengers judge their revenge. We observe here that proportionality is not only a central principle of distributive justice theory (e.g., equity theory, Adams, 1965), but is also a central principle of aesthetics theory, where proportionality and symmetry are considered beautiful (Dickie, 1997; Pole, 1983). The notion that an act of revenge can be beautiful runs contrary to academic discourse on the topic (e.g., O'Leary-Kelly et al., 1996; Robinson & Bennett, 1995), where revenge is labelled as deviant, unjust and tragic. Yet, outside of academic discourse, another view emerges. For example, in her book, Sweet Revenge: The Wicked Delights of Getting Even, Barreca (1995) demonstrates that people delight in revenge fantasies, not only privately, but also publicly, particularly in popular fiction, and especially in Hollywood “action” movies that draw in billions of dollars annually in ticket sales and video rentals. This embrace of revenge in literature and in movies led Jacoby (1983) to observe that the “powerful appeal of the revenge theme in mass entertainment is simply one more manifestation of the gap between private feelings about revenge and the public pretense that justice and vengeance have nothing, perish the uncivilized thought, to do with each other” (p. 8). The truth is this: while few people will admit to approving of revenge, people clearly enjoy hearing revenge stories. But, Barreca also points out that the way the revenge is enacted, not only its consequences, is important. For, revenge, when done right, might not only serve the interests of justice, but also, in aesthetic terms, be poetic justice. We suspect that popular and classic revenge stories become popular and classic not merely because they describe any act of serving justice, but because they describe a beautiful, clever, or humorous act of serving justice. Indeed, the aesthetics of revenge may play a key role in the perceived legitimacy of revenge. To expand on Tripp and Bies (1997), this study aims to understand more fully the “ugly” and “beautiful” faces of revenge—i.e., what features make an act of revenge aesthetically pleasing or unpleasing. We adopt Sandelands and Buckner's (1989) definition of “aesthetically pleasing,” which is the “play of impulses at the fringe of awareness that please.” We expect that understanding the aesthetic features of revenge (i.e., the structural elements of a revenge episode that produce in observers the “play of impulses at the fringe of awareness that please”) may be important because many revenge acts make for very appealing stories that can become organizational folklore. Moreover, perhaps sometimes the stories are so appealing that they may even turn a vigilante employee from a “deviant” into a “hero,” whereby the hero status may mitigate the usual penalties associated with deviance. In support of this line of reasoning, we share Barreca's (1995, pp. 105–106) story about how an airline ticket-counter employee got even with a very abusive customer whom she was going out of her way to help. Sonya told me, “His last words were `If everybody working for this organization is as incompetent as you, no wonder your airline loses money.' He then stormed off. I wished him a good flight as if nothing had happened. “The little old lady behind him in line had heard everything, of course, and she sweetly asked how I managed to stay so polite and cheerful in the face of his abusive behavior. I told her the truth. `He's going to Kansas City,' I explained, `and his bags are going to Tokyo.' She laughed and told me that I'd done the right thing.” What makes Sonya's revenge story so appealing that, not only does an observing customer approve, but it is retold in a book on revenge? Furthermore, if most customers and coworkers react to Sonya's action the way the “little old lady” did, doesn't Sonya get away with this breach of customer service? What constitutes the aesthetics of revenge, and whether aesthetic principles influence the legitimacy of revenge, are the two central questions that motivate the present research. In particular, we seek to identify aesthetics-based principles used to judge revenge. More specifically, what makes for a “great” revenge story? By great, we mean a story that people enjoy telling and listening to, in part because they find the outcome or the protagonist's actions aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, if an act of revenge makes for a great story, does the avenger enjoy greater approval for the deed? That is, can aesthetic principles shape the perceived legitimacy or illegitimacy of an act of revenge? To answer these questions, we conduct two studies. In the first study, employing qualitative methods, we seek to identify different aesthetics-based principles used to judge acts of revenge. The second study, which employs experimental and quantitative methods, tests hypotheses about the legitimacy of revenge that are suggested by the data in the first study. These research studies are important for several reasons. First, in order to understand and predict revenge, let alone manage revenge, there is need for much more empirical research. Second, we know very little about how people judge an act of revenge or whether such judgments may legitimate or delegitimate that act. Given that revenge can sometimes rupture workplace relationships and create lingering feelings of resentment and animosity, it would seem important to understand the conditions under which people might be willing to accept, or even approve of, revenge. Understanding the psychological dynamics of what makes revenge more acceptable may, in turn, provide insights into when revenge might be beneficial. Finally, by using both qualitative and quantitative methods, our study represents a triangulation research strategy, which is also unique in the study of workplace revenge. This research strategy allows an investigation that is both broad and detailed.