The stress-relieving benefits of positively experienced social sexual behavior in the workplace

Leah D. Sheppard, Jane O'Reilly, Marius van Dijke, Simon Lloyd D. Restubog, Karl Aquino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current research examines the understudied consequences of non-harassing social sexual behavior in the workplace. In a programmatic series of studies, we argue and test the proposition that being the recipient of enjoyed social sexual behavior can provide psychosocial resources (such as feeling powerful, socially connected, and physically attractive) that protect recipients from stress and its negative outcomes. In Study 1, we develop and validate a measure of non-harassing social sexual behavior that is conceptually and empirically distinct from sexual harassment and is positively correlated with daily resource accumulation. We also uncover two distinct forms of social sexual behavior: flirtation and sexual storytelling. In Study 2, we use time-lagged data to demonstrate that the frequency of receiving flirtation at work is more positively related to psychosocial resource accumulation to the extent that it is enjoyed, and the resulting resources predict lower levels of stress. Finally, in Study 3, we use multi-source data to demonstrate that enjoyed flirtation buffers the relationship between workplace injustice and the stress-related outcomes of job tension and insomnia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-52
Number of pages15
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Psychosocial resources
  • Social sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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