The relative impact of workplace bullying as a social stressor at work

Scand J Psychol. 2010 Oct;51(5):426-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2010.00813.x.


Exposure to workplace bullying has been argued to be a severe social stressor and a more crippling and devastating problem for affected individuals than the effects of all other work-related stressors put together. However, few studies have explicitly investigated this assumption. In a representative sample of the Norwegian working population, the present study investigated the relative contribution of workplace bullying as a predictor of individual and organizational related outcomes after controlling for the well-documented job stressors of job demands, decision authority, role ambiguity and role conflict. Bullying was found to be a significant predictor of all the outcomes included, showing a substantial relative contribution in relation to anxiety and depression, while for job satisfaction, turnover intention and absenteeism, more modest relative contributions were identified. Workplace bullying is indeed a potent social stressor with consequences similar to, or even more severe than, the effects of other stressors frequently encountered within organizations. Thus, the finding that bullying has a considerable effect on exposed individuals also when controlling for the effects of other job stressors demonstrates bullying as a serious problem at workplaces that needs to be actively prevented and managed in its own right.

Keywords: Bullying; anxiety; depression; harassment; job stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Bullying*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Workplace / psychology*
  • Young Adult