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  • Publication
    How identity impacts bystander responses to workplace mistreatment
    ( 2023) ;
    Tyler Okimoto
    Xinxin Li
    Brooke Gazdag
    Michelle Ryan
    Integrating a social identity approach with Cortina’s (2008) theorizing about selective incivility as modern discrimination, we examine how identification—with an organization, with one’s gender, and as a feminist—shapes bystanders’ interpretations and responses to witnessed incivility (i.e., interpersonal acts of disrespect) and selective incivility (i.e., incivility motivated by targets’ social group membership) towards women at work. We propose that bystanders with stronger organizational identification are less likely to perceive incivility towards female colleagues as discrimination and intervene, but female bystanders with stronger gender identification are more likely to do so. Results from two-wave field data in a cross-lagged panel design (Study 1, N = 336) showed that organizational identification negatively predicted observed selective incivility one year later but revealed no evidence of an effect of female bystanders’ gender identification. We replicated and extended these results with a vignette experiment (Study 2, N = 410) and an experimental recall study (Study 3, N = 504). Findings revealed a “dark side” of organizational identification: strongly identified bystanders were less likely to perceive incivility as discrimination, but there were again no effects of women’s gender identification. Study 3 also showed that bystander feminist identification increased intervention via perceived discrimination. These results raise doubts that female bystanders are more sensitive to recognizing other women’s mistreatment as discrimination, but more strongly identified feminists (male or female) were more likely to intervene. Although strongly organizationally identified bystanders were more likely to overlook women’s mistreatment, they were also more likely to intervene once discrimination was apparent.