Applying adaptation theory to understand experienced incivility processes: Testing the repeated exposure hypothesis.

Experienced workplace incivility has consistently been linked to a host of negative outcomes, but as a low-intensity behavior, most working adults should be able to adapt and move on from these experiences of incivility over time. On the basis of repeated measures data from a heterogeneous sample of 625 respondents across three waves, with a 1-month lag between assessments, and framed within adaptation theory, we propose and find strong empirical evidence that although incivility is concurrently related to 5 indices related to both positive and negative employee well-being (i.e., role overload, affective commitment, subjective well-being, burnout, and turnover intentions), working adults adapt to these experiences over time. However, in considering the unfolding of incivility over time, we also make a meaningful contribution and extension to adaptation theory, a theory wherein little consideration has been given to stressors that may be recurring over time. We propose and test the repeated exposure hypothesis as a framework for conceptualizing how past (distal) experiences of a stressor can indirectly influence strain outcomes via more proximal experiences of the stressor. We also provide preliminary evidence that indices of well-being have systematic lagged effects on incivility, supporting the argument for reverse causation over time between the constructs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)