Psychological Contracts: Past, Present, and Future

Jacqueline A.M. Coyle-Shapiro, Sandra Pereira Costa, Wiebke Doden, Chiachi Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

144 Citations (Scopus)


We provide a review of psychological contract research, beginning with past conceptualizations and empirical evidence. We tailor this retrospective look by reviewing the antecedents and outcomes associated with psychological contract breach and discussing the dominant theoretical explanations for the breach-outcome relationship. This synthesis of past evidence provides the foundation for reviewing the present emerging and developing themes in psychological contract research. This discussion is organized around the expansion of resources exchanged and the antecedents of contract breach and outcomes, moving beyond reciprocity as an underpinning explanation. We highlight the practical implications of research to date on psychological contracts and end with directions for future research to include the need for greater attention given to ideological currency, employee health, polycontextual approaches, the role of psychological needs, and post-breach/violation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-169
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2019


  • Psychological contracts
  • conservation of resources theory
  • context
  • health
  • psychological needs
  • social exchange theory

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