Nav: Home

What do your co-workers really think of you?

February 22, 2017

Everyday in the workplace, colleagues actively compete for a limited amount of perks, including raises, promotions, bonuses and recognition. But new research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that, more than often than not, people fall short in determining which co-workers might be trying to edge them out on the job.

"We looked at whether people understood what other people in the workplace thought of them," said Hillary Anger Elfenbein, professor of organizational behavior. "You tend to know who likes you. But, for negative feelings, including competitiveness, people had no clue."

Elfenbein and her co-authors, Noah Eisenkraft from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Shirli Kopelman from the University of Michigan, ran two different studies during the course of their research, recently published in the journal Psychological Science. In the first, they surveyed salespeople at a Midwestern car dealership where competition was both normal and encouraged. The second study included surveys from more than 200 undergraduate students in 56 separate project groups. All were asked similar questions about their co-workers, and what they assumed those people thought of them. When the responses about competition were analyzed, the results were striking: While there were outliers, they completely canceled out.

In other words, co-workers have no clue about their competitive cohorts.

"Some people show their competitiveness, some people you can tell have it out for you, but others have it out for you and act like they're your close friend," Elfenbein said. "Those two effects wash out, and people on average have zero idea about who feels competitively toward them."

The researchers offer two main reasons for the disconnect: First, people tend to mask outward feelings of competitiveness toward others in an effort to be polite. Also, the concept of reciprocity played a role.

"For liking, reciprocation is a good thing," Elfenbein said. "You keep dates, you give gifts, you have shared, positive experiences. But to get the benefits of competition, such as promotions or perks, you don't need it to be reciprocated. And when you don't get that feeling back, it's hard to gauge who's truly competing against you."

For a manager in the workplace who wants a strong and cohesive team, transparency and uncrossable lines appear to be the key in maintaining the balance, the researchers said.

"You want to promote a climate where there is friendly competition," Elfenbein said. "At the car dealership, everybody knows they are competing against each other. Entire salaries can be based on performance. But if you create a climate where there are boundaries you don't cross, you can make space for mutual healthy competition to be rewarded."

As for the individual in the workplace who fears being blindsided by co-workers?

"You need to pay more attention to what people do rather than what they say," Elfenbein said. "When people are too polite to say something to your face, you need a good, strong network that will let you know what other people really think."
-end-
Elfenbein may be reached for interviews at helfenbein@wustl.edu

Washington University in St. Louis

Related Climate Articles:

Climate change label leads to climate science acceptance
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
Was that climate change?
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
Uncertainties related to climate engineering limit its use in curbing climate change
Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques.
Public holds polarized views about climate change and trust in climate scientists
There are gaping divisions in Americans' views across every dimension of the climate debate, including causes and cures for climate change and trust in climate scientists and their research, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Incubating climate change
A group of James Cook University scientists led by Emeritus Professor Ross Alford has designed and built an inexpensive incubator that could boost research into how animals and plants will be affected by climate change.
And the Oscar goes to ... climate change
New research finds that Tweets and Google searches about climate change set new record highs after Leonardo DiCaprio's Academy Awards acceptance speech, suggesting celebrity advocacy for social issues on a big stage can motivate popular engagement.
Cod and climate
Researchers use the North Atlantic Oscillation as a predictive tool for managing an iconic fishery.
What hibernating toads tell us about climate
The ability to predict when toads come out of hibernation in southern Canada could provide valuable insights into the future effects of climate change on a range of animals and plants.
Maryland climate and health report identifies state's vulnerabilities to climate change
A new report by the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene details the impacts of climate change on the health of Marylanders now and in the future.

Related Climate Reading:

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change (The Politically Incorrect Guides)
by Marc Morano (Author)

Less freedom. More regulation. Higher costs. Make no mistake: those are the surefire consequences of the modern global warming campaign waged by political and cultural elites, who have long ago abandoned fact-based science for dramatic fearmongering in order to push increased central planning. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change gives a voice -- backed by statistics, real-life stories, and incontrovertible evidence -- to the millions of "deplorable" Americans skeptical about the multibillion dollar "climate change" complex, whose claims have time and time again been... View Details


The Climate Chronicles: Inconvenient Revelations You Won't Hear From Al Gore--And Others
by Joe Bastardi (Author)

A revealing look by someone who has loved the weather since his first memory--and has worked in the field for over 40 years--at what is really inside the man-made "climate change" agenda. The author shows through countless examples, the exploitation, politicization, and weaponization of weather and climate in an effort to promote an agenda that runs counter to the foundations this nation was built on. View Details


Climate (Science Readers: Content and Literacy)
by Teacher Created Materials (Author)

This high-interest informational text will help students gain science content knowledge while building their literacy skills and nonfiction reading comprehension. This appropriately leveled nonfiction science reader features hands-on, simple science experiments. Third grade students will learn all about climate through this engaging text that is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and supports STEM education. View Details


This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
by Naomi Klein (Author)

The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.

In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.

In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and... View Details


What Is Climate Change? (What Was?)
by Gail Herman (Author), Who HQ (Author), John Hinderliter (Illustrator)

Learn more about what climate change means and how it's affecting our planet.

The earth is definitely getting warmer. There's no argument about that, but who or what is the cause? And why has climate change become a political issue? Are humans at fault? Is this just a natural development? While the vast majority of scientists who study the environment agree that humans play a large part in climate change, there is a counterargument. Author Gail Herman presents both sides of the debate in this fact-based, fair-minded, and well-researched book that looks at the subject from... View Details


Human Caused Global Warming
by Tim Ball PhD (Author)

This book examines the claims of human induced global warming made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) using proper journalistic and investigative techniques. It explains how it was a premeditated, orchestrated deception, using science to impose a political agenda. It fooled a majority including most scientists. They assumed that other scientists would not produce science for a political agenda. German Physicist and meteorologist Klaus-Eckart Puls finally decided to look for himself. Here is what he discovered.

Ten years ago I simply parroted what the IPCC told... View Details


Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change
by Jim Antal (Author), Bill McKibben (Foreword)

Climate Church, Climate World argues that climate change is the greatest moral challenge humanity has ever faced. Hunger, refugees, poverty, inequality, deadly viruses, war—climate change multiplies all forms of global social injustice. Environmental leader Reverend Jim Antal presents a compelling case that it’s time for the church to meet this moral challenge, just as the church addressed previous moral challenges. Antal calls for the church to embrace a new vocation so that future generations might live in harmony with God’s creation. After describing how we have created the dangers... View Details


Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know®
by Joseph Romm (Author)

Climate change will have a bigger impact on humanity than the Internet has had. The last decade's spate of superstorms, wildfires, heat waves, and droughts has accelerated the public discourse on this topic and lent credence to climatologist Lonnie Thomson's 2010 statement that climate change "represents a clear and present danger to civilization." In June 2015, the Pope declared that action on climate change is a moral issue.

This book offers the most up-to-date examination of climate change's foundational science, its implications for our future, and the core clean energy solutions.... View Details


Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know®
by Joseph Romm (Author)

"This is, for my money, the best single-source primer on the state of climate change." - New York Magazine

"The right book at the right time: accessible, comprehensive, unflinching, humane." - The Daily Beast

"A must-read." - The Guardian

The essential primer on what will be the defining issue of our time, Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know® is a clear-eyed overview of the science, conflicts, and implications of our warming planet.

From Joseph Romm, Chief Science... View Details


How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate
by Andrew J. Hoffman (Author)

Though the scientific community largely agrees that climate change is underway, debates about this issue remain fiercely polarized. These conversations have become a rhetorical contest, one where opposing sides try to achieve victory through playing on fear, distrust, and intolerance. At its heart, this split no longer concerns carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, or climate modeling; rather, it is the product of contrasting, deeply entrenched worldviews. This brief examines what causes people to reject or accept the scientific consensus on climate change. Synthesizing evidence from sociology,... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Person You Become
Over the course of our lives, we shed parts of our old selves, embrace new ones, and redefine who we are. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the experiences that shape the person we become. Guests include aerobatics pilot and public speaker Janine Shepherd, writers Roxane Gay and Taiye Selasi, activist Jackson Bird, and fashion executive Kaustav Dey.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#479 Garden of Marvels (Rebroadcast)
This week we're learning about botany and the colorful science of gardening. Author Ruth Kassinger joins us to discuss her book "A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered that Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of the Way Plants Work." And we'll speak to NASA researcher Gioia Massa about her work to solve the technical challenges of gardening in space.