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Guilt motivates best when it's self-inflicted. | Archive Timothy McCarthy / Art Resource, NY. Caption: Cain After Having Killed His Brother Abel. Vidal Henri, 1896.

It might seem like a safe assumption that employees who like their jobs would be more likely to show up for work each day, and those who are disgruntled would be the ones more likely to hit the snooze button on their alarms and go back to sleep.

Strangely, though, research on the subject of absenteeism hasn’t borne out that assumption, with meta-analyses of the link between job satisfaction and absenteeism finding only a weak negative correlation between the two factors.

“When it comes to doing something or not doing it, whether that something is personally pleasurable affects our behavior less than we might think,” explains Rebecca Schaumberg, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior/business administration at Stanford Graduate School of Business and is now an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Instead, Schaumberg and her colleague Francis J. Flynn, the Paul E. Holden Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford GSB, have documented the surprising power of another motivating factor — the guilt people feel when they don’t fulfill someone else’s expectations.

自责是最有激励价值的情绪。 | Archive Timothy McCarthy / Art Resource, NY. Caption: Cain After Having Killed His Brother Abel. Vidal Henri, 1896.

 

人们似乎可以有把握地推测,喜爱自己工作的员工会更愿意每天到岗工作,而对工作感到不满的人,则更有可能按掉闹钟,倒头继续睡觉。

但奇怪的是,关于旷工行为的研究并不支持这一推测:荟萃分析表明,工作满意度和旷工行为之间只存在很弱的负相关关系。

斯坦福大学商学院组织行为学兼商业管理学博士、宾夕法尼亚大学沃顿商学院助教丽贝卡·肖恩伯格(Rebecca Schaumberg)解释道:”当我们在决定是否要做某件事时,这件事本身是否带来愉悦感对我们行为的影响其实并没有想象中那么大。“

肖恩伯格和她的同事弗朗西斯·弗林,斯坦福大学商学院组织行为学保罗·霍尔登(Paul E. Holden)证明了一项令人惊讶的事实:当人们没能达到别人的期待时,他们心中的内疚感能对自己起到激励作用。

 

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Assessing “Guilt Proneness”

In a paper (“Clarifying the Link Between Job Satisfaction and Absenteeism: The Role of Guilt Proneness”) published last year in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Schaumberg and Flynn studied a sample of 334 customer service agents at seven different call centers for a major telecommunications company in the southwestern U.S. The subjects took an online survey in which they expressed how they felt about their jobs, and then also took a test designed to assess their “guilt proneness,” or their tendency to experience negative feelings about personal wrongdoing. After that, the researchers analyzed four months’ worth of the workers’ attendance records, provided by the company.

Schaumberg and Flynn found that for workers who had a low degree of guilt proneness, job satisfaction was negatively related to absenteeism — that is, if they were happy with their work, they tended to show up. In contrast, job satisfaction was unrelated to absenteeism for highly guilt-prone employees.

“People who have guilt proneness show up even if they don’t like their job as much,” Flynn says.

Guilt is good. It actually has a lot in common with positive emotions.

评估“内疚感”

在去年发表在《应用心理学杂志》(Journal of Applied Psychology)上的一篇论文中(澄清工作满意度与旷工的联系:内疚感的作用), Schaumberg和Flynn在美国西南部的一家大型电信公司的7个不同的呼叫中心研究了334名客服。研究对象进行了一项在线调查,他们表达了他们对自己工作的感受然后,还进行了一项测试,以评估他们的“内疚感”,或者他们对自己的不良行为产生负面情绪的倾向。之后,研究人员分析了公司提供的,这四个月的工人出勤记录。

Schaumberg和Flynn发现,对于那些内疚感较低的员工来说,工作满意度与旷工是负相关的—也就是说,如果他们对自己的工作感到满意,他们就会不旷工。相反,对高度内疚倾向的雇员而言,工作满意度与旷工无关。

“有内疚感的人即使不喜欢自己的工作也会按时上班,” Flynn说。

有内疚感是好事。实际上它和积极情绪有很多共同之处。

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Francis J. Flynn

That finding was bolstered by a second survey, in which Schaumberg and Flynn studied 227 workers in a range of industries from agriculture to entertainment and got similar results. In addition, the researchers also measured two other qualities — agreeableness and moral identity — and found that these traits influenced absenteeism in a fashion similar to guilt proneness. As they write in their paper, those results “further support our theorizing that the relationship between job satisfaction and absenteeism depends upon the extent to which a person is motivated by filling others’ normative expectations, as opposed to fulfilling one’s own immediate interests.”

It’s Not About Disappointing a Particular Person

The researchers didn’t try to determine who it was that the highly guilt-prone workers were so worried about not disappointing. As Schaumberg explains, that can vary from person to person and situation to situation.

“It’s more the tendency to feel guilt that’s important,” she says. “The person will anticipate guilt for failing to fulfil the expectations of others by not doing something they should have done. But it’s not a tendency to feel guilty to colleagues or family or a husband or spouse. It’s generalized.”

Francis J. Flynn

第二次调查支持这一发现,Schaumberg和Flynn研究了从农业到娱乐业的一系列行业的227名从业者,得到了相似的结果。此外,研究者还测量了其他两种素质——和睦性和道德认同——发现这些特征对缺勤的影响类似于内疚倾向。正如他们在论文中所写的,那些结果“进一步支持了我们的理论,工作满意度与缺勤之间的关系取决于个人达到他人基准期望的程度,而不是满足自己的切身利益。”

这不是让一个特定的人失望

研究者没有试图确定到底是谁,让极为内疚的工人如此担心以使其不失望。Schaumberg解释道,这因人而异,情况不同。

“更重要的是感到内疚的倾向,”她说。“人们会预感内疚,因为没有做他们本该做的事情而导致达不到他人的期望。但对于同事、家人、丈夫或配偶感到内疚不是一种倾向。它是广义的。”

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A propensity for experiencing guilt might seem like a painful psychological affliction. But as Flynn explains, it actually can be a plus in the workplace. Previous studies by Schaumberg and Flynn have found that highly guilt-prone individuals have a higher degree of commitment to organizations and are routinely rated in performance reviews as being more capable leaders than counterparts who are less prone to feeling guilty.

“Guilt is good,” Flynn says. “It actually has a lot in common with positive emotions.”

Distinguishing Guilt from Shame

Flynn says that it’s important to differentiate guilt from shame, a bad feeling that’s focused upon oneself as a person, rather than an act. Shame generally has detrimental effects and can cause a worker to withdraw or lash out against others. A guilt-prone person, in contrast, would strive to deal with a problem that they’ve caused and undo the harm to others — or avoid committing another transgression.

All of this might lead a manager to contemplate hiring job candidates based upon their degree of guilt proneness. Flynn says that a reliable guilt proneness assessment tool for business use hasn’t yet been developed, “though I know some companies are keen on figuring it out.”

倾向于感到内疚可能像是一种令人痛苦的心理折磨。 但是正如弗林解释道,这种内疚感事实上可以在工作场合是有益的。肖恩伯格和弗林之前的研究发现,相比那些较少感到内疚的人,这些拥有高度内疚倾向个体拥有对组织更高程度的义务承担,并且在绩效考核中,通常被认为是更有能力的领导者。

“感到内疚是好事,”弗林说,“事实上,感到内疚和积极情绪有很多共同点。”

区分内疚和羞愧

弗林说区分内疚和羞愧是很重要的。羞愧感是一种专注于作为人的个人的不良感觉,而不是一种行为。羞耻通常具有有害的影响,并可能导致劳动者退缩或者猛烈抨击他人。相比之下,一个倾向于内疚的人会努力处理自己造成的问题,消除对他人的伤害,或者避免犯下另一个过错。.

所有这一切都可能导致一个经理根据求职者内疚倾向的程度来考虑是否录用他们。弗林表示,一个可靠的可供内疚倾向评估业务使用的工具还没有被开发出来。他又补充道:“虽然我知道一些公司热衷于找出来。”

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But Flynn cautions against trying to alter workers’ existing tendencies in an effort to make them feel more guilt. “Clearly, we want to get a handle upon who these highly guilt-prone people are, because they’re outstanding employees,” he says. “But we don’t want to try creating them from scratch.” Trying to make employees feel guilty about missing work could backfire and trigger reactance, in which they resist the manipulation. “People don’t like having a guilt trip placed on them,” he observes.

Instead, Schaumberg hopes that the insights from the research eventually will lead to managers being more cognizant of the psychological diversity of individuals in their workforce. “If we better understand a person’s qualities, we can better create an environment in which the person can thrive,” she says.

然而Flynn也警告不要尝试通过使用改变工作者已有性格趋势的方法,来试图让他们变得更容易产生内疚。他说道:“很明显,我们都想要控制那些存在极大内疚感倾向的人,因为他们都是十分出色的雇员,但是我们也不想尝试去创造具有这种倾向的人。”试图让雇员产生对于旷工的内疚感很可能适得其反,也会使其产生感应抵抗,这会导致雇员产生抵制情绪。Flynn观察发现:“人们并不愿意产生内疚感。”

相反,Schaumberg希望通过研究中产生的见解,最终能够帮助管理者们对雇员个体心理多样性有进一步的认识,她说道:“如果我们能够更好地了解一个人的特质,那我们就能创造出更适合这个人成就自我的环境。”

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