Article | Research in Organizational Behavior | 2009

Implicit Affect in Organizations

by Sigal G. Barsade, Lakshmi Ramarajan and Drew Westen

Abstract

Our goal is to integrate the construct of implicit affect—affective processes activated or processed outside of conscious awareness that influence ongoing thought, behavior, and conscious emotional experience—into the field of organizational behavior. We begin by offering a definition and review of implicit processes, including implicit cognition, motivation and affect. We then draw upon recent empirical research in psychology and neuroscience to make the case for a three category framework of implicit affect: (1) implicit sources of affect (2) implicit experiencing of affect and (3) implicit regulation of affect. To demonstrate the use of this framework in organizational scholarship, we present illustrative examples from organizational behavior research that represent each category. Given the limited amount of research in the organizational domain, we focus on demonstrating how an implicit affect perspective might alter or extend theoretical perspectives about a variety of organizational phenomena. We then discuss methodological options and challenges for studying implicit affect within the organizational domain. In sum, we provide a theoretical and methodological roadmap as well as a call for action for understanding the role of implicit affective processes in organizational behavior.

Keywords: Framework; Business Processes; Mission and Purpose; Organizational Culture; Problems and Challenges; Research; Behavior; Cognition and Thinking; Emotions; Motivation and Incentives; Perspective;

Citation:

Barsade, Sigal G., Lakshmi Ramarajan, and Drew Westen. "Implicit Affect in Organizations." Research in Organizational Behavior 29 (2009).