We conducted three studies to examine how the recipients of negative workplace gossip judge the gossip sender’s morality and how they respond behaviorally. Study 1 provided experimental evidence that gossip recipients perceive senders as low in morality, with female recipients rating the sender’s morality more negatively than male recipients. In a follow-up experiment (Study 2), we further found that perceived low morality translates into behavioral responses in the form of career-related sanctions by the recipient on the gossip sender. A critical incident study (Study 3) enhanced the external validity and extended the moderated mediation model by showing that gossip recipients also penalize senders with social exclusion. We discuss the implications for practice and research on negative workplace gossip, gender differences in attributions of morality, and gossip recipients’ behavioral responses.
Kakarika, M., Taghavi, S., & González-Gómez, H. (in press). Don’t Shoot the Messenger? A Morality- and Gender-based Model of Reactions to Negative Workplace Gossip. Journal of Business Ethics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-023-05355-7
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