Unexpected employee location is associated with injury during robberies

Katherine A. DeCelles*, Maryam Kouchaki, Nir Halevy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Millions of employees are victims of violent crimes at work every year, particularly those in the retail industry, who are frequent targets of robbery. Why are some employees injured while others escape from these incidents physically unharmed? Departing from prevailing models of workplace violence, which focus on the static characteristics of perpetrators, victims, and work environments, we examine why and when injuries during robberies occur. Our multimethod investigation of convenience-store robberies sought evidence from detailed coding of surveillance videos and matched archival data, preregistered experiments with formerly incarcerated individuals and customer service personnel, and a 3-y longitudinal intervention study in the field. While standard retailindustry safety protocols encourage employees to be out from behind the cash register area to be safer, we find that robbers are significantly more likely to injure or kill employees who are located there (versus behind the cash register area) when a robbery begins. A 3-y field study demonstrates that changing the safety training protocol- through providing employees with a behavioral script to follow should a robbery begin when they are on the sales floor-was associated with a significantly lower rate of injury during these robberies. Our research establishes the importance of understanding the interactive dynamics of workplace violence, crime, and conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2200026119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 27 2022


  • conflict
  • crime
  • injury
  • interactions
  • workplace violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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