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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 1019529, 12 pages
Research Article

Exposure to Workplace Bullying: The Role of Coping Strategies in Dealing with Work Stressors

1Research Group Occupational & Organisational Psychology and Professional Learning, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
2Research Centre for Work and Organisation Studies, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
3Knowledge, Information and Research Centre, IDEWE (External Service for Prevention and Protection at Work), Leuven, Belgium
4Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
5Environment and Health, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Correspondence should be addressed to Whitney Van den Brande

Received 15 May 2017; Revised 4 August 2017; Accepted 17 October 2017; Published 15 November 2017

Academic Editor: Silvia Pignata

Copyright © 2017 Whitney Van den Brande et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Studies investigating both work- and individual-related antecedents of workplace bullying are scarce. In reply, this study investigated the interaction between workload, job insecurity, role conflict, and role ambiguity (i.e., work-related antecedents), and problem- and emotion-focused coping strategies (i.e., individual-related antecedents) in association with exposure to workplace bullying. Problem-focused coping strategies were hypothesised to decrease (i.e., buffer) the associations between workload, job insecurity, role conflict, and role ambiguity and exposure to bullying, while emotion-focused coping strategies were hypothesised to increase (i.e., amplify) these associations. Results for a heterogeneous sample ( = 3,105) did not provide evidence for problem-focused coping strategies as moderators. As expected, some emotion-focused coping strategies amplified the associations between work-related antecedents and bullying: employees using “focus on and venting of emotions” or “behavioural disengagement” in dealing with job insecurity, role conflict, or role ambiguity were more likely to be exposed to bullying. Similarly, “seeking social support for emotional reasons” and “mental disengagement” amplified the associations of role ambiguity and the associations of both role conflict and role ambiguity, respectively. To prevent bullying, organisations may train employees in tempering emotion-focused coping strategies, especially when experiencing job insecurity, role conflict, or role ambiguity.