Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why do humans bully each other?

The key to understanding workplace bullying is operant conditioning versus rational or critical thinking (Emerson, 1976).  Employees bully each other because people are conditioned to bully each other by previous role modeling by the family group, their culture, and the society, and then role modeled by senior employees (Bandura, 1973).  Workplace bullying, or human aggression in interpersonal relations at work, is done when results are needed.  The perpetrator, without thinking of individual motivating factors, without really understanding the consequences to the other person in most instances, continues with this same behavior because past experience has produced the desired results.  Stress increases human aggression or withdrawal.  We do not create the behavior in nursing by being oppressed, the individual comes into nursing as an individual with conditioned responses to interpersonal interaction.  We reinforce it by modeling lateral or horizontal violence to the next generation of nurses.  And, as in reciprocal theory, we treat others as we have been treated.

As an astute observer of mankind once said  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” has, in fact turned the workplace environment fraught with bullying into a "do it to others before it is done to you."  Trust is lost in adverse reciprocal interaction when output continues to be unequal in the exchange (Blau, 1987).

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