Department of Psychology
The University of Houston
126 Heyne Building
Houston, TX 77204-5522
(713) 743-8500

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Lisa M. Penney, Ph.D.

Lisa M. Penney

Associate Professor
Industrial Organizational Psychology
Ph.D., University of South Florida

Heyne Building, Room 129B

Lisa M. Penney, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston, received her Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of South Florida in 2003. Dr. Penney joined the faculty at UH in August 2004. Her primary research interests are in job stress, counterproductive work behavior, work-life balance, the role of emotions in the workplace, and emotional labor. Before coming to UH, Dr. Penney spent five years working at Personnel Decisions Research Institutes (PDRI), the premier I/O research firm in the U.S., initially as an intern and later as a research associate. While at PDRI, she was involved in a number of projects including the development of training, selection, and performance management systems for government, public and private sector clients.


PSYC 7366 Motivation
PSYC 7365 Leadership
PSYC 6371 Personnel Psychology
PSYC 8393 Emotions in the Workplace

My Teaching Philosophy:

The role of teacher and mentor is one of the most noble callings a person can have. As educators, we bear a great responsibility to society. A friend of mine once joked that as educators we stand on the front lines on the war against mediocrity in this country, but these words also contain a grain of truth. The lessons we impart to our students and the relationships we develop with them as mentors have great potential to impact the future direction of their lives, along with the lives of everyone they will touch. Because our actions can have such far-reaching consequences, it is important that we are mindful of all that we do and hold ourselves to the highest of standards. My personal teaching philosophy can be summarized in terms of four key values: challenge, engagement, fairness, and mentoring

"Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. "
-Malcolm S. Forbes

One of the most important responsibilities we have as educators is to introduce students to new ways of thinking and to challenge them to widen their world views and consider new ideas. In order to do so, I believe that we must not only provide opportunities in class for students to develop and hone their reasoning and analytical skills, but we must also create an environment that is open, safe and respectful of the free discussion of ideas. I also believe that we must be open to being challenged ourselves, for it is in the process of questioning that real knowledge is gained and truth revealed. Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it,” and a teacher who is unwilling to challenge his/her own views will not likely inspire students to challenge theirs.

In addition to challenging students' ways of thinking, I feel that it is imperative that we prepare students for the “real world”. Our world is changing at a more rapid pace and evolving greater levels of complexity than we have ever experienced. These changes in turn demand that we require more of our students in order to prepare for success. Therefore, I believe we must set high performance standards in the classroom and stand by them. In my opinion, we do students a huge disservice if we neglect our responsibilities and fail to push them to reach their full potential. After all, the “real world” is far less forgiving than university.


I believe that the best way for students to learn is by actively engaging with the course material. In other words, I believe that whenever possible it is important to have activities and discussions that encourage critical thinking and provide students the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained in class. This “learning by doing” approach gives students a deeper understanding and appreciation of the subject matter than could be gained through simply reading a textbook or listening to a lecture.

My applied experience as a consultant has also been a valuable resource for teaching material. As a consultant, I was involved in a wide variety of projects, including the development and administration of employee selection, performance appraisal, survey feedback and training programs to both government and private sector clients. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to manage projects, interact with clients, and supervise personnel. These activities provided me with a number of real world examples to illustrate the concepts discussed in my classes. Student responses to these examples have been overwhelmingly positive and I believe they have enhanced my credibility as an educator.


In my opinion, fairness is one of the most crucial aspects of the teacher-student relationship. My decision to go into I/O psychology and my research were inspired by a strong belief in the necessity of fair and just treatment in the workplace, and there are enough similarities between student-teacher relationships and employee-manager relationships to merit the application of organizational justice theories to the education process. Briefly, organizational justice theories describe the importance of establishing fairness in: a) the distribution of outcomes (e.g., grades), b) the procedures that determine those outcomes (e.g., procedures are sufficiently justified, consistent, without bias, based on accurate information and correctible), and c) the interpersonal treatment of individuals (e.g., individuals are treated with dignity and respect in all interactions). Research has shown that justice is related to a number of important job attitudes and behaviors. Individuals who experience high levels of justice are more likely to be satisfied with and committed to their work and to engage in more organizational citizenship behaviors (e.g., helping others, expending extra effort), and are less likely to engage in counterproductive behaviors (e.g., lying, cheating).

For students, fair treatment is likely to have similar beneficial effects and so I make every effort to apply the tenets of justice theory in all my dealings with students. For example, during the first class meetings or my initial one-on-one meeting with students, I explain what I expect from them in terms of performance, as well as the consequences for poor performance. I also go one step further and explain why my standards are set as they are. I have found that explaining my performance standards in terms of how they will help students develop habits that will serve them later in their professional careers leads to greater understanding and acceptance of those policies.

My experiences as both a student and a teacher have taught me that nothing turns students off faster than a dismissive tone or a cruel word. Therefore, while I am firm in the enforcement of my policies, I am also careful to be respectful of students’ feelings so that they will remain engaged in the learning process. Moreover, all of my students know that my door is open and that they are free to contact me at any time to discuss any concerns they may have.


While the time we spend in the classroom is certainly important for student development, I have learned that the time we spend with students outside of the classroom is just as critical, if not more so. Mentoring students is perhaps the most challenging and rewarding aspect of my job. College can be a very tumultuous time as students are challenged at every step of their education (undergraduate and graduate) to do more than they’ve ever done before. Managing the demands of school, work, and young adulthood, including deciding on a career path, can be overwhelming and feelings of frustration and self-doubt are not uncommon. I believe the mentor’s role is to serve as the calm center and guiding force in the midst of these challenges. A mentor must help students outline their goals, identify obstacles and develop strategies to remain focused and overcome those obstacles.

I have learned that being an effective mentor requires many skills. A good mentor must be a good listener, be patient, and know how to spot and solve problems. It is also essential to develop a rapport with each student and to demonstrate very early through words and actions that I am looking out for their best interests. Having a good rapport and gaining a student’s trust is especially important when providing developmental feedback. However, perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is that sincerity is key. I could list a number of clichés about the importance of being credible, accessible, and approachable, but the truth is that none of it matters unless you truly care about your students and want them to succeed.

Research Interests:

Employee deviance and counterproductive work behavior: Counterproductive work behaviors (CWB) refer to intentional behaviors by employees that harm or intend to harm other people at work or the employing organization (Spector & Fox, 2002). Some examples of CWB include purposely working slowly, intentionally withholding information from a colleague, starting an argument with someone at work, taking tools or supplies home without permission, taking a longer break than allowed, and threatening someone at work with harm. Currently, I’m working on several CWB-related projects. Two examine the relationship between personality and CWB, specifically looking narrow traits (narcissism) and at the interactions among Big Five traits to predict CWB. I’m also examining the interaction between situational variables (i.e., job stressors) and personality in relation to deviance. Another project is merging the CWB and emotional labor literature to examine customer-directed behavior. I also have been working on developing and validating a measure of the motives that individuals have for performing CWB.

Job stressors and strain: Job stressors refer to conditions at work that require an adaptive response from employees (e.g., workload, incivility, constraints, injustice, work-family conflict), while strains are the psychological, physical and behavioral responses to stressors. Building on the research of my advisor, Paul Spector, I am interested in exploring how the experience of stress at work impacts important employee outcomes, including job performance, turnover intentions, satisfaction, and health. Moreover, I am interested in understanding the mediational variables that impact those relationships (e.g., emotional response), as well as variables that may mitigate the negative impact of stress on employee strain (e.g., employee personality, coping strategies, supervisor support, training, organizational policies). Examples of studies that I’m working on in this area with various research partners include a) examining the relationship justice, employee self-construal and citizenship behaviors, b) identifying the various reasons, including organizational practices, that impact women’s decision to leave work after motherhood, c) exploring how formal and informal organizational support impact the relationship between experienced aggression and job performance, and d) examining the generalizability of Spector’s job stress model in Romanian samples.

Emotional labor and customer service: Emotional labor refers to jobs that require employees to deliberately regulate the emotions they display to customers (e.g., deliver service with a smile). The level of interaction between employees and customers/clients in service jobs, and the sometimes transient nature of those relationships, creates an interesting and unique environment. My research interests in this area include a) examining how emotional contagion impacts service employees and customers, and how that in turn affects employee performance and customer satisfaction, b) understanding how emotional labor and customer stressors impact employee frustration, job satisfaction, and deviance, and c) identifying effective coping strategies for employees to mitigate the impact of customer stressors on employee performance and well-being.

Research Team Members:


Emily Hunter, MA
Ryan King
Jennifer Reeves
Evan Weinberger
Raenada Wilson

Other UH graduate students involved in collaborative research with me:

Emily David
Sara Perry
Sabrina Volpone



Articles & Book Chapters

Milam, A.*, Spitzmuller, C., & Penney, L. M. (In press). Individual differences and perceptions of workplace incivility. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Penney, L. M., & Spector, P. E. (2007). Emotions and counterproductive work behavior. In N. M. Ashkanasy & C. L. Cooper (Eds.) Research Companion to Emotion in Organizations. Elsevier Science.

Spector, P. E., Fox, S., Penney, L. M., Bruursema, K., Goh, A., & Kessler, S. (2006). The dimensionality of counterproductivity: Are all counterproductive behaviors created equal? Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68, 446-460.

Penney, L. M. (2006). Workplace incivility. In S. Rogelberg (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Penney, L. M. (2006). Organizational retaliatory behaviors. In S. Rogelberg (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Penney, L. M., & Spector, P. E. (2005). Job stress, incivility, and counterproductive workplace behavior (CWB): The moderating role of negative affectivity. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26(5), 777-796.

Penney, L. M. & Borman, W. C. (2005). The prediction of contextual performance. In A. Evers, O. Voskuijl, & N. Anderson (Eds.) Handbook of Selection. (pp. 376-396). Oxford: Blackwell.

Penney, L. M., Spector, P., & Fox, S. (2003). Stress, personality, and counterproductive work behavior (CWB): How do environmental and individual factors influence behavior? In A. Sagie, M. Koslowsky, & S. Stashevsky (Eds.). Misbehavior and dysfunctional attitudes in organizations (pp. 194-210). New York, NY: Palgrave/ Macmillan.

Penney, L. M. & Spector, P. E. (2002). Narcissism and counterproductive behavior: Do bigger egos mean bigger problems? International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 10 (1), 126-134.

Sample of Recent Conference Papers

* Indicates current or former student.

**Penney, L. M., & Witt, L. A. (2008). Effects of Conscientiousness and Agreeableness on Employee Reactions to Constraints. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, San Francisco, CA.
**Recognized as one of the top posters at the 2008 SIOP Conference.

**Perry, S. J.*, Penney, L. M., & Witt, L. A. (2008, August). Coping with the constraints of self-employment: A person-situation model of entrepreneurial burnout. Paper presented at Academy of Management Annual Meeting. Anaheim, CA.
**Recognized as one of the top papers at the 2008 Academy of Management Meeting..

** Tunstall, M. M.*, Penney, L. M., Hunter, E. M.*, & Weinberger, E.* (2006). A Closer Look at CWB: Emotions, Targets, and Outcomes. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Dallas, TX.
** Winner of the 2006 John C. Flanagan Award for Outstanding Student Contribution to the SIOP Conference.**

Penney, L. M. (2008). Personality and CWB: Narrowing the Profile of Deviant Employees. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, San Francisco, CA.

Ilie, A., & Penney, L. M. (2008). A test of the stressor-emotion model of CWB in Romania. In D. Ispas & E. Levine (Chairs) Affect and performance: Recent findings and new directions for research. Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, San Francisco, CA.

Kessler, S. R., O’Brien, K. E., Spector, P. E., Bandelli, A. C., Borman, W. C., Nelson, C. E., & Penney, L. M. (2008). Is Machiavellianianism Inherently Bad? A Reexamination of Previously Held Views. Poster submitted to the annual meeting of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, San Francisco, CA.

Volpone, S.*, Hunter, E.*, Penney, L. M., & Chng, W. (August, 2008). The Squeaky Wheel: Customer Complaint Behavior, Customer Personality and Employee Performance.  Poster accepted for presentation at the Academy of Management’s (AoM) annual conference in Anaheim, CA.

Villanueva, L.*, & Penney, L. M. (2008). Examining the role of self-control in the prediction of CWB: Does cognition matter? In J. Jensen (Chair). Structural and Individual Predictors of OCB and CWB. Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, San Francisco, CA.

Hunter, E. M.* & Penney, L. M. (2007). The Waiter Spit in my Soup! Counterproductive Behavior Toward Customers. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, New York, NY.

Wilson, R.* & Penney, L. M. (2007). The Role of Status in the Commission of CWB. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, New York, NY.