When Broken Promises Threaten One’s Identity: The Impact of Psychological Contract Breach on Self-identity Threat



Date of this version


Document Type



Psychological contract breach, psychological contract violation, identity threat, affect, coping strategies


Research on psychological contracts has not been clear on how and why psychological contract breach (PCB) has the effect it does on employee attitudes and behaviors. In this study, we suggest that self-identity threat provides a lens through which to better understand PCB. Specifically, PCB is expected to convey information that threatens an employee’s sense of value or worth in the organization. In a study of 386 university employees, we found that: 1) PCB results in self-identity threat, which 2) elicits strong negative affect, and 3) results in the use of coping strategies, including seeking social support and organizational retaliation.

Published in

Journal of Organizational Psychology

Citation/Other Information

12, 81-98