When Feeling Bad Leads to Feeling Good: Guilt-Proneness and Affective Organizational Commitment

When Feeling Bad Leads to Feeling Good: Guilt-Proneness and Affective Organizational Commitment

By
Francis J. Flynn, Rebecca L. Schaumberg
Journal of Applied Psychology. January
2012, Vol. 97, Issue 1, Pages 124-133

The authors posit that higher levels of guilt-proneness are associated with higher levels of affective organizational commitment. To explain this counterintuitive link, the authors suggest that a dispositional tendency to feel guilt motivates individuals to exert greater effort on their work-related tasks that, in turn, strengthens their affinity for the organization. The authors tested this idea using a laboratory study and field data from 2 samples of working adults. Individuals who are more guilt-prone reported higher levels of organizational attachment compared with less guilt-prone individuals. Furthermore, mediation analyses indicate that the link between guilt-proneness and affective commitment is driven by greater task effort. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for understanding the affective drivers of commitment in organizations.