May 27th, 2014

Workplace Bullying: U.S. Coworkers’ Actions


Results from several WBI online surveys of bullied targets reliably show that coworkers rarely help their bullied colleagues. Several social psychological processes operate in the group setting to explain the failure to act prosocially.

The perspective of the general public captured in this national Survey describes circumstances somewhat more positively than surveys of bullied targets. We believe the reference to “most of the witnesses” led to these inexplicable results. The flaw is in the design of the question.

Doing nothing was the most cited tactic. Of course, doing nothing to help colleagues when they are distressed is not a neutral act. It is negative. However, it is not the same as betraying the target by siding with the perpetrator(s). Negative actions were taken in 49% of cases.

Respondents from the national sample believe that approximately one-quarter of coworkers (29%) take public positive steps to help their bullied friends. This is more benevolent than targets credit coworkers to be. And the public estimate that only 7% of coworkers ostracize (socially exclude, “ice out,” and isolate) their peers seems unrealistically low.

Question: How did most of the witnesses react to the ongoing mistreatment of the targeted person?

Download the Coworkers’ Reaction mini-Report


Gary Namie, PhD, Research Director
Research Assistants: Daniel Christensen & David Phillips

© 2014, Workplace Bullying Institute, All Rights Reserved

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 at 3:09 am and is filed under WBI Education, WBI Surveys & Studies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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