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Study Finds Having A Voodoo Doll Of Your Boss Will Help You Make It Through The Day

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Anyone who's ever held down a job before knows that not everyone is guaranteed to get along in an office.

When you mix several different personality types and various tasks and responsibilities, chances are a conflict can arise.

But, what happens if the person you and your fellow co-workers have a problem with is your boss?

Not only will you be obligated to work in an uncomfortable environment for eight hours a day, anxiety and resentment will likely fester every time your superior comes your way.

But instead of losing your cool, and potentially your job, researchers have found a better way to release your anger, and it's all through a voodoo doll.

The Study

A recent study published in The Leadership Quarterly found that employees who felt mistreated in the workplace had their morale boosted after they participated in "symbolic retaliation" against their boss.

The research, which was led by Dr. Lindie Hanyu Liang, an assistant professor at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, looked at workers in the US and Canada and found that sticking pins in a voodoo doll of their supervisor lowered their feelings of injustice by one third.

"We found a simple and harmless symbolic act of retaliation can make people feel like they're getting even and restoring their sense of fairness," Liang The Telegraph.

Liang tested her theory by recruiting more than 400 people to participate in two separate experiments, which would see if acts of symbolic retaliation against their bosses would soothe their feelings of injustice in the workforce.

"Symbolically retaliating against an abusive boss can benefit employees psychologically."

In the first study, researchers asked more than 195 full-time employees to recall a past incident at work where they felt their superiors had treated them in an antagonistic manner, which included "being rude, making negative comments, or failing to acknowledge their hard work."

Following the flashback, the participants were directed to use an online voodoo doll program created by Dumb.com.

They were able to name the effigy after their boss, and then seek their revenge by sticking the doll with pins, burning it with a candle, and pinching it with pliers for a single minute.

Afterwards, the employees were given a fill-in-the-blank word exercise, where they revealed they felt better compared to others who didn't get to participate in the symbolic retaliation.

"We wanted to see, rather than actually retaliating against the abusive boss, whether mistreated employees could benefit from harmless acts of symbolic retaliation," Liang said.

In a followup experiment, the team looked at 206 business school students, which resulted in a similar outcome of having justice restored in the workplace.

They concluded that symbolic acts of retaliation can not only benefit an individual, but also augment the entire staff's morale, as it will improve their overall well-being and performance on the job.

"It may not have to be a voodoo doll per se: theoretically anything that serves as a symbolic act of retaliation, like throwing darts at a picture of your boss, might work," Liang explained.

"Symbolically retaliating against an abusive boss can benefit employees psychologically by allowing them to restore their sense of justice in the workplace."

[H/T: Science Alert, The Telegraph]

Have you ever used voodoo before? Tell us your story in the comments!

Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com