Research Publications

The Mutuality and Reciprocity Lab is committed to producing high quality research that makes meaningful contributions to the literature on employee-employer relationships from a theoretical, methodological, and practical point of view. Below you can find our most recent publications. Enjoy the read!


I am so Tired… How Fatigue May Exacerbate Stress Reactions to Psychological Contract Breach

Achnak, S., Griep, Y., & Vantilborgh, T. (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018)

Previous research showed that perceptions of psychological contract (PC) breach have undesirable individual and organizational consequences. Surprisingly, the PC literature has paid little to no attention to the relationship between PC breach perceptions and stress. A better understanding of how PC breach may elicit stress seems crucial, given that stress plays a key role in employees’ physical and mental wellbeing. Based on Conservation of Resources Theory, we suggest that PC breach perceptions represent a perceived loss of valued resources, subsequently leading employees to experience higher stress levels resulting from emerging negative emotions. Moreover, we suggest that this mediated relationship is moderated by initial levels of fatigue, due to fatigue lowering the personal resources necessary to cope with breach events. To tests our hypotheses, we analyzed the multilevel data we obtained from two experience sampling designs (Study 1: 51 Belgian employees; Study 2: 53 US employees). Note that the unit of analysis is ‘observations’ rather than ‘respondents’, resulting in an effective sample size of 417 (Study 1) and 374 (Study 2) observations. In both studies, we found evidence for the mediating role of negative emotions in the PC breach—stress relationship. In the second study, we also found evidence for the moderating role of fatigue in the mediated PC breach—stress relationship. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Keywords: Psychological Contract Breach, Stress, Fatigue


I can only work so hard before I burnout: a time sensitive conceptual integration of ideological psychological contract breach, work effort, and burnout.

Jones, S. K., & Griep, Y. (Frontiers in Psychology, 2018)

Employees often draw meaning from personal experiences and contributions in their work, particularly when engaging in organizational activities that align with their personal identity or values. However, recent empirical findings have demonstrated how meaningful work can also have a negative effect on employee’s well-being as employees feel so invested in their work, they push themselves beyond their limits resulting in strain and susceptibility to burnout. We develop a framework to understand this “double edged” role of meaningful work by drawing from ideological psychological contracts (iPC), which are characterized by employees and their employer who are working to contribute to a shared ideology or set of values. Limited iPC research has demonstrated employees may actually work harder in response to an iPC breach. In light of these counterintuitive findings, we propose the following conceptual model to theoretically connect our understanding of iPCs, perceptions of breach, increases in work effort, and the potential “dark side” of repeated occurrences of iPC breach. We argue that time plays a central role in the unfolding process of employees’ reactions to iPC breach over time. Further, we propose how perceptions of iPC breach relate to strain and, eventually, burnout. This model contributes to our understanding of the role of time in iPC development and maintenance, expands our exploration of ideology in the PC literature, and provides a framework to understanding why certain occupations are more susceptible to instances of strain and burnout. This framework has the potential to guide future employment interventions in ideology-infused organizations to help mitigate negative employee outcomes. 

Keywords: Ideological Psychological Contracts, Work Effort, Burnout, Threshold, Dynamics


Personality, religion, and politics: An investigation in 33 countries

Lee, K., Ashton, C. M., Griep, Y., & Edmonds, M. (European Journal of Personality, 2018)

The relations of HEXACO personality factors and religiosity with political orientation were examined in responses collected online from participants in 33 countries (N = 141,492). Endorsement of a right-wing political orientation was negatively associated with Honesty-Humility and Openness to Experience, and positively associated with religiosity. The strength of these associations varied widely across countries, such that the religiosity-politics correlations were stronger in more religious countries whereas the personality-politics correlations were stronger in more developed countries. We also investigated the utility of the narrower traits (i.e., facets) that define the HEXACO factors. The Altruism facet (interstitially located between the Honesty-Humility, Agreeableness, and Emotionality axes) was negatively associated with right-wing political orientation, but religiosity was found to suppress this relationship, especially in countries where religiosity is a strong predictor of political orientation. In addition to Altruism, the Greed Avoidance and Modesty facets of the Honesty-Humility factor and the Unconventionality and Aesthetic Appreciation facets of the Openness to Experience factor were also negatively associated with right-wing political orientation. We discuss the utility of examining facet-level personality traits, along with religiosity, in research on the individual difference correlates of political orientation.   

Keywords: HEXACO; religiosity; political orientation



Griep, Y., Wingate, G. T., & Boyce, A. M. (Meeting expectations in management education: social and environmental pressures on managerial behaviour handbook, 2018)

The chapter reports on antecedents and outcomes of first year management students’ educational engagement. Specifically, the research focused on the role of: (1) anticipatory stress (i.e., stress experienced by students prior to the start of term), (2) early social support for students by instructors (at the first week of the academic year), and (3) the effects of early socialization activities (organized by the university to improve student integration) on students' academic engagement during their first term. Drawing on comparisons with workplace commitment (Solinger et al., 2013), the report describes different developmental paths of academic engagement: (1) Increasing academic engagement over time ('learning to love'); (2) Decreasing academic engagement over time ('honeymoon hangover'); (3) High, moderate or low stable academic engagement. These different paths or trajectories were found to correspond to differences in students’ grade point averages (GPAs) at the end of the first term. Weekly data on a random sample of 180 students were analyzed and it was found that relatively low levels of anticipatory stress predicted moderately stable or increasing levels of academic engagement over time; whereas students with higher levels of anticipatory stress were more likely to experience either stable low, stable high, or decreasing levels of academic engagement over time. Students who received early social support by instructors, such as receiving help, care for their well-being, and study-related recognition, were found to attain highly stable and increasing levels of academic engagement over time. Counterintuitively, students who participated in early socialization activities, such as welcome events organized by the university, were found to exhibit stable low or decreased levels of academic engagement over time. Finally, in terms of academic performance, a positive relationship was found between students’ receiving early social support from instructors and their GPAs, irrespectively of how their academic engagement evolved. In addition, students characterized by stable high, and increasing, levels of academic engagement over time, outperformed students characterized by a stable low, stable moderate, or decreasing levels of academic engagement over time. The findings carry both theoretical and practical implications for enhancing student engagement and learning potential for the following reasons: (1) The developmental paths of students' academic engagement are arguably the main drivers of their academic progress and differences in trajectory help to explain the close-to 75% of the observed variance in GPA; (2) Rather than very general early socialization activities, early social support from instructors is more important in determining students' academic success and whether their rate of progress will be highly stable, with increasing engagement over time; and (3) anticipatory stress is not necessarily bad for students’ academic engagement and success, if it is accompanied by sufficient support from instructors.

Keywords: academic engagement; student performance; anticipatory stress; social support; post-secondary education; process; latent-class growth model