Dr Dirk Lindebaum from the University of Liverpool's Management School, together with his co-author Professor Peter Jordan, found that the commonly-held assumption that positivity in the workplace produces positive outcomes, while negative emotions lead to negative outcomes, may be in need for reconsideration.
This is partly due to this assumption failing to take into account the differences in work contexts which effect outcomes. For instance, anger does not always lead to negative outcomes and can be used as a force for good through acting upon injustices.
In some cases, anger can be considered a force for good if motivated by perceived violations of moral standards.
An employee, for example, could express anger constructively after a manager has treated a fellow worker unfairly.
In such cases, anger can be useful to prevent these acts of injustice from repeating themselves in the future.
Likewise, being too positive in the workplace, rather than resulting in greater well-being and greater productivity, can lead to complacency and superficiality.
The research also found that, within team situations, negativity can have a good affect, leading to less consensus and therefore greater discussion amongst workers which enhances team effectiveness.
Researchers also found people derive satisfaction from doing 'good' in the context of helplines by providing support to people in times of emotional distress.
However, they are negatively affected by their line of work due to people shunning them in social situations. The study was published in the journal Human Relations.