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To Guilt or To Vacation: Constraining Effects of Guilt on Vacation Decisions

Journal of Travel Research. 2021;60(8):1692-1713


Karen Pei-Sze Tan, Xiang (Robert) Li


Annual usage of paid leave in America has been declining although employees are granted more time off than before. This study proposes that taking paid leave for a vacation is perceived as a violation of workplace norms, which could partly explain this phenomenon. This violation is presumed to pose a threat to an employee’s social self at work. The accompanying guilt from such a threat is hypothesized to lead to lower vacation intention and more reparative actions (e.g. apologizing and decreasing vacation length). These consequences align with social self preservation theory, which posits that individuals aim to preserve a positive social self. Empirical results indicate that guilt fully mediates the impact of threats to the workplace social self on travel intentions and partially mediates the effects of such threats on reparative actions. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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