Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Operations & Information Management

First Advisor

Maurice E. Schweitzer

Abstract

At work, sources of anxiety abound. Individuals worry about the quality of their work, their job security, and impressing their bosses. At the same time, many managers induce anxiety, incidentally or deliberately, in an effort to motivate their employees. Until now, the study of anxiety in organizations has been surprisingly sparse. Previous anxiety research has focused on anxiety as a personality trait. In contrast, I focus on state anxiety, an unpleasant emotional state triggered by novelty and the potential for adverse consequences, which has profound effects on cognition and behavior.

Across three chapters, I examine the intrapersonal experience and interpersonal effects of state anxiety. Using a variety of methods, including survey, archival, and experimental data, I test the influence of anxiety on negotiations, advice taking, emotional reappraisal, and high-pressure performance. In Chapter 1, I find that anxious negotiators tend to make low first offers, exit prematurely, and ultimately obtain worse outcomes. In Chapter 2, I find that feeling anxious leads individuals to rely more heavily on advice, even when the advice is obviously bad. These effects are mediated by low self-efficacy; Feeling anxious lowers self-efficacy, which causes negotiators to exit negotiations and causes individuals to rely more heavily on others' advice. Finally, in Chapter 3, I investigate a counterintuitive strategy to contend with the harmful effects of anxiety: reappraising anxiety as excitement. I find that, compared to the intuition to calm down or reduce anxiety, reappraising pre-performance anxiety as excitement primes an opportunity mindset (as opposed to a threat mindset) and improves subsequent performance across public and private performance tasks.

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