Emotion and offices at work
Department of Psychology, University of Liverpool
Emotions are an important yet neglected area of organizational and work psychology. As Fineman (1993a) has noted, when work on organizations is looked at in detail, the people are presented as emotionally anorexic.
They have “dissatisfactions” and “satisfactions”, they may be “alienated” or
“stressed”, they will have “preferences”, “attitudes” and “interests” … we find
little or no mention of how feeling individuals worry, envy, brood, become bored,
play, despair, plot, hate, hurt, and so forth.
(Fineman, 1993a, pp. 9–10)
The same can be said of the majority of studies looking at office designs and their relationship to the people that work in them.
Office environments are not a popular topic of research within mainstream organizational and work psychology; the field's leading UK periodical, the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, has carried only one article (Donald, 1994a) on office environments in the last 20 years. Closely related disciplines such as engineering psychology, ergonomics or human factors, pay more attention to the environment, but are even more likely to neglect emotion. Textbooks on organizational and work psychology show a similar picture to journals, typically limiting the extent of the domain to ergonomics and equipment design (e.g. Arnold, Cooper, & Robertson, 1998).
Environmental psychologists as a group have, on the whole, been ahead of work and organizational psychologists in putting emotions on their theoretical and research agenda (cf. Russell & Snodgrass, 1987). Unfortunately, those