Browsing Away From Rude Emails: Effects of Daily Active and Passive Email Incivility on Employee Cyberloafing

Zhiqing E. Zhou, Shani Pindek, Ethan J. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increasing prevalence of information communication technologies (e.g., computers, smartphones, and the internet) has made the experience of email incivility and the engagement in cyberloafing more common in the workplace. In this present study, we examined how experiencing email incivility at work can positively predict employees’ cyberloafing. Based on affective events theory, we examined negative emotions as a mediator and trait prevention focus and daily workload as moderators. With daily diary data collected twice per day over 10 workdays from 113 full-time employees, we found that morning passive email incivility positively predicted afternoon cyberloafing via midday negative emotions while morning active email incivility did not. Further, trait prevention focus significantly moderated the relationship between active email incivility and negative emotions while daily workload significantly moderated the relationship between passive email incivility and negative emotions. The findings of the present study contribute to a deeper understanding of how employees’ negative experiences affect their deviant behaviors in the virtual world

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-515
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Occupational Health Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors have no known conflict of interest to disclose. This study was supported by PSC-CUNY grant (#63275-00-51) from the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. A previous version of this article was presented at the 2022 Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Annual Meeting

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Psychological Association


  • Affective events theory
  • Cyberloafing
  • Email incivility
  • Trait prevention focus
  • Workload
  • Employment
  • Humans
  • Incivility/prevention & control
  • Electronic Mail
  • Workplace/psychology
  • Interpersonal Relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Applied Psychology


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