Comparing Younger and Older Workers’ Visual Attention and Responses to Intergenerational Workplace Conflicts : An Eye Tracking Study

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (no ISBN/ISSN)

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Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPresented - Jul 2018

Conference

Title25th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISBD 2018)
LocationGold Coast
PlaceAustralia
CityQueensland
Period15 - 19 July 2018

Abstract

Background: With baby boomers continue to stay in the workforce, today's employees are increasingly likely to work and interact with employees from other age groups. Because of age and cohort differences in work values and attitudes (Twenge et al., 2010), intergenerational conflicts are not uncommon in the workplace. The findings of past studies suggest that reactions to workplace conflict may vary according to the age of the employee and the age group of the conflict partner (Fingerman et al., 2008; Yeung, Fung, & Chan, 2015). This paper therefore aims to investigate the underlying mechanism of the age-related differences in emotional and behavioral responses to intergenerational conflict in the workplace.

Method: An eye tracking study was conducted to compare visual attentional patterns of 120 older and younger workers when they watched hypothetical intergenerational conflict videos. Four hypothetical workplace conflict videos were shown to each participant, with two videos portraying intergenerational conflicts and the other two depicting non-intergenerational conflicts. The main character in each video is matched with the age group and gender of the participant. The hypothetical conflict was about dissatisfaction with the work-related behaviors of a coworker. The participant's affective responses and conflict strategies were also assessed after each video clip.

Results & Discussion: Preliminary data analyses of 78 working adults (including 39 younger and 39 older workers) showed that when experiencing an intergenerational conflict, older workers fixated less on the face of the conflict partner [t(76) = 2.833, p = .006] and other negative lookzones during the video clips [t(76) = 2.158, p = .034] than did younger workers. There were also significant age effects on negative emotional responses to workplace conflict [t(76) = 2.522, p = .014] and passive conflict strategies [t(76) = 2.016, p = .047]. The sequential mediation analysis revealed that the positive effect of age on passive conflict strategies [β = .025, BootstrapSE = .022, BootstrapCI = .001 - .112] was significant through paying less attention to the face of the conflict partner and experiencing more positive affect. The negative effect of age on competitive strategies was mainly mediated by negative responses [β = -.169, BootstrapSE =.119, BootstrapCI = -.499 - -.009]. In support of the modal model of emotion (Gross, 2015), the findings of this study reveal that the age differences in conflict strategies could partly be explained by attentional pattern to emotional information and affective responses to the conflict incident.

Bibliographic Note

Information for this record is supplemented by the author(s) concerned.

Citation Format(s)

Comparing Younger and Older Workers’ Visual Attention and Responses to Intergenerational Workplace Conflicts : An Eye Tracking Study. / Yeung, Dannii; Lam, Wing Yee; Isaacowitz, Derek; Ye, Jiawen.

2018. Paper presented at 25th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISBD 2018), Queensland, Australia.

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (no ISBN/ISSN)