Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations


But We're Here to Help! Positive Buffers of the Relationship between Victim Incivility and Employee Outcomes in Firefighters

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Steve Jex, PhD (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Mike Zickar, PhD (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Anne Gordon, PhD (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Karen Sirum, PhD (Committee Member)


Incivility is becoming increasingly recognized as an important workplace stressor, having been linked to a variety of negative workplace outcomes. Research on incivility has primarily investigated this phenomenon as originating from coworkers, customers, and patients in hospitals/hospices. However, there is little research examining incivility originating from a victim-or the family and friends of this victim-of an emergency situation. Specifically, there is no research examining how victim incivility might affect the emergency service employees. The current study sought to fill this gap in the research by defining and examining the impact of victim incivility on firefighters. The current study additionally sought to identify positive psychological buffers of the relationship between victim incivility and its outcomes. Specifically, trait empathy and work engagement were both examined as potential moderators of this relationship. The results showed that victim incivility predicted exhaustion, physical symptoms, and absenteeism. Additionally, both engagement and empathy buffered some negative outcomes, although empathy actually exacerbated the negative effects of victim incivility on absenteeism. The theoretical and practical implications of the current study are discussed, and areas for future research are proposed.