Motivation and Emotion

, 33:387 | Cite as

Personality trait scores among occupationally active bullied persons and witnesses to bullying

  • Roger Persson
  • Annie Hogh
  • Åse-Marie Hansen
  • Catarina Nordander
  • Kerstina Ohlsson
  • Istvan Balogh
  • Kai Österberg
  • Palle Ørbæk
Original Paper


There is little research on the personalities and emotional stability of persons who report being bullied or witnessing bullying at work. Men and women (N = 247) from 19 to 64 years of age and in manual labour completed a questionnaire concerning the psychosocial work climate, bullying and personality. Three groups were defined: bullied (N = 14), witnesses (N = 31) and non-bullied respondents (N = 202). The Swedish universities Scale of Personality was used to assess personality traits related to the three major dimensions of neuroticism, extraversion, and aggressiveness. Bullied persons had higher scores on all six scales within the neuroticism dimension as well as higher irritability (aggressiveness dimension) and impulsiveness scores (extraversion dimension), when compared with their non-bullied work colleagues. To conclude, bullied persons display a self-image that is dominated by mistrust and embitterment as well as irritability and impulsiveness. Accordingly, when dealing with bullying at work, the need for ego-supportive actions should be considered in conjunction with more organisational, collective oriented action.


Aggressiveness Anxiety Extraversion Harassment Job content questionnaire Work environment 



This study was supported by grants from the Swedish Medical Research Council, the Swedish Council for Work Life and Social Research, AFA insurance, the Medical Faculty of Lund University, and the County Councils of Southern Sweden. Ms. Lothy Granquist and Ms. Anita Ohlsson, are acknowledged for their efforts in collecting data and other assistance. Secretary Bodil Holst and senior researcher Bryan Cleal provided instructive lingual remarks. The cooperation of participants is also gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger Persson
    • 1
  • Annie Hogh
    • 2
  • Åse-Marie Hansen
    • 1
  • Catarina Nordander
    • 3
  • Kerstina Ohlsson
    • 3
  • Istvan Balogh
    • 3
  • Kai Österberg
    • 3
  • Palle Ørbæk
    • 1
  1. 1.National Research Centre for the Working EnvironmentCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Division of Occupational and Environmental MedicineLund UniversityLundSweden

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