The impact of a leaders’ language use in a positive and negative performance appraisal on employees’ psychological state, and the moderating role of organization-based self-esteem.

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Previous studies have found that leadership may play a role in work-related stress and work-related wellbeing among employees. Leadership styles and leadership in general, but also communication is considered as crucial aspect and may influence employees’ psychological state. Despite this, there is still a lack of research into the specific impact of leadership communication on employees’ health. Particular communicative aspects, such as subtle language variations like affirmations and negations, have been earlier investigated in doctor-patient communication. It is found that small linguistic variations in breaking bad news (negative frame) can positively influence patients’ state of mind. In a positive frame, it was found that rather affirmations have a favorable effect. To date, the power of language variations has not been investigated in an organizational context. For this reason and because of the findings in health communication, the current study investigates the impact of negations or affirmations during a performance appraisal, on employees’ psychological state. However, also personal resources appear to play a role in employees’ state of mind and therefore the moderating role of organization-based self-esteem (OBSE) was taken into account. For this research, a 2x2 experiment, including a combination of negations and affirmations (language variations) and positive and negative framing (framing), has been set up. The experiment included four experimental conditions, existing of four different versions of texts describing a performance appraisal of a leader with an employee. The data was analyzed through several multiple regression analyses models including interactions. The results of this research show a significant main interaction effect of language variations and framing on the work-related stress (B = -.68, p = .008) and work-related wellbeing (B = .73, p = .036). In a positive frame, the findings show that negations lead to a higher level of work-related stress (B= -.62, p = .001) and to a lower level of work-related wellbeing (B = .91, p
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