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Workplace bullying: factors that influence a bystander's willingness to intervene



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To date, little empirical work regarding workplace bullying has been done in Canada, thus, a more extensive look at this phenomenon in the Canadian context is needed. One-hundred-and-twenty University of Saskatchewan employees at different levels (e.g., faculty, support staff, administration) were recruited to complete an on-line survey designed to test a number of predictions. The primary goals set forth in the present project were threefold: (1) estimate the prevalence of varying workplace bullying behaviours in a Canadian context; (2) examine connections between workplace environments and prevalence of these aggressive behaviours; and (3) explore whether individuals’ willingness to intervene in aggressive actions they witness is tied to features of the workplace environment and other mitigating factors. In relation to prevalence, employees reported more witnessed bullying, as compared to experienced bullying. Although no gender differences were observed for rates of bullying, participants did report significantly more female than male perpetrators. In accordance with the study’s predictions, negative work environments were positively associated with the prevalence of bullying behaviour. However, in general, negative work environments were not tied to bystanders’ willingness to intervene in aggressive actions. Other mitigating factors were positively linked to a bystander’s willingness to intervene in a bullying incident, including: bullying event is considered serious; someone else steps in to intervene first; bullying is considered a recurring event; bystander likes the victim; bystander dislikes the bully; bystander believes victim did not deserve the bullying behaviour; and victim believes intervening will not take a lot of time and energy. Implications, as well as practical applications of these findings are discussed.



workplace bullying, workplace environment, bystanders



Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Arts and Science


College of Arts and Science


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