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Harming a voodoo doll of your boss could improve company morale, study finds


If you've ever needed a study to justify why you have a voodoo doll of your boss in your kitchen drawer at home, well, here it is.

A study of 229 U.S. and Canada workers found that the "symbolic retaliation" behind harming such voodoo doll could improve company morale and make victims of bad bosses feel like justice has been served.

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According to the Wilfrid Laurier University study, harming a voodoo doll can make you feel like you got justice.

Some participants were allowed to harm a voodoo doll, while others were not allowed. Then, both groups of people had to fill out the missing letters in a word.

"If there sense of injustice has been activated, then injustice-related concepts come to mind more readily, so they are more likely to complete the ambiguous word fragment as injustice," said Lindie Liang, one of the researchers behind the study.

For example, when asked to solve the following word:

_ R O _ _

People who hadn't harmed a voodoo doll thought the word was "wrong," a negative word often associated with injustice. People who had harmed the voodoo doll, thought it was "irony," a more neutral world.

The researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada found that engaging in this symbolic retaliation lowered feelings of injustice by one third. Liang said they decided to do the study because previous research showed that people who feel tehy've been treated fairly often lash out at their abuser in real life, leading to a cycle of retaliation from both parties.

Symbolic retaliation can improve company morale and make victims of bad bosses feel like justice has been served.

Which begs the question—is this a thing? Do people have voodoo dolls of their bosses?

"No," said Peter Kohler, 42, who I found near a breakfast joint in Los Angeles.

"I'm a boss myself, and I would hope that anybody that I'm, you know, a mentor to would not feel the need to have a voodoo doll of me—that they would feel comfortable to come and hash out any ill will," said Courtney Brande, 33.

"I used to have an [anonymous] Twitter feed about crappy things that happened at my place of work, and I don't think that it actually made me feel any better," said Holly Finch, 43.

Now, no worries if you're feeling this whole "do harm unto others" thing but don't have a voodoo doll. Lian says there are other methods of "symbolic retaliation."

"So for example, maybe have a picture of your supervisor. Shooting darts at the face of your supervisor might work."

Also, if you're looking for how to make a voodoo doll, check out this tutorial. (And special thanks to YouTube user LIVE/FUN/and/DIY for letting us use their footage in our video):

There you have it. But you didn't hear it from us.

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Related stories on Circa:
Here's how to DIY your very own voodoo doll
Go inside an actual Haitian voodoo ceremony, and meet a real voodoo queen
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