Ganster, M. L., Gabriel, A. S., Rosen, C. C., Simon, L. S., Butts, M. M., & Boswell, W. R. (2022). Retreating or repairing? Examining the alternate linkages between daily partner-instigated incivility at home and helping at work. Journal of Applied Psychology.

Although research has recognized the straining effects of incivility at work, it is less clear how incivility experiences at home affect employees’ daily states and behaviors at work. We argue that partner-instigated incivility—ambiguous aggressions from an employee’s partner prior to work may affect helping behavior at work in multiple ways. Building on prior research, which has identified different mechanisms (i.e., resource drain, reactive compensation) linking family and work domains, we argue that whereas partner-instigated incivility may be cognitively depleting, thus limiting employees’ capacity to help others, it may also induce negative mood, which may drive employees to compensate for this unpleasant experience by engaging in more person- and task-focused helping behaviors at work. Furthermore, we consider perspective taking as an individual difference with the potential to buffer the effects of partner-instigated incivility on cognitive depletion and negative mood. Results from a critical incident study (Study 1) supported our assertion that partner-instigated incivility is cognitively depleting and inducing of negative mood. In an experience sampling study (Study 2), which included daily reports from employees and their partners who instigated incivility, we replicated the initial effects and found support for a compensation linkage between partner-instigated incivility and both forms of helping at work via negative mood and partial support for the moderating role of perspective taking. Results also indicated that person-focused helping lessened employees’ negative mood in the evening, suggesting that mood repair benefits are associated with this behavior. Implications of these findings for family incivility occurrences and self-regulation are discussed.