Workers in your office stressed? A boss who’s narcissistic or a megalomaniac? Abuses just too much to tolerate?
Maybe a voodoo doll can help.
That’s the conclusion of a new study released by Science Direct titled “Righting a wrong: Retaliation on a voodoo doll symbolizing an abusive supervisor restores justice.”
The abstract explains the premise that “when a subordinate receives abusive treatment from a supervisor, a natural response is to retaliate against the supervisor.”
It continues: “Although retaliation is dysfunctional and should be discouraged, we examine the potential functional role retaliation plays in terms of alleviating the negative consequences of abusive supervision on subordinate justice perceptions. Based on the notion that retaliation following mistreatment can restore justice for victims, we propose a model whereby retaliation following abusive supervision alleviates the negative effect of abusive supervision on subordinate justice perceptions. … We manipulated abusive supervision and subordinate symbolic retaliation – in particular, harming a voodoo doll that represents the abusive supervisor.”
The authors of the study say, “We found general support for our predictions.”
The Daily Telegraph of London reported a national assessment in the United Kingdom found “more than 12 million Britons are forced to take time off work each year because of stress and anxiety, often caused by pressure from overbearing or abusive managers.”
But the study says that using voodoo dolls, to let employees “take out their anger,” could alleviate some of that.
The study looked at 229 workers in the U.S. and Canada and concluded that “symbolic retaliation” lowered “feelings of injustice” by one third.
“As weird as it sounds, yes, [voodoo dolls can help],” said Lindie Liang of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario.
“We found a simple and harmless symbolic act of retaliation can make people feel like they’re getting even and restoring their sense of fairness.”
She explained that perhaps voodoo dolls themselves might not be necessary.
“Theoretically anything that serves as a symbolic act of retaliation, like throwing darts at a picture of your boss, might work,” she said.
The Telegraph reported study subjects used an online voodoo doll program that allows users to name an effigy after their boss, then stick it with pins and burn it with a candle.
The Telegraph said: “For the study, the participants were asked to recall and visualize a workplace interaction which had involved abuse from a supervisor. Some were then asked to retaliate using a voodoo doll, before all completed a task to fill in the blanks to complete words.”
The finding: “Those who had been allowed to stick pins in their virtual boss were far less likely to still feel bitter, and were also better at completing the word exercise.”
The study’s authors said, “These findings suggest that retaliation not only benefits individual victims, but may also benefit the organization as a whole, given that justice perceptions is important for employee performance and well-being.”