Cognitive asymmetry in employee emotional reactions to leadership behaviors

Marie T. Dasborough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


This article is predicated on the idea that leaders shape workplace affective events. Based on Affective Events Theory (AET), I argue that leaders are sources of employee positive and negative emotions at work. Certain leader behaviors displayed during interactions with their employees are the sources of these affective events. The second theoretical underpinning of the article is the Asymmetry Effect of emotion. Consistent with this theory, employees are more likely to recall negative incidents than positive incidents. In a qualitative study, evidence that these processes exist in the workplace was found. Leader behaviors were sources of positive or negative emotional responses in employees; employees recalled more negative incidents than positive incidents, and they recalled them more intensely and in more detail than positive incidents. Consequently, leaders may need to exercise their emotional intelligence to generate emotional uplifts to overcome the hassles in the workplace that employees seem to remember so vividly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-178
Number of pages16
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Affective events
  • Asymmetry
  • Emotions
  • Leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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