Humiliation at work – theoretical concepts and importance for the health of workers and the functioning of the organisation
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Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach / University of Silesia in Katowice, Katowice, Polska (Instytut Psychologii, Wydział Nauk Społecznych / Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences)
Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach / University of Silesia in Katowice, Katowice, Polska (Interdyscyplinarne Centrum Rozwoju Kadr Uniwersytetu Śląskiego / Interdisciplinary Centre for Staff Development of the University of Silesia)
Online publication date: 2020-10-16
Corresponding author
Aleksandra Żenda   

Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach, Instytut Psychologii, Wydział Nauk Społecznych, ul. Grażyńskiego 53, 40-126 Katowice
Med Pr 2021;72(1):61–68
Humiliation at work is a dangerous and, at the same time, poorly understood phenomenon. It is associated with an asymmetry of power, which induces in the humiliated person a feeling of having a lesser value and being inferior. It manifests itself as an internal event (judgment and emotions), an external event (an act of violence) or systemic social conditions (poverty and discrimination). Experiencing humiliation has negative consequences both when an individual becomes a subject and a witness of a humiliating event. These consequences concern many areas of an individual’s life and functioning within an organization. The article discusses the relationship between humiliation at the organizational level and work pathologies such as mobbing, intimidation, bullying, or harassment. Their purpose and effect is to humiliate an individual or a group of people, and since humiliation is associated with a sense of injustice and a desire for revenge, it often permanently disrupts the relationship between the parties and observers of such behaviors. Despite its individual and social significance, the phenomenon of humiliation is still a gap in the consideration of a healthy working environment and the relationship between people employed in the organization. Unlike in foreign literature, the phenomenon of humiliation is not a frequent subject of consideration in Polish studies, although interest has increased in recent years. The article proposes definitions of this phenomenon from 3 research perspectives, along with presenting selected concepts concerning the nature of this phenomenon and reports from research on the consequences of humiliating behavior at work, from the point of view of both an individual and an organization. Med Pr. 2021;72(1):61–8