Voodoo dolls of boss help deflate anger
ALLOWING disgruntled staff to stab voodoo dolls of their boss could help them feel less resentful and improve the quality of their work, a new study has suggested.
Rather than allowing staff to brood over mistreatment by overbearing or abusive managers, which can be detrimental to work, business experts have suggested they should be allowed to take out their anger on voodoo dolls.
A study of 229 workers in the US and Canada found that engaging in symbolic retaliation lowered feelings of injustice by a third.
Although revenge is often viewed negatively, the researchers say the findings highlight “the largely overlooked benefit of retaliation from the victim’s perspective”.
Assistant Professor Dr Lindie Liang, of Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, said voodoo dolls could help staff
“As weird as it sounds, yes,” she said “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.
“It may not have to be a voodoo doll per se: theoretically anything that serves as a symbolic act of retaliation, like throwing darts at a picture of your boss, might work.
“Symbolically retaliating against an abusive boss can benefit employees psychologically by allowing them to restore their sense of justice.”
The participants in the study used an online voodoo doll programme created by Dumb.com, which allows users to name the effigy after their boss, and sticking pins into it, burning it with a candle, and pinching it with pliers.
Although voodoo dolls are often linked to Africa and the Americas in popular fiction, early records suggest they have their origins in the British medieval period, when people would make rag dolls or sculptures of witches – called poppetts – and pierce them with pins to inflict harm or break an enchantment.
The dolls were later mistakenly linked with Afro-Caribbean Voodoo, or Vodou.
The report authors decided to embark on the study because previous research suggested that people who felt they had been treated unfairly would lash out at their abuser, but it could spark a spiral of retaliation and counter-retaliation which is detrimental in the long term.
In a paper in the journal The Leadership Quarterly, the authors conclude: “[The] findings suggest that retaliation not only benefits individual victims, but may also benefit the organisation as a whole, given that justice perceptions are important for employee performance and well-being.”
TAKE THAT!: A symbolic act of retaliation against a boss can be good for your work