Promotive and Prohibitive Ethical Voice: Coworker Emotions and Support for the Voice

Anjier Chen, Linda K. Trevi˜no

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Despite the importance of ethical voice for advancing ethics in organizations, we know little about how coworkers respond to ethical voice in their work units. Drawing on the fundamental approach/avoidance behavioral system and the promotive and prohibitive distinction in the voice literature, we distinguish between promotive and prohibitive ethical voice and propose that they engender different emotions— elevation (an approach-oriented moral emotion) and feelings of threat (an avoidance-oriented emotion), respectively, in coworkers. We propose that these emotions differentially influence coworker subsequent responses to the ethical voice behavior. In a time-lagged critical incident survey and two experimental studies, we consistently found support for our hypothesis that promotive ethical voice elicits moral elevation in coworkers with subsequent coworker verbal support for the ethical voice (an approach-oriented response). However, results for prohibitive ethical voice were more complex because prohibitive ethical voice leads to mixed emotions in coworkers. It sometimes leads to feelings of threat, with indirect negative effects via threat on coworker support. But surprisingly, it also leads to coworker elevation and hence can have positive indirect effects via elevation on coworker support. We will discuss the research and practical implications of these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1973-1994
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 6 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


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