In this study, the employee’s response to a negative evaluation is
analyzed. The fact of receiving feedback often puts the employee in front of
disparate psychological mechanisms, contrasting emotions that are difficult to
predict ex-ante. In particular, the
topic of work focuses on the analysis of reactions for negative feedback,
especially from male employees.
Often, in response to negative feedback, the employee can have a crying
reaction. Crying is often an underestimated response, especially in the
workplace. The paper wants to understand the mechanism underlying the feedback
from the evaluator to the employee, the reaction of the employee (especially if
it is explored with crying) and the behavioral process of the evaluator after
having seen the reaction of the employee affected by feedback. Everything is
brought on an exponential level if the crying employee is a man. What derives
from the behavior of a worker in response to feedback can lead the evaluator to
modify the employee’s perception. Moreover, in response to feedback, what for a
working-woman is defined as “socially acceptable”, often for a man is not (and
vice versa). An example of all is the fact of crying. For a woman it is even
advisable to cry to let off steam because of negative feedback; for a man,
already at a childish age, crying is not considered acceptable or at least
Specifically, the evaluator, faced with the employee’s crying in
response to feedback, will also modify the employee’s assessment processes
regarding leadership skills.
All the theoretical structure of the study is based on role congruity theory:
in general, the common sense wants that the role between man and woman poles
apart. Society, like the working environment, which is contaminated by the game
of roles, in which the “socially adaptable” is evaluated to the extent that a
person plays his part.
This therefore entails a degree of prejudice towards the behavior of the
other person, which is expressed in true discrimination when atypical behavior
occurs. According to the theoretical perspective of the study, atypical
behaviors or in line with the role played by the other sex (gentle man / woman
leader) are always penalizing. For all this, the reaction of a man who cries
then violates the fundamental pillars of the role congruity theory. Crying men
are considered abnormal because they differ significantly from typical patterns
When an employee receives negative performance feedback, the indirect
effect of the employee crying on performance evaluation, leadership ability
assessments and the tone of the recommendation letter through perceived
typicality is moderated by the gender of the employees in such a way that the
indirect effect is significant only when the male employee is crying.
Quality of supporting evidence
The study is different from previous studies, even the guidelines that
runs through the work address the prejudice, in response to an atypical
behavior, in specific cases, against men in the workplace; which in previous
studies was only dealt with on the woman’s side.
The discriminatory behavior of this study is dealt with in many areas
and contexts, highlighting how socially atypical and unacceptable behavior for
a gender is a cause of prejudice, bullying, and loneliness. The negative
effects are particularly strong when a gender acts in line with the
expectations of the role of the other sex.
the context of performance feedback, we expect that supervisors who perceive
atypical behavior in response to negative performance feedback will be
prevented against the employee, thus generating assessments against the
employees themselves. On the wrong day, when the
feedback’s particularly upsetting, it may even bring the workers to tears. If
this happens to a male worker, according to this research, it could spell bad news
for his career prospects. The research was conducted among 169 employed adults in
the US, with an average age of 32, and presented them a 6-minute video with
several different versions which included a performance evaluation of a grocery
store manager named Pat: representing both male and female roles. Observers had
to picture themselves as the supervisor. According to the script Pat hasn’t
been a good employee in the recent past. He has been rude at work, late for
work, and had declining sales. Some versions of the video, was really emotional
where they got tears due to the feedback.
who saw the female version of Pat had no serious emotional feelings towards
Pat’s behavior and had no tears. However, the participants who saw the male version
of Pat, had tears and gave him low rates.
Gender analysis is the key to reading the article.
Everything that the community thinks “normal” then is also socially acceptable,
and vice versa. Absolutely acceptable behavior does not exist; everything is
filtered through the lenses of social prejudice, so as to isolate in quarantine
the one who takes possession of unusual behaviors or emotions in the eyes of
the role congruence theory.
There is therefore an interaction between gender and
type of emotion that can be seen publicly. If such interaction is modified by
unexpected or unjustified behavior at the social level, he or she who has had
this reaction will be substantially negatively evaluated for the rest of the
stay in the place where he exhibited such behavior.
After the video was shown, participants were asked to draft a
recommendation letter for Pat in order to find employment. They received many
positive thoughts and comments on Pat even though he had bad qualities and
habits as an employee. On the other hand, participants who saw the crying
version of Pat commented and gave negative feedbacks for crying in public and
showing his weakness. And the discussion suggests that men crying in public
shows how emotional they get and suggests how men should be more confident with
different situations they undergo in life. It also points out how women act
strong in such scenarios where they are usually tender and emotional.
In conclusion, crying publicly is a sign of weakness and vulnerability:
all that we are not inclined to see or perceive, according to the stereotypes
of our society (role congruity theory) turns out to be strange, atypical and
unjustifiable. The act of crying in a man at the same time violates all these
“socially respectable” congruities, making sure that the man who performs the
crying action is judged strange and, at that point, all the assessments on his
account are replaced or changed radically.
The experiment was carried out, as seen, in a working experimentation
contest. It is important, in my opinion, to try to change the experimentation
environment and see if in real life the results of the work can be replicated
with the same intensity.