When unfairness makes us angry at work

People are often angered and sympathise when their co-workers of the same sex are treated unfairly in employment. This is according to new research published in Springer's journal Sex Roles, which found individuals experience negative emotions when they witness incivility towards their colleagues.

Investigators from Texas A&M University and the Buena Vista University in Iowa - which was formerly Buena Vista College - discovered that while such behaviour first illicit feelings for those being abused, it also impacts a person's thoughts as an observer.

It was demonstrated that females feel greater levels of demoralisation, fear, anger and anxiety when seeing a fellow employee treated rudely or discourteously, while males reported the same - barring the demoralisation emotion.

The authors stated: "Our results paint a complex picture about the experience of specific negative emotions in response to observed incivility toward same gender co-workers."

They added for that for both men and women, viewing such actions can have considerable affective consequences.

Kisane Prutton, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Fairness is considered by psychologists to be a universal human need, in other words, it is critical to the wellbeing of all human beings, no matter what creed, colour or gender.

"Observing violation of this basic human requirement is likely to strike a chord in onlookers, not just at a rational, conscious level - 'this is not appropriate behaviour' - but also at a more emotional, subconscious level, causing that classic, stomach-churning feeling."