Five minutes with…Peter Jordan

Professor Peter Jordan
Professor Peter Jordan examines what makes a workplace happy

WOW’s Deputy Director, Professor Peter Jordan, researches how emotions impact on people’s behaviour at work. Why? He just finds it interesting to understand why people behave and react as they do because in his opinion, emotions will be behind most of it! Paying him to do this is a bonus, Peter adds, because it certainly raises his level of positive emotion! We spent five minutes with Peter to learn a little more….

Are there ongoing or emerging trends in your field/s of research?

A lot of work has been done on how moods, particularly positive and negative moods impact on how individuals behave and perform at work. More recently there has been a focus on examining specific emotions such as anger and fear and pride and enthusiasm and how they impact on performance. There has also been acknowledgement that emotions are contagious and therefore there is a growing interest in looking at emotions in teams and the development of emotional tone in teams.

Has there been major developments or key findings that have directed the trajectory of your research?

Probably one of the significant developments in the field is that both positive and negative emotions are needed in organisations. While the benefits of positive emotions such as enthusiasm are clear, negative emotions also have a role. Emotions such as anger can tell us something about justice in organisations while fear may be an indication of uncertainty.

What are you working on at the moment?

The work I am doing at present falls into three groups. I am working with others to look at the impact of anger in the workplace and writing up a number of studies we conducted over the last few years. I am also starting a new project on fear at work and seeking funding for this project. We are in the early stages of this project. Finally, a new interest for me is the area of employee entitlement and employee’s perceptions of what they deserve at work. There seems to be a growing phenomenon where workers and managers believe their benefits and remuneration should not be linked to performance, but rather to the personal characteristics they bring to the workplace. I am currently exploring the effect of entitlement perceptions on people’s behaviour at work.

Finally, are there challenges in your field/s in trying to bridge the gap between research, practice and policy?

Researching emotions, it is difficult not to bridge the gap between research and practice. Everyone has emotions and we don’t just switch them off because we are at work. Indeed, sometimes emotions are enhanced at work. Most employees care about what they do and so they have to deal with their feelings at work all the time. Research on emotions helps us understand these reactions and provides practical solutions for dealing with emotions at work.