Individuals are always sensitive to their relative standing in interpersonal comparison processes of leader-member exchanges (LMXs) in teams. Little research, however, has investigated whether coworkers with a higher LMX influence the emotional and behavioral reactions of individuals with a lower LMX in different dyads. Drawing on social comparison theory and the symbolic model of procedural justice (PJ) climate, we conducted 2 independent studies-an experimental study focusing on the self-perceived upward LMX comparison (i.e., an individual perceives that a coworker's LMX is higher than the LMX that he or she has with the supervisor; N = 203; Study 1: American working adults) and a field survey study focusing on the other-perceived downward LMX comparison (i.e., a coworker perceives that his or her own LMX is higher than the LMX that the individual has with the supervisor; N = 177; Study 2: Chinese software engineers). Results from these studies consistently revealed that a coworker's higher LMX elicits an individual's hostile emotions when the PJ climate is low but that this relationship is buffered when the PJ climate is high. Results of both studies also showed that the coworker's higher LMX arouses the individual to direct harmful behavior toward that coworker (via the individual's feelings of hostility) when the PJ climate is low but not when it is high.
- Coworker dyads
- Interpersonal hostility and harming
- Leader-member exchange (LMX) comparison
- Procedural justice climate