Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 339-345

First online:

Expecting the Worst: Moderating Effects of Social Cynicism on the Relationships Between Relationship Conflict and Negative Affective Reactions

  • Fuli LiAffiliated withSchool of Management, University of Science and Technology of ChinaDepartment of Management, City University of Hong KongCenter for Business Studies, School of Management, Xi’an Jiaotong University Email author 
  • , Fan ZhouAffiliated withSchool of Management, Zhejiang University Email author 
  • , Kwok LeungAffiliated withDepartment of Management, City University of Hong Kong

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Social cynicism, defined as negative beliefs about people and social institutions, shows negative impact on people’s affective reactions. We extended this line of work by testing the moderating effects of social cynicism on the relationships between relationship conflict and its affective consequences.


The data were collected using a computer-assisted random telephone survey method (N = 572).


As expected, social cynicism and relationship conflict were related negatively to job satisfaction and life satisfaction, but positively to intention to quit. More importantly, the negative relationships between relationship conflict and job satisfaction and life satisfaction, and the positive relationship between relationship conflict and intention to quit were not significant when social cynicism was high.


Our findings suggest that social cynicism is like a two-edged sword. Social cynicism is not only correlated with a range of negative attitudes and reactions, but also able to cushion people from the negative effects of relationship conflict on affective reactions.


This study is among the first to examine the moderating role of social cynicism. Interestingly, social cynicism played a mitigating role on the relationships between relationship conflict and negative affective reactions.


Social cynicism Relationship conflict Affective reactions Job satisfaction Life satisfaction Intention to quit