Australian research shows workplace bullying involves us all

August 1, 2012
Australian research shows workplace bullying involves us all

New research from Murdoch University and Edith Cowan University sheds light on the roles bystanders play in workplace bullying.

To better understand how co-workers can impact , Dr Megan Paull of Murdoch’s School of Business and her partners created 13 ‘types’ – ranging from the aggressive Instigating Bystander to the Submitting Bystander, who ends up becoming a substitute for the victim.

Middle spectrum types include the Manipulating Bystander, Abdicating Bystander, Defending Bystander and Sympathising .

“Bystanders are not incidental, but are an integral part of the context of bullying, with some siding with the bully or victim, either actively or passively,” Dr Paull said.

“People don’t always appreciate the impact of their actions, or inactions. For example, a social reaction to walking into a room where colleagues are laughing is to laugh along without thinking. But you could be adding fuel to someone’s embarrassment.”

Dr Paull said establishing context was important, and that the issue was complex, noting competition and rivalry were natural in work and social relationships. She also cautioned that what might appear as bullying to an outsider could be fine with the target of the act.

“It’s not a cut and dried issue, but we’re trying to raise awareness and make organisations and individuals aware of the responsibilities they have to respect and appreciate the subtleties of human relationships and psychological well-being,” Dr Paull said.

“Awareness can lead managers and staff to develop effective strategies for diffusing potential situations. Studies have shown that people who recognise their roles, and have the tools to act, can make a positive difference.”

Dr Paull said her study was informed by research on school bullying, an area which has benefited from training, awareness and culture change programs.

She noted has become a matter of concern on a national level. In May 2012, Federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten MP requested a House of Representatives report on the issue.

Explore further: Teens' take on bullying

Related Stories

Teens' take on bullying

November 11, 2010

Both the bully and the victim's individual characteristics, rather than the wider social environment, explain why bullying occurs, according to Swedish teenagers. The new study, by Dr. Robert Thornberg and Sven Knutsen from ...

Bullying can be a summertime issue, too

July 6, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The threat of bullying doesn't stop at the schoolyard gate nor does it end when the final bell signals the beginning of summer vacation, warns Dr. Jennifer Caudle of the University of Medicine and Dentistry ...

Study shows bullying affects both bystanders and target

October 12, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Maybe it was the hefty eighth-grader pushing the skinny sixth-grader out of a seat on the bus, or perhaps it was a group of cheerleaders making fun of an overweight girl. Most of us can remember witnessing ...

New research reveals extent of family and sibling bullying

June 29, 2011

Children who are slapped and shouted at by their parents are more likely to bully their brothers and sisters. Findings from 'Understanding Society', a study of 40,000 UK households funded by the Economic and Social Research ...

Recommended for you

Waiting periods reduce deaths from guns, study suggests

October 17, 2017

(Phys.org)—A trio of researchers with Harvard Business School has found evidence that they claim shows gun deaths decline when states enact waiting period laws. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy ...

Roman theater uncovered at base of Jerusalem's Western Wall

October 16, 2017

Israeli archaeologists on Monday announced the discovery of the first known Roman-era theater in Jerusalem's Old City, a unique structure around 1,800 years old that abuts the Western Wall and may have been built during Roman ...

Human speech, jazz and whale song

October 13, 2017

Jazz musicians riffing with each other, humans talking to each other and pods of killer whales all have interactive conversations that are remarkably similar to each other, new research reveals.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.