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The Dark Side of The Workplace Bully/Victim

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“..the majority of bully-typifying traits (Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychoticism, and the aggression measures) were associated with being a victim…”

Many surveys show that 25-35% of today’s American workforce self-report that they are suffering the devastating impact of bully bosses. But, as a new Canadian study shows, it’s not always that simple. Take for example the darker side of bullying – the Bully/Victim. Apparently some victims may share certain personality traits with their bully; disagreeableness, dominance, and aggression. And, as noted above, this includes the “dark triad” associated with bullying behavior; machiavellianism, narcissism, psychoticism. “As an example, the bully-typifying trait verbal aggression may be directly associated with the bullying of others (Parkins, Fishbein, & Ritchey, 2006). It is also, however, associated with argumentativeness (Diamond, 2005), a possible ‘annoying’ factor that may provoke others to bully those who score highly on the trait.”

Researchers Daniel K Linton & Jacqueline L Power say that “to investigate a possible explanation for the expression of bully-typifying traits in victims, the prevalence of bully/victims was calculated. Bully/victims were defined as those who had been both perpetrators and targets of negative events at least once weekly during the past 6 months. Bully/victims comprised 15.6% of the overall study sample. Here, we found that a substantive 41.7% of victims and 89.7% of bullies were also bully/victims” 

Linton & Powers argue that “Researchers and employers would do well to recognize the presence of bully/victims in their efforts to understand and reduce workplace bullying.” Clearly the majority of victims play no role in the abuse they endure but for some knowledge is truly power – even when it puts you in the uncomfortable position of reflecting in a mirror.

(Source: The personality traits of workplace bullies are often shared by their victims: Is there a dark side to victims?/ Daniel K. Linton ⇑, Jacqueline L. Power 1 Research initiated at Brandon University, 270 18th Street, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada R7A 6A9)

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6 Comments

  1. This is super interesting. I know many other studies have found that bully/victims tend to have the worst outcomes because of their experiences both being bullied and bullying others… Unlike only-perpetrators and only-victims, these individuals experience the negative effects of both groups. Thanks for sharing!

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    • You’re welcome! This study was presented last June @ the Int’l Conf on Workplace Bullying & Harrassment so it’s surprising that this hasn’t been reported before this.

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  2. Eileen says:

    A most valuable perspective..one worth exploring if the phenomenon is to be fully understood…beyond the obvious motivations.

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