Industrial Psychiatry Journal

: 2015  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 119--124

Model of yoga intervention in industrial organizational psychology for counterproductive work behavior

Umesh C Dwivedi, Sony Kumari, HR Nagendra 
 Department of Yoga and Management Studies, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Umesh C Dwivedi
IRIS – L/204, Magarpatta City, Pune - 411 013, Maharashtra


Counterproductive work behavior (CWB) has long been recognized as a broad spectrum of job behaviors and its link with negative affectivity and hostile behaviors. It is a major concern practically for all organizations. Repeated exposure to workplace stressor can result in a strain, an outcome of the job stress process that can be psychological, physical, or behavioral in nature, leading to CWBs. Yoga is a technique that brings an improvement on mental and physical level by means of posture, breathing control methods, and silencing the mind through meditation. Though yoga has received less scientific consideration, there has been a significant growth in the study of yoga in the healthy population. Mindfulness and self-control practices like yoga encourage individuals to be aware and accept their aggression linked thoughts and emotions simply as a short-lived state rather than to control them. The positive effects of yoga on the improvement of personality traits are already proven. This paper introduces a simple model of cost-effective, trials of yoga intervention at the workplace which could result in the twin benefits of substantial savings from losses for the employers by reducing the CWB and health improvements for the employees by reducing the negative affectivity and aggression. Internet databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, and APA PsycNET were accessed. The available data were systematically reviewed in a structured manner and analyzed.

How to cite this article:
Dwivedi UC, Kumari S, Nagendra H R. Model of yoga intervention in industrial organizational psychology for counterproductive work behavior.Ind Psychiatry J 2015;24:119-124

How to cite this URL:
Dwivedi UC, Kumari S, Nagendra H R. Model of yoga intervention in industrial organizational psychology for counterproductive work behavior. Ind Psychiatry J [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Sep 28 ];24:119-124
Available from:

Full Text

Every organization has goals and mission. Counterproductive work behavior (CWB) is an employee behavior that goes against these goals. CWBs have been defined as any intentional behavior of working individual that organization find against its real interest.[1] It includes actions such as sabotage, theft, suppression of effort, verbal abuse, physical assault, hiding, and disinterest in the cooperation.[2] Over the years, similar kinds of behavior movements are studied under different names: Workplace deviance, organizational delinquency, organization encouraged aggression, antisocial behavior in organizations, and workplace aggression.[3],[4],[5],[6] Counterproductive actions at work comprise of both minor and severe activities. Minor behaviors could be spreading rumors, gossiping, avoiding work, inappropriate internet or printer usage, and littering. In case of more severe behaviors, it could be damaging the resources, harassment, and acts of physical harm or violence. As per the studies conducted earlier, personality characteristics of an individual demonstrated significant and meaningful relation with deviant behaviors at work.[7],[8],[9] In the current literature review, a web based search of all relevant literature was done. Search engines such as PubMed, Google Scholar, APA PsycNET, etc., were used to extract the relevant articles. Keywords used were CWB, workplace deviance, negative affectivity, aggression, hostility, and yoga. After obtaining essential literature, findings were analyzed, and prominent feature were compiled for the review.

 Counterproductive Work Behavior

Many studies have been conducted to understand the impact and correlation of other parameters contributing to CWB. Low self-control capacities have been projected as a reason of CWB because self-control depends on a finite energy resource within the individual that gets impacted by different stressors.[10] Self-control halts as energy resources go down and an individual's behavior can become more self-centered, reactive, and antisocial.[11] Obsolete employees showed a higher probability of committing CWB when compared against the nonobsolete employees.[12] In addition, there are significant positive relationships between perceived organizational constraints with the total counterproductive behavior and its dimensions.[13] In terms of CWB, such as gossip activity at the workplace does not vary significantly by gender, age, and other demographic elements. Therefore, one solution and measurement can work to resolve any kind of political deviance.[14]

Interpersonal CWB is triggered because of psychological issues such as stress, emotions, mood, etc., faced by employees. Stress comes as a first parameter among others. Other study says that work stressors and CWB have reciprocal effects on each other.[15] The results have revealed the fact that the organizational climate plays a moderating role for the relation between the intention to quit and work stressors.[16] The attitude toward the interpersonal relation plays a big role here. Organizational CWB is normally induced by the culture, climate, policies, and environment of an organization. When employees get the sense that they are not being treated equally, and their job is on stake, they get involved in more fraud cases.[17]

 Negative Affectivity and Counterproductive Work Behavior

Negative affectively (NA) is defined as the degree to which individuals experience aversive emotional states.[18] NA as a personality variable at work is important for an individual who experiences it and might also be problematic for his or her co-workers. NA research and theory also suggest that the individuals and organizations could benefit by identifying it, understanding it, utilizing it, and also buffering against its potential ill effects within the teams and groups. Positive affect has been related to the social interest and sociability, while NA has been associated with the psychosomatic symptoms, anxiety, poor role adjustment, and worries. The different negative emotions prompt different forms of actions. For example, anger can make people to attempt attack while fear can make running away from the situation. High NA can include feeling anger, contempt, guilt, fear, and nervousness and has been suggested as a major feature of depression and anxiety.

NA has been shown to moderate the relationship between the interpersonal conflict and CWB. Employees high on NA are more likely to possess a hostile attribution style, and the tendency to make hostile attributions may lead to the increased conflict, anger, and aggression for high NA individuals.[19] It is found that NA moderated the relationship between organizational constraints and personal CWB as well. Individuals high in negative affectivity, under high job stress, are likely to perform more CWBs. NA also plays a moderating role for the relation between organizational constraints, workplace conflict and CWB.[20]

Emotional disagreement occurs when an employee is made to express his or her emotion which is basically not expressed in that particular situation. It acts as a stressor that is associated with emotional pressure and job dissatisfaction. Excessive emotional demands are responsible for burnout which may further lead to other issues.[21] NA is bidirectional conflict contributor for work and family that means work interferences with family and family interferences with work. It was found that NA indirectly affected the conflict when job stress or family stresses are present.[22] In addition, the same study found that the family stress was directly proportional to the conflict with individual having elevated NA than for low NA individuals.

 Aggression and Counterproductive Work Behavior

Individuals with a strong tendency to attribute the hostile intent have a higher incidence of workplace aggression than those with a weaker tendency to make hostile attributions. Also, with low self-control, individuals are unable to effectively manage their frustrations. Instead, they lose their self-consciousness by reacting impulsively or aggressively to situations which can be provoking.[8] Buss and Perry [23] defined anger as the emotional or affective component of aggression that involves the physiological arousal and preparation for aggression and hostility as the cognitive component of aggression which consists of feelings of ill-will and injustice.

Individuals are implicitly ready to engage in some form of aggressive behavior now and in the future.[24],[25] Personality researchers have also frequently used aggression interchangeably with anger and hostility. Research has shown that these variables are strongly correlated with one another and lead to the similar underlying concept.[26] Buss and Perry [23] identified three overlapping types of aggression: Physical-verbal, active-passive, and direct-indirect.

Aggressive behavior was found to be similar among both boys and girls, in which, the physical aggression was present more among boys and then toward verbal and at last in very indirect and passive way more among girls.[27] Jacobson [28] has shown the relationship between the employee tolerance of aggression, perceptions of aggression experienced and perception of aggression demonstrated with organizational commitments, and employee absenteeism. Self-esteem is positively correlated with overall aggression which means the individuals with high self-esteem are more aggressive than the individuals with low self-esteem.[29]

 Model of Yoga Intervention in Reducing Counterproductive Work Behavior and Its Predictors

Yoga is a form of mind and body both that involves muscular activity and an internally directed mindfulness of the self, the breath, and energy.[30] Yoga has a lot of useful application on the psychological aspect. Yoga improves the perceived quality of life and at the same time lowers the anxiety and depression.[31] The suggested model of yoga intervention is self-explanatory. It explains how yoga can be a viable solution in reducing the predicating variables such as NA, aggression and in reducing CWB [Figure 1].{Figure 1}

Effect of hatha yoga on negative affectivity is also studied in earlier studies and reported to have deceased cortisol level and reduced perceived stress and negative affect.[32]

Maximum changes in autonomic variables and the breath rate occurred during the stage of effortless meditation, and such changes have brought sympathetic activity down.[33] Guided meditation is helpful in decreasing the oxygen consumption and increasing in breath volume along with a reduction in sympathetic activity.[34] Mindfulness meditation and concentrated meditation sessions help in increasing the attention.[35] More attention helps in making less number of mistakes. Occasions of employee's alcohol use and possibly abuse is considered to be deviant behaviors.[36] Simpson et al.[37] found that the mindfulness earned through meditation was helpful to those overcoming addictions including alcoholism. That means deviant behaviors can be controlled by means of yoga practices.

Lavey et al.[38] conducted a research to measure the effect of yoga on “Profile of Mood States” and found that yoga participant have shown the significant improvement in tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, fatigue-inertia, and confusion-bewilderment. Many of these mood behaviors are known as predictors for CWB. Stress and aggression are associated with an elevated sympathetic nervous system activity [39] though yoga has been proven to lower the sympathetic activity.[34]

Well-being in the workplace is indicated by employees who perceive themselves to be growing, engaged, productive and who experience the positive emotional states such as will, joy, and energy that help cushion against the stress and depression. Self Management of Excessive Tension (SMET) developed by Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana clearly indicates that SMET contributed to better emotional intelligence and emotional competence.[40] Yoga practitioners are more likely to report having strong morals, healthy values, and the ability to more often express their feelings.[41] Positive effects of yoga have been observed on well-being and satisfaction with life.[42]

Oxford University study suggests that yoga can improve the psychological well-being and mood among prisoners and may also result in an effect on their impulsive behavior.[43] They found that the prisoners after a 10-week yoga course stated about the improvement in mood, reduction in stress and they were better at a task that needs control on behavior than those who did not take part in yoga. Prisoners normally have higher rates of mental health problems than the general people, and elevated levels are often recorded of aggression, personal grief, drug, and alcohol abuse, and antisocial behavior among prisoners. Stress-induced abnormalities; in the neuroendocrine systems mediating adaptation contribute to the psychological disturbances such as anxiety, depression, and hostility, and to behaviors such as substance abuse, violent aggression, and criminal acts.[44] Job burnout affects the individual on the psychological front that results in poor health conditions. It also impacts the performance in the organization. Yoga way of life can reduce the job burnout of managers and thus helping employees to be healthy at the same time.[45]

Shelley and Wicklund's [46] theories of self-consciousness and Carver and Scheier's [47] control theory emphasize the attention to the self and self-awareness as a means to promote self-regulation. In Deci and Ryan's [48] self-determination theory, attention and awareness are critical to fully process, what is occurring, so that this knowledge can facilitate the integrative functioning, or acting in accordance with one's values and one's “true” self. These theories indicate that mindfulness deal with the focus on attention and awareness. Acute effects of yoga on mood and stress are tried on a group of people.[49]

It is observed that irrespective of any specific posture, all postures have some degree of increase in positive moods and decease in negative moods.[50] The same study found that these mood changes are lasting for few hours, and back bend postures are found to be associated with high level of positive moods. Yoga is very beneficial to reduce the anxiety that can help in overcoming the feeling of job insecurity.[51] It was also found that verbal aggressiveness decreased significantly in the yoga group in comparison to the physical activity group.[52]

Individual spirituality at work is about expressing the inner self through the meaningful work and belongingness to the community at work. Outcomes indicated that the workplace spirituality characteristics such as finding job meaningful, positive organizational goals, and the community at a job were positively related to commitment, satisfaction in job and workplace spirituality is found to be moderating for such parameters.[53]

In short, yoga gives both physiological and psychological benefits including: improved memory and attention;[54] improved function on measures of attention;[55] reduced psychological distress, and perceived stress and enhanced well-being;[56] increased positive moods and decreased negative moods.[57]


The above findings rightly highlight the role of the strength of yoga and it can be used as a self-management technique where an individual does not need to go to the hospital or therapist. Yoga impacts psychological and physiological sides ensuring that individual is stable and healthy. Yoga seems to be very effective in reduction of CWB-Interpersonal and CWB-Organizational both by bringing improvement in awareness, let go of feeling, quality of life, and reduction in psychological, interpersonal issues. Yoga could be a viable tool for employees in the reduction of CWB and evidence indicate that such study would be worthwhile. This review study shows that yoga interventions may be effective in dealing the personal psychological issues such as reduction of anxiety, stress, and depression and it can promote well-being of an individual. In other words, yoga may not only help in overcoming the psychological and emotional issues but it has the potential to result in positive functioning of an individual. Yoga could be a better addition to the range of positive interventions on psychological and physical health, in view of its possibilities.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1Gruys ML, Sackett PR. Investigating the dimensionality of counterproductive work behavior. Int J Sel Assess 2003;11:30-42.
2Penney L, Spector P. Job stress, incivility, and counterproductive work behavior (CWB): The moderating role of negative affectivity. J Organ Behav 2005;26:777-96.
3Bennett RJ, Robinson SL. Development of a measure of workplace deviance. J Appl Psychol 2000;85:349-60.
4Robinson S, Bennett R. A typology of deviant workplace behaviors: A multidimensional scaling study. Acad Manage J 1995;38:555-72.
5Hogan J, Hogan R. How to measure employee reliability. J Appl Psychol 1989;74:273-9.
6O'Leary-Kelly AM, Griffin RW, Glew DJ. Organization-motivated aggression: A research framework. Acad Manage Rev 1996;21:225-3.
7Dalal RS. A meta-analysis of the relationship between organizational citizenship behavior and counterproductive work behavior. J Appl Psychol 2005;90:1241-55.
8Douglas SC, Martinko MJ. Exploring the role of individual differences in the prediction of workplace aggression. J Appl Psychol 2001;86:547-59.
9Salgado J. The Big Five personality dimensions and counterproductive behaviors. Int J Sel Assess 2002;10:117-25.
10Muraven M, Baumeister RF. Self-regulation and depletion of limited resources: Does self-control resemble a muscle? Psychol Bull 2000;126:247-59.
11Baumeister RF, Exline JJ. Virtue, personality, and social relations: Self-control as the moral muscle. J Pers 1999;67:1165-94.
12Rishipal, Jain N. Employee obsolescence and counterproductive work behaviour among employees of government organizations and departments. Eur J Bus Manag 2013;5:82-6.
13Abhishek YD, Preeti AD. An empirical study in prediction of negative voluntary organisational behaviours. Int J Manag Soc Sci Res 2014;3:27-33.
14Pathak S. Gossiping in Indian service cluster: A brief empirical study. Res J Commer Behav Sci 2014;3:1-9.
15Meier LL, Spector PE. Reciprocal effects of work stressors and counterproductive work behavior: A five-wave longitudinal study. J Appl Psychol 2013;98:529-39.
16Roxana A. Antecedents and mediators of employees counterproductive work behavior and intentions to quit. Procedia Soc Behav Sci 2013;84:219-24.
17Benjamin O, Ademola O, Babalola SS. Effect of perceived inequality and perceived job insecurity on fraudulent intent of bank employees in Nigeria. Eur J Psychol 2011;7:99-111.
18Watson D, Clark LA. Negative affectivity: The disposition to experience aversive workplace aggression. Psychol Rep 1984;92:185-94.
19Homant RJ, Kennedy DB. Hostile attribution in perceived justification of workplace aggression. Psychol Rep 2003;92:185-94.
20Fox S, Spector PE, Miles D. Counterproductive work behavior (CWB) in response to job stressors and organizational justice: Some mediator and moderator tests for autonomy and emotions. J Vocat Behav 2001;59:291-309.
21Prabha RH. Impact of emotional labour on employee well-being: A conceptual framework. Rev HRM 2014;3:21-7.
22Stoeva AZ, Chiu R, Greenhaus JH. Negative affectivity, role stress, and work-family conflict. J Vocat Behav 2002;60:1-16.
23Buss AH, Perry M. The aggression questionnaire. J Pers Soc Psychol 1992;63:452-9.
24James LR, Mazerolle MD. Personality in Work Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications; 2002.
25James LR, McIntyre MD, Glisson CA, Bowler JL, Mitchell TR. The conditional reasoning measurement system for aggression: An overview. Hum Performance 2004;17:271-95.
26Martin R, Watson D, Wan CK. A three-factor model of trait anger: Dimensions of affect, behavior, and cognition. J Pers 2000;68:869-97.
27Dutt D, Pandey GK, Pal D, Hazra S, Dey TK. Magnitude, types and sex differentials of aggressive behaviour among school children in a rural area of West Bengal. Indian J Community Med 2013;38:109-13.
28Jacobson VL. Workplace Aggression: Employee attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors in aggressive work climates. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. Department of Psychology, Capella University; 2007.
29Self Esteem and Aggressive Behavior: Who's More Aggressive? Available from: [Last accessed on 2014 Sep 09].
30Collins C. Yoga: Intuition, preventive medicine, and treatment. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 1998;27:563-8.
31Schure M, Christopher J, Christopher S. Mind-body medicine and the art of self-care: Teaching mindfulness to counseling students through yoga, meditation, and qigong. J Couns Dev 2008;86:47-56.
32West J, Otte C, Geher K, Johnson J, Mohr DC. Effects of Hatha yoga and African dance on perceived stress, affect, and salivary cortisol. Ann Behav Med 2004;28:114-8.
33Telles S, Raghavendra BR, Naveen KV, Manjunath NK, Kumar S, Subramanya P. Changes in autonomic variables following two meditative states described in yoga texts. J Altern Complement Med 2013;19:35-42.
34Vempati RP, Telles S. Yoga-based guided relaxation reduces sympathetic activity judged from baseline levels. Psychol Rep 2002;90:487-94.
35Valentine E, Sweet P. Meditation and attention: A comparison of the effects of concentrative and mindfulness meditation on sustained attention. Ment Health Relig Cult 1999;2:59-70.
36Matano RA, Futa KT, Wanat SF, Mussman LM, Leung CW. The Employee Stress and Alcohol Project: The development of a computer-based alcohol abuse prevention program for employees. J Behav Health Serv Res 2000;27:152-65.
37Simpson TL, Kaysen D, Bowen S, MacPherson LM, Chawla N, Blume A, et al. PTSD symptoms, substance use, and vipassana meditation among incarcerated individuals. J Trauma Stress 2007;20:239-49.
38Lavey R, Sherman T, Mueser KT, Osborne DD, Currier M, Wolfe R. The effects of yoga on mood in psychiatric inpatients. Psychiatr Rehabil J 2005;28:399-402.
39Miller SB, Ditto B. Exaggerated sympathetic nervous system response to extended psychological stress in offspring of hypertensives. Psychophysiology 1991;28:103-13.
40Kumari S, Hankey A, Nagendra HR. Effect of SMET on emotional dynamics of managers. Voice Res 2013;2:49-52.
41Monk-Turner E, Turner C. Does yoga shape body, mind and spiritual health and happiness: Differences between yoga practitioners and college students. Int J Yoga 2010;3:48-54.
42Impett EA, Daubenmier JJ, Hirschman LA. Minding the body: Yoga, embodiment, and well-being. Sex Res Soc Policy 2006;3:39-48.
43Bilderbeck AC, Farias M, Brazil IA, Jakobowitz S, Wikholm C. Participation in a 10-week course of yoga improves behavioural control and decreases psychological distress in a prison population. J Psychiatr Res 2013;47:1438-45.
44Walton KG, Levitsky DK. Effects of the transcendental meditation program on neuroendocrine abnormalities associated with aggression and crime. J Offender Rehabil 2003;36:67-87.
45Adhia H, Nagendra HR, Mahadevan B. Impact of Adoption of Yoga way of Life on the Reduction of Job Burnout of Managers. Vikalpa 2010;35:21-33.
46Shelley D, Wicklund RA. A Theory of Objective Self Awareness. New York: Academic Press; 1972.
47Carver CS, Scheier MF. Control processes and self-organization as complementary principles underlying behavior. Pers Soc Psychol Rev 2002;6:304-15.
48Deci EL, Ryan RM. Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum; 1985.
49Robson R. A critical assessment of the acute effects of yoga and cardiovascular exercise on markers of mood and stress. J Yoga Phys Ther 2012;1:1-7.
50Shapiro D, Cline K. Mood changes associated with iyengar yoga practices: A pilot study. J Yoga Phys Ther 2008;1:35-44.
51Pilkington K, Kirkwood G, Rampes H, Richardson J. Yoga for depression: The research evidence. J Affect Disord 2005;89:13-24.
52Deshpande S, Nagendra HR, Raghuram N. A randomized control trial of the effect of yoga on verbal aggressiveness in normal healthy volunteers. Int J Yoga 2008;1:76-82.
53Piryaei S, Zare R. Workplace spirituality and positive work attitudes: The moderating role of individual spirituality. Indian J Econ Dev 2013;1:91-7.
54Sahasi G. A replicated study on the effects of yoga on cognitive functions. Indian Psychol Rev 1984;27:33-5.
55Peck H, Kehle T, Bray M, Theodore L. Yoga as an intervention for children with attention problems. School Psych Rev 2005;34:415-24.
56Carmody J, Baer RA. Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. J Behav Med 2008;31:23-33.
57Shapiro D, Cline K. Mood changes associated with Iyengar yoga practices: A pilot study. Int J Yoga Ther 2008;14:35-44.