Research Publications

The Mutuality and Reciprocity Lab is committed to producing high quality research that makes meaningful contributions to the literature on employee-employer relationships from a theoretical, methodological, and practical point of view. Below you can find our most recent publications. Enjoy the read!


Investigating the Neurological Correlates of Workplace Deviance Using a Rodent Model of Extinction.

Jason Tabor, Yannick Griep, Reid Collins, & Richelle Mychasiuk (Nature’s Scientific Reports, 2018).

Employee deviance and time theft is an expensive and pervasive workplace problem. Research indicates that a primary reason employees engage in deviant behaviour is the perception of injustice often associated with psychological contract breach (i.e., broken promises). This study used a rodent model to mimic said experience of broken promises and then examined the subsequent neurophysiological changes that lead to the display of deviant behaviours. Specifically, we generated a psychological contract using a 3 choice serial reaction task, then broke the promise, and finally examined deviant behaviours and neurological correlates. After the broken promise, rats had elevated levels of corticosterone and testosterone, engaged in riskier behaviour, and were more aggressive. The most prominent changes in gene expression were associated with serotonin and stress, and were found in the nucleus accumbens. This study highlights the value of pre-clinical models in the investigation of the theoretical tenants of industrial and organizational psychology.

Keywords: Aggression, Psychological Contract Breach, Nucleus Accumbens, Serotonin, Stress


Burning the Midnight Oil: Examining Wellbeing and Vulnerability in Alberta’s Oil Patch.

Alysia Wright & Yannick Griep (The Extractive Industries and Society, 2018). 

Oil workers represent more than six percent of Alberta’s labour force and many of these workers are located in remote, isolated oil fields with limited access to social, psychological, and health services. The purpose of this study was to explore the nuanced experience of oil workers located in Alberta, Canada and contributes to the extant body of research on the topic of wellbeing in the petroleum industry. Fourteen workers shared their experiences of social isolation, the affect of job-related stress on their social, emotional and psychological wellbeing, and coping mechanisms for working in such high-risk, high-strain work environments. Based on the findings, we recommend that vulnerability needs to be contextualized for the petroleum industry and further research needs to be conducted about the psychological and physical costs paid by workers in order to maintain careers in the petroleum industry.

Keywords: Psychosocial wellbeing, Petroleum industry, employee wellbeing, vulnerability, mining and extraction


ULTra-short term heart rate variability as a tool to assess changes in valence.

Arjen Schippers, Yannick Griep, Bart Aben, & Frank Van Overwalle (Psychiatry Research, 2018). 

Heart rate variability (HRV) is a tool that has been extensively used in fields such as clinical cardiology, psychiatry, and psychology to assess affective experiences. Although traditionally, The European Society of Cardiology and The North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology recommended to use either a recording length of 24-hours (long-term) or five minutes (short-term), recent advances in the field have suggested the use of ultra-short term (< 5 minutes) HRV measurements. In this study, we investigated whether ultra-short term HRV measurements can be used to investigate the temporal dynamics of experimentally induced emotions using selected pictures from the International Affective Picture System. We took electrocardiogram recordings from thirty-nine participants, and analyzed the root mean square of the successive differences (RMSSD) of the R-R interval using a thirty-second moving window. No significant differences in HRV during positive and negative emotion induction were found. These results call into question the use of ultra-short term HRV as a tool for psychologists to measure changes in valence in affective studies.

Keywords: Emotion assessment, heart rate variability, attention, valence


The relationship between organisational change and being a perpetrator of workplace bullying: A three-wave longitudinal study

Elfi Baillien, Yannick Griep, Tinne Vander Elst, & Hans De Witte (Work & Stress, 2018). 

While research has unravelled the association between organisational change and being a target of workplace bullying, scholars have still to shed light on the perpetrator perspective of this association. In the current study, we further the literature by investigating the relationship between exposure to organisational change and being a perpetrator of workplace bullying. We introduced perceptions of psychological contract breach as a mechanism that accounts for the process in which exposure to organisational change leads employees to direct bullying behaviours to other members of the organisation. Using three-wave longitudinal data from 1994 employees we estimated  a between-subjects mediation model controlling for autoregressive effects. Results confirmed our hypothesis that exposure to organisational change at Time 1 was positively related to being a perpetrator of workplace bullying at Time 3 through perceptions of psychological contract breach at Time 2. These findings suggest that organisations should invest in factors that lower employees’ likelihood to perceive psychological contract breach in the aftermath of organisational change because these perceptions may indeed result in the enactment of workplace bullying towards other members of the organisation.

Keywords: Workplace bullying; mobbing; organisational change; psychological contract; longitudinal study


Ideological components of Psychological Contracts: Future directions for volunteer and employment research

Kappelides, P. & Jones, S.K. (Handbook of research on the psychological contract at work, 2018)

In this chapter we have explored the ideological components of psychological contracts (PC) for volunteer and employment research. In particular, we highlight the role ideology and the PC has played in progressing our understanding of social exchange relationships in the workplace and proposing critical questions to aid in furthering the integration the ideological components of psychological contracts into the broader PC framework. We also explore the understanding of how values and ideology may serve as a basis for these social exchange relationships, which are essential for building on management and organizational behaviour research and understanding the impact the changing nature of employment (both in the voluntary and paid sector) has for employee and organizational outcomes. 

Keywords: Ideological psychological contract; Volunteer; Employee; Social Exchange Theory; Values; Ideology.



Weinhardt, J., Griep, Y., & Sosnowska, J. (Handbook of research on the psychological contract at work, 2018)

Formal dynamic and computational models are a useful method of conceptualizing complex and dynamic phenomena in psychology because they allow researchers to understand how a representation of a phenomenon behaves as a complex system over time. In addition, these methods allow researchers to simulate and understand the processes underlying the phenomenon under study. Despite clear advantages, organizational psychologists seem to shy away from using formal dynamic and computational models (we will discuss a few examples in this chapter). This chapter focuses on how formal dynamic and computational model approaches can advance our understanding of psychological contract dynamics. We will first discuss the advantages of formal dynamic and computational models, and how using them can address the existing issues in the psychological contract literature. Then, we will focus on different levels of analysis and different types of dynamic and computational models that are relevant to psychological contract research. We end this chapter with an overview of useful books, journals, articles, and websites for researchers who are interested in building your own formal dynamic or computational model.

Keywords: formal dynamic models; computational models; psychological contracts; work behavior and attitudes; emotion


I am so Tired… How Fatigue May Exacerbate Stress Reactions to Psychological Contract Breach

Achnak, S., Griep, Y., & Vantilborgh, T. (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018)

Previous research showed that perceptions of psychological contract (PC) breach have undesirable individual and organizational consequences. Surprisingly, the PC literature has paid little to no attention to the relationship between PC breach perceptions and stress. A better understanding of how PC breach may elicit stress seems crucial, given that stress plays a key role in employees’ physical and mental wellbeing. Based on Conservation of Resources Theory, we suggest that PC breach perceptions represent a perceived loss of valued resources, subsequently leading employees to experience higher stress levels resulting from emerging negative emotions. Moreover, we suggest that this mediated relationship is moderated by initial levels of fatigue, due to fatigue lowering the personal resources necessary to cope with breach events. To tests our hypotheses, we analyzed the multilevel data we obtained from two experience sampling designs (Study 1: 51 Belgian employees; Study 2: 53 US employees). Note that the unit of analysis is ‘observations’ rather than ‘respondents’, resulting in an effective sample size of 417 (Study 1) and 374 (Study 2) observations. In both studies, we found evidence for the mediating role of negative emotions in the PC breach—stress relationship. In the second study, we also found evidence for the moderating role of fatigue in the mediated PC breach—stress relationship. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Keywords: Psychological Contract Breach, Stress, Fatigue


I can only work so hard before I burnout: a time sensitive conceptual integration of ideological psychological contract breach, work effort, and burnout.

Jones, S. K., & Griep, Y. (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018)

Employees often draw meaning from personal experiences and contributions in their work, particularly when engaging in organizational activities that align with their personal identity or values. However, recent empirical findings have demonstrated how meaningful work can also have a negative effect on employee’s well-being as employees feel so invested in their work, they push themselves beyond their limits resulting in strain and susceptibility to burnout. We develop a framework to understand this “double edged” role of meaningful work by drawing from ideological psychological contracts (iPC), which are characterized by employees and their employer who are working to contribute to a shared ideology or set of values. Limited iPC research has demonstrated employees may actually work harder in response to an iPC breach. In light of these counterintuitive findings, we propose the following conceptual model to theoretically connect our understanding of iPCs, perceptions of breach, increases in work effort, and the potential “dark side” of repeated occurrences of iPC breach. We argue that time plays a central role in the unfolding process of employees’ reactions to iPC breach over time. Further, we propose how perceptions of iPC breach relate to strain and, eventually, burnout. This model contributes to our understanding of the role of time in iPC development and maintenance, expands our exploration of ideology in the PC literature, and provides a framework to understanding why certain occupations are more susceptible to instances of strain and burnout. This framework has the potential to guide future employment interventions in ideology-infused organizations to help mitigate negative employee outcomes. 

Keywords: Ideological Psychological Contracts, Work Effort, Burnout, Threshold, Dynamics


Personality, religion, and politics: An investigation in 33 countries

Lee, K., Ashton, C. M., Griep, Y., & Edmonds, M. (European Journal of Personality, 2018)

The relations of HEXACO personality factors and religiosity with political orientation were examined in responses collected online from participants in 33 countries (N = 141,492). Endorsement of a right-wing political orientation was negatively associated with Honesty-Humility and Openness to Experience, and positively associated with religiosity. The strength of these associations varied widely across countries, such that the religiosity-politics correlations were stronger in more religious countries whereas the personality-politics correlations were stronger in more developed countries. We also investigated the utility of the narrower traits (i.e., facets) that define the HEXACO factors. The Altruism facet (interstitially located between the Honesty-Humility, Agreeableness, and Emotionality axes) was negatively associated with right-wing political orientation, but religiosity was found to suppress this relationship, especially in countries where religiosity is a strong predictor of political orientation. In addition to Altruism, the Greed Avoidance and Modesty facets of the Honesty-Humility factor and the Unconventionality and Aesthetic Appreciation facets of the Openness to Experience factor were also negatively associated with right-wing political orientation. We discuss the utility of examining facet-level personality traits, along with religiosity, in research on the individual difference correlates of political orientation.   

Keywords: HEXACO; religiosity; political orientation



Griep, Y., Wingate, G. T., & Boyce, A. M. (Meeting expectations in management education: social and environmental pressures on managerial behaviour handbook, 2018)

The chapter reports on antecedents and outcomes of first year management students’ educational engagement. Specifically, the research focused on the role of: (1) anticipatory stress (i.e., stress experienced by students prior to the start of term), (2) early social support for students by instructors (at the first week of the academic year), and (3) the effects of early socialization activities (organized by the university to improve student integration) on students' academic engagement during their first term. Drawing on comparisons with workplace commitment (Solinger et al., 2013), the report describes different developmental paths of academic engagement: (1) Increasing academic engagement over time ('learning to love'); (2) Decreasing academic engagement over time ('honeymoon hangover'); (3) High, moderate or low stable academic engagement. These different paths or trajectories were found to correspond to differences in students’ grade point averages (GPAs) at the end of the first term. Weekly data on a random sample of 180 students were analyzed and it was found that relatively low levels of anticipatory stress predicted moderately stable or increasing levels of academic engagement over time; whereas students with higher levels of anticipatory stress were more likely to experience either stable low, stable high, or decreasing levels of academic engagement over time. Students who received early social support by instructors, such as receiving help, care for their well-being, and study-related recognition, were found to attain highly stable and increasing levels of academic engagement over time. Counterintuitively, students who participated in early socialization activities, such as welcome events organized by the university, were found to exhibit stable low or decreased levels of academic engagement over time. Finally, in terms of academic performance, a positive relationship was found between students’ receiving early social support from instructors and their GPAs, irrespectively of how their academic engagement evolved. In addition, students characterized by stable high, and increasing, levels of academic engagement over time, outperformed students characterized by a stable low, stable moderate, or decreasing levels of academic engagement over time. The findings carry both theoretical and practical implications for enhancing student engagement and learning potential for the following reasons: (1) The developmental paths of students' academic engagement are arguably the main drivers of their academic progress and differences in trajectory help to explain the close-to 75% of the observed variance in GPA; (2) Rather than very general early socialization activities, early social support from instructors is more important in determining students' academic success and whether their rate of progress will be highly stable, with increasing engagement over time; and (3) anticipatory stress is not necessarily bad for students’ academic engagement and success, if it is accompanied by sufficient support from instructors.

Keywords: academic engagement; student performance; anticipatory stress; social support; post-secondary education; process; latent-class growth model