How Does Employees’ Behavior Change How We Feel About their Organization? Transfer of Affective Impressions between Employees and Organizations


Stable impressions of how good, powerful, and active an organization is may be jointly shared with their employees, yet the impression produced by employees' behavior may be transferred back to the organization. Our first studies shows that stable impressions, or sentiments, of organizations (e.g., a library) are fairly similar to those of their employees (e.g., an employee of a library), with organizations viewed as more powerful and morally extreme than their employees. Our principal studies along with affect control theory simulations show how the impressions created by an employee's behavior toward a customer (e.g., an employee of a library shouts at a customer) transfer to the employee's organization. Affect control theory simulations predict the impressions of an organization as well as they predict impressions of the individual employee. Regression and classification analyses give support to impression transfer, with the most transfer occurring for evaluation impressions, and more so for transferring bad impressions rather than good ones. Therefore, this research shows how a single behavior by a rank-and-file employee can shape outsider's impressions of organizations and the potential for applying affect control theory predictions to impressions of organizations.


Psychological Science

Publication Status

In Press, Corrected Proof


Army Research Laboratory, Grant W911NF-14-2-0034

Keywords and Phrases

Affect; Affect Control Theory; Impressions; Organizations; Representatives; Sentiments

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2022 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

12 Mar 2022