Authors, Title and Publication

Ohly, S., & Schmitt, A. (2015). What makes us enthusiastic, angry, feeling at rest or worried? Development and validation of an affective work events taxonomy using concept mapping methodology. Journal of Business & Psychology30(1), 15-35.

The research reported in this article aims to develop a comprehensive taxonomy of affective work events. Affective events theory (AET) highlights the importance of work events as antecedents of distinct emotions, attitudes, and work behavior. For instance, employees could experience pride when accomplishing an important task, anger when having to talk to a rude customer, or frustration when goal progress is lacking. Using a diary study design and concept mapping methodology, the authors grouped 559 positive and 383 negative affective work events reported by 218 employees into four positive and seven negative event clusters.

These four positive event clusters include “goal attainment, problem solving, task-related success,” “praise, appreciation, positive feedback,” “perceived competence in or through social interactions,” and “passively experienced, externally determined positive experiences.”  The seven negative event clusters include “conflicts and communication problems,” “problems in interactions with clients or patients,” “managerial and internal problems, organizational climate,” “health problems and private issues,” “technical difficulties, problems with work tools and equipment,” “ambiguity, insecurity, loss of control,” and “hindrances in goal attainment, obstacles in completing work tasks, overload.” Among them, “goal attainment, problem solving, task-related success” is the most frequently reported positive event cluster followed by “praise, appreciation, positive feedback.”  “Hindrances in goal attainment, obstacles in completing work tasks, overload” is the most frequently reported negative event cluster followed by “conflicts and communication problems.” Every event cluster influences employees’ affective states differently.

Implications for Practice

Organizations should 1) improve employees’ level of positive affect and reduce negative affect by offering opportunities for goal attainment, problem solving and task-related success; 2) help employees develop the competencies and skills that are required to perform effectively through training, coaching, and proving direct support; 3) cultivate a positive organizational climate that emphasizes development and learning; 4) reward and show appreciation for employees’ work and contribution; and 5) develop employees’ communication skills and help resolve conflicts and communication problems internally.

Location of Article

The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)


Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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