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Title: Cleansing my abuse : a reparative response model of perpetrating abusive supervisor behavior
Authors: Liao, ZY
Yam, KC
Johnson, RE
Liu, W 
Song, ZL
Issue Date: Sep-2018
Source: Journal of applied psychology, Sept. 2018, v. 103, no. 9, p. 1039-1056
Abstract: Research on abusive supervision has predominantly focused on the consequences for victims while overlooking how leaders respond to their own abusive behavior. Drawing from the literature on moral cleansing, we posit that supervisors who engage in abusive behavior may paradoxically engage in more constructive leadership behaviors subsequently as a result of feeling guilty and perceiving loss of moral credits. Results from two experience sampling studies show that, within leaders on a daily basis, perpetrating abusive supervisor behavior led to an increase in experienced guilt and perceived loss of moral credits, which in turn motivated leaders to engage in more constructive person-oriented (consideration) and task-oriented (initiating structure) leadership behaviors. In addition, leader moral attentiveness and moral courage strengthen these indirect effects by amplifying leaders’ awareness of their immoral behavior and their willingness and determination to make reparations for such behavior. Our research contributes to the theoretical understanding of leaders’ responses toward their own abusive supervisor behavior and provides insights into how and when destructive leadership behaviors may, paradoxically, trigger more constructive behaviors.
Keywords: Leadership
Abusive supervisor behavior
Moral attentiveness
Moral courage
Moral credits
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Journal: Journal of applied psychology 
ISSN: 1072-5245
DOI: 10.1037/apl0000319
Rights: ©American Psychological Association, 2018. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
The following publication Liao, Z., Yam, K. C., Johnson, R. E., Liu, W., & Song, Z. (2018). Cleansing my abuse : A reparative response model of perpetrating abusive supervisor behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 103(9), 1039-1056 is available at
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