Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Management (Business Administration)

Document Type



This dissertation explores theoretical links among interpersonal, perceptual, and situational variables and sensitivity about being the target of threatening upward comparisons (STTUC) within a workplace setting. It also investigates affective and behavioral responses outperformers may enact to decrease effects thought to be associated with STTUC. Because of the novelty of investigating STTUC in a field sample, the actual nature of the relationships among STTUC and the focal study variables were examined in multiple ways. Specifically, workplace outperformers’ interpersonal sensitivity, empathic concern, and competitive psychological climate, along with actual threat experienced by the outperformed, were all expected to increase the likelihood that outperformers would experience STTUC, and STTUC was, in turn, expected to result in the use of appeasement and avoidance behaviors, propensity for socially motivated underachievement, and decreased preference for public recognition. Additionally, direct linkages between the antecedents and consequences were expected, as well as post-hoc hypotheses predicting these direct relationships would actually be moderated by STTUC. Results suggested empathic concern, competitive psychological climate, and threat experienced by the outperformed were antecedents to STTUC and had direct relationships with many of the study’s consequences. STTUC was not found to be directly related to the study’s consequences, but it did serve as a moderating variable for the relationships between the antecedents interpersonal sensitivity, empathic concern, and threat and several of the consequences. These results provide researchers and practitioners with insights into which factors influence outperformers’ STTUC, as well as highlight the important role STTUC plays in determining outperformers’ reactions to being upward comparison targets.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Arthur G. Bedeian



Included in

Business Commons