Emotional and Physiological Processes and Positive Intervention Strategies: Volume 3


Table of contents

(12 chapters)

The quest to understand the experience of stress and how it affects our mental and physical well being continues to fill volumes of journals and books. Despite this fecundity we seem to be no closer to a comprehensive theory of the stress process, or even a common definition of what it is, than we were twenty years ago. This is true for the subfield of occupational stress as well. Thus arises the inchoate suspicion that all is not well in our field. Our view is more sanguine than some, however. We are quick to concede that there is not a useful comprehensive theory of work stress, but we also hasten to add that this is not a critical lack. We prefer to think of the study of work stress and well being as defining a constellation of theories and models that each attacks a meaningful process or phenomenon. In this sense, the term stress serves as a general rubric for a diverse set of research questions (and their associated theories) concerning workplace experiences, individuals’ reactions to those experiences, and workers’ well being in all its various manifestations. The field of work stress excites many of us because of the incredible diversity of disciplines that have entered the fray, each of them attacking the question of how our work lives determine our health, and using the unique theoretical perspectives and methods of their discipline. In this sense, we are all united in our interest in trying to understand how what happens in the workplace affects our mental and physical health, in spite of the range of specific questions, theories, and methodologies that characterize our research programs.

We review the literature on stress in organizational settings and, based on a model of job insecurity and emotional intelligence by Jordan, Ashkanasy and Härtel (2002), present a new model where affective responses associated with stress mediate the impact of workplace stressors on individual and organizational performance outcomes. Consistent with Jordan et al., emotional intelligence is a key moderating variable. In our model, however, the components of emotional intelligence are incorporated into the process of stress appraisal and coping. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications of these theoretical developments for understanding emotional and behavioral responses to workplace.

Display rules are formal and informal norms that regulate the expression of workplace emotion. Organizations impose display rules to meet at least three objectives: please customers, maintain internal harmony, and promote employee well-being. Despite these valid intentions, display rules can engender emotional labor, a potentially deleterious phenomenon. We review three mechanisms by which emotional labor can create worker alienation, burnout, stress, and low performance. Though not as widely discussed, emotional labor sometimes has propitious consequences. We discuss the potential benefits of emotional labor as well.

This chapter evaluates a model of the organizational context of burnout with direct reference to a new measure, the Areas of Worklife Scale (AWS). The model proposes a structured framework for considering six areas of worklife – workload, control, reward, community, fairness, and values – that have resonated through the literature on burnout over the previous two decades. The chapter presents extensive data on the AWS, testing a model of the six areas’ interrelationships as well as their overall relationship to the three aspects of burnout. The results of these analyses are discussed in reference to the psychometric qualities of the measure and the implications of a structured approach to work environments for future development of research on burnout. Implications for developing workplace interventions are also considered.

While often used in everyday exchanges, feeling vigorous at work, that is individuals’ feelings that they have physical strength, emotional energy, and cognitive liveliness, has hardly been subjected to any conceptual inquiry or empirical research. In this chapter, I pursue the following objectives: (a) to review the range of behavioral science literature in which vigor has been considered as a distinct affect; (b) based on this review, to present a conceptual framework of vigor at work; (c) to explore the antecedents of vigor and its consequences, including vigor’s possible effects on individuals’ mental and physical health, and job performance; and (d) to describe a proposed measure of vigor at work and the results of an effort to construct validate the new measure. I conclude by pointing out a few open research questions that concern the study of vigor at work.

They say Eve tempted Adam with an apple. But man I ain’t going for that. Pink Cadillac – Bruce SpringsteenAll through history, individuals have spent considerable effort attempting to influence the behaviors and beliefs of others. As a principal issue in psychology (Forgas & Williams, 2001), social influence processes have been the subject of inquiry for a considerable length of time (Sherif, 1936) while Peterson (2001) argued that the manner in which individuals manipulate others represents the very core of social psychology. Extensive reviews of the social influence literature (e.g. Cialdini & Trost, 1998; Forgas & Williams, 2001) elucidate its powerful role in virtually all work and non-work domains.

The preponderance of studies that rely on self-report for both independent (e.g. stressors) and dependent (e.g. well-being) variables is often deplored, as it creates problems of common method variance, which may lead to inflated, or even spurious, correlations and predictions. It is sometimes suggested that alternative measures should yield more “objective” information on the phenomena under investigation. We discuss this issue with regard to: (a) observational measures of working conditions; (b) physiological measures of strain; and (c) event-based “self-observation” on a micro-level. We argue that these methods are not necessarily “objective.” Like self-report, they are influenced by a plethora of factors; and measurement artifacts can easily be produced. All this can make their interpretation quite difficult, and the conclusion that lack of convergence with self-report automatically invalidates self-report is not necessarily warranted. Especially with regard to physiological measures, one has to keep in mind that they refer to a different response level that follows its own laws and is only loosely coupled with psychological responses. Therefore, replacement is not a promising way to get more reliable estimates of stressor-strain relationships. We argue instead that each method contains both substantive and error variance, and that a combination of various methods seems more auspicious. After discussing advantages and pitfalls of observational, physiological, and self-observational measures, respectively, we report empirical examples from our own research on each of these methods, which are meant to illustrate both the advantages and the problems associated with them. They strengthen the overall conclusion that there is no “substitute” for self-report (which often is necessary to be able to interpret data from other methods, most notably physiological ones). They also illustrate that collecting such data is quite cumbersome, and that a number of conditions have to be carefully considered before using them, and we report some problems we encountered in this research. Altogether, we conclude that self-report measures, if carefully constructed, are better than their reputation, but that the optimal way is to complement them with other measures.

This chapter proposes a more holistic approach to understanding work stress by incorporating eustress, the positive response to stressors. We begin by casting the study of eustress as part of a contemporary movement in both psychology and organizational behavior that accentuates the positive aspects of human adaptation and functioning. We discuss the development of the concept of eustress, and provide extensive evidence, both psychological and physiological, for the purpose of developing an explicit construct definition. An exploratory study of hospital nurses is presented as an initial test of our holistic model of stress. We conclude by asserting that there must exist a complement to coping with distress such that rather than preventing or resolving the negative side of stress, individuals savor the positive side of stress.

This chapter departs from a specific Swedish perspective on structural changes which took place during the 1990s in Sweden. Before this period Sweden had a long period of improving democracy at work. From the start of the 1990s a number of structural changes were – according to national surveys – associated with increasing psychological demands at work. According to the same sources this was followed during the three last years of the 1990s by a reduced decision latitude. The prevalence of work-related psychological problems started to rise when decision latitude started to decrease. A discussion of concepts related to work democracy is followed by a review of the literature on work democracy and health. Finally, strategies for improving democracy and possible health promoting effects of such improvement are discussed.

The occupational stress and well-being literature often focuses on specific causes of stress as health risk factors to be managed, on attributes of work environments that are stressful and/or risky, or on prevention and intervention strategies for managing these causes of stress as well as individual stress responses at work (Quick & Tetrick, 2003). The occupational stress literature has not focused on how executives and organizations can cause positive stress for people at work. In this chapter, we explore a principle-based framework for executive action to create positive, constructive stress for people at work.

The first major section of the chapter discusses seven contextual factors within which the principle-based framework is nested. The second major section of the chapter develops nine principles for executive action. The third and concluding section of the chapter turns the focus to a set of guidelines for executive action in managing their personal experience of stress.

Neal M. Ashkanasy has a Ph.D. in Social and Organizational Psychology from the University of Queensland, and has research interests in leadership, organizational culture, and business ethics. In recent years, his research has focused on the role of emotions in organizational life. He has published his work in journals such as the Academy of Management Review, the Academy of Management Executive, and the Journal of Management, and is co-editor of three books: The Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate (Sage) and Emotions in the Workplace; Theory, Research, and Practice (Quorum); Managing Emotions in the Workplace (ME Sharpe). He is a past Chair of the Managerial and Organizational Cognition Division of the Academy of Management.Claire E. Ashton-James is completing an Honors degree in Business Management through the University of Queensland Business School. Her undergraduate degree majors were in philosophy, music, and psychology. Her present research interest is in the role of the impact of cognitive information processing capacity on emotion regulation and social functioning.Cary L. Cooper is Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health, Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University. He is the author of over 80 books and over 300 academic journal articles. He is Founding Editor, Journal of Organizational Behavior; Co-Editor, medical journal Stress & Health; and former Co-Editor, International Journal of Management Review. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, The Royal Society of Arts, The Royal Society of Medicine, The Royal Society of Health, and an Academician of the Academy for the Social Sciences. He is President of the British Academy of Management and a Companion of the (British) Institute of Management. He is a Fellow of the (American) Academy of Management and recipient of its 1998 Distinguished Service Award. Professor Cooper was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his contribution to health.Russell Cropanzano is Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Department of Management and Policy of the University of Arizona. Dr. Cropanzano is a member of the Academy of Management, the American Psychological Society, and the Society of Organizational Behavior. He is a fellow in the Society of Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Dr. Cropanzano is also active internationally, having given talks in Australia, France, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. His research interests include workplace emotions and organizational justice.Achim Elfering is research fellow for the psychology of work and organizations at the University of Berne, Switzerland. He graduated with a Masters degree in psychology from the University of Wuerzburg, Germany. He received his Ph.D. in general psychology at the University of Frankfurt, Germany. His research interests include job stress, physiological stress responses, and in particular associations between psychosocial work factors and low back pain. His other research interests include personality, social support, job satisfaction, socialization and selection. In 2001, he received the 3rd Annual SPINE Journal Young Investigator Research Award.Steven M. Elias is an Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at Western Carolina University. Dr. Elias is a member of both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society. Currently, Dr. Elias publishes empirical research in several areas related to perceived self-efficacy and social power.Joanne H. Gavin is Assistant Professor in the School of Management, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York. She was the recipient of the Otto Alois Faust Doctoral Fellowship in Character and Health (2000–2002) and earned her Ph.D. in organizational behavior at the University of Texas at Arlington. Ms. Gavin earned her M.B.A. and B.S. in Business Administration at the University of New Orleans. Her research interest is in the area of personal character, decision making and executive health. She is co-author of articles appearing in the Academy of Management Executive, Applied Psychology: International Review and the Academy of Management Journal. Dr. Gavin is also co-author of several chapters in books such as International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Psychology Builds a Healthy World. In 2001, she presented a paper entitled “Transcendent decision-making: Defining the role of virtue-based character in the decision-making process” at the Society for Business Ethics.Simone Grebner is senior research fellow for the psychology of work and organizations at the University of Berne, Switzerland. She graduated with a Master’s degree in psychology from the University of Wuerzburg, Germany. She earned her Ph.D. in work psychology from the University of Berne. Her primary research interests include job stress, job analysis, emotion work, and well-being, with a particual emphasis on psychoneuroendocrine and cardiovascular stress responses.Wayne A. Hochwarter is Associate Professor of Management at Florida State University. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Hochwarter was on the faculty at Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama. He has published over 70 articles and book chapters in the areas that include organizational politics, social influence, job stress, and dispositional factors. His work has appeared in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Journal of Vocational Behavior, and Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management. Dr. Hochwarter’s current research interests include social influence in organizations, accountability, and the attitudinal consequences of job insecurity of layoff survivors.Peter J. Jordan is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Management at Griffith University, Australia. He gained his Ph.D. in management at the University of Queensland. Peter’s current research interests include emotional intelligence, emotions in organizations, team performance and conflict. He has published in a range of international journals including the Academy of Management Review, Human Resource Management Review, and Advances in Developing Human Resources. He has also been invited to deliver presentations to a number of business groups across South East Asia. Prior to entering academia he worked in strategic and operational planning for the Australian Government.Michael P. Leiter is Professor of Psychology and Vice President (Academic) of Acadia University in Canada. He is Director of the Center for Organizational Research & Development that applies high quality research methods to human resource issues confronting organizations. He received degrees in Psychology from Duke University (BA), Vanderbilt University (MA), and the University of Oregon (Ph.D.). He teaches courses on organizational psychology and on stress at Acadia University. The research center provides a lively bridge between university studies and organizational consultation for himself and his students. Dr. Leiter has received ongoing research funding for 20 years from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as well as from international foundations. He is actively involved as a consultant on occupational issues in Canada, the USA, and Europe. The primary focus of his research and consulting work is the relationships that people develop with their work. This work addresses strategies for preventing dysfunctional relationships, such as burnout, as well as for building productive engagement with work.David A. Mack is Assistant Dean for Program Development at the University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Business Administration. He received his Ph.D. from UT Arlington in May 2000. Dr. Mack earned an MBA in Entrepreneurship from DePaul University in 1993. Dr. Mack has published a number of articles and book chapters on job stress, workplace violence, and small business. His Organizational Dynamics article “EDS: An Inside View of a Corporate Life Cycle Transition” examined the spin-off of EDS from General Motors Corporation. He has had extensive management experience in the insurance industry and is co-owner, with his wife, of a financial services marketing/management business in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Dr. Mack teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at UT Arlington and has taught graduate business courses at both DePaul University and Texas Wesleyan University.Christina Maslach is Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. She received her A.B. in Social Relations from Harvard-Radcliffe College, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University. She has conducted research in a number of areas within social and health psychology. However, she is best known as one of the pioneering researchers on job burnout, and the author of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), the most widely used research measure in the burnout field. In addition to numerous articles, she has written several books on this topic. She has also received numerous teaching awards, and in 1997 she received national recognition from the Carnegie Foundation as “Professor of the Year.”Debra L. Nelson, Ph.D. is The CBA Associates Professor of Business Administration and Professor of Management at Oklahoma State University. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Nelson’s research has been published in the Academy of Management Executive, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, MIS Quarterly, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and other journals. Her books include Stress and Challenge at the Top: The Paradox of the Successful Executive, Advancing Women in Management, Preventive Stress Management in Organizations, Gender, Work Stress and Health, and Organizational Behavior: Foundations, Realities, Challenges among others. Her primary research interests are workplace stress and gender issues at work.James Campbell (Jim) Quick is Professor of Organizational Behavior and Director, Doctoral Program in Business Administration, The University of Texas at Arlington. The American Psychological Foundation honored him with the 2002 Harry and Miriam Levinson Award as an outstanding consulting psychologist. He is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Institute of Stress, and was awarded a 2001 APA Presidential Citation. He was Founding Editor of APA’s Journal of Occupational Health Psychology and was APA’s stress expert to the National Academy of Sciences (1990). He is co-author with Debra L. Nelson of Organizational Behavior: Foundations, Realities, and Challenges, 4th Edition (Thompson/Southwestern). He is listed in Who’s Who in the World (7th Edition). He was awarded The Maroon Citation by the Colgate University Alumni Corporation, and The Legion of Merit by the U.S. Air Force. He is married to the former Sheri Grimes Schember.Jonathan D. Quick is Director, Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy (EDM) for the World Health Organization, Geneva. EDM works to ensure for people everywhere access to safe, effective, good quality essential drugs that are prescribed and used rationally. He joined WHO in 1995 after 20 years in international health, serving in Pakistan, Kenya, and over 18 other countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He has authored or edited ten books, including as senior editor of Managing Drug Supply (1997/1978), and over 40 articles and chapters on essential drugs, public health, and stress management. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Family Practice, and a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Medicine (UK) and the American College of Preventive Medicine. He earned an A.B. degree magna cum laude from Harvard University and a M.D. degree with distinction in research and a M.P.H. from the University of Rochester.Norbert Semmer is professor for the psychology of work and organizations at the University of Berne, Switzerland. He earned his Ph.D. from the Technical University of Berlin and worked for the Technical University of Berlin, and the German Federal Health Office in Berlin before moving to Berne. He has a long standing interest in stress at work and its relationship to health, in recent years with a special emphasis on low back pain. He has also published about job satisfaction, the development of efficient strategies in groups, on human error, and on the transition of young people into work. He is a member of the editorial board of the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, the Zeitschrift für Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie, and the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, and he served as Associate Editor for Applied Psychology. An International Review from 1992 to 1998, and for the Psychologische Rundschau from 1995 to 1998.Arie Shirom is Professor of Organizational Behavior and Health Care Management at the Faculty of Management, Tel Aviv University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has published several reviews on burnout, burnout and health, organization development, and the impact of stress on employee health, each including a section describing his past research in the respective area. These reviews are downloadable from his internet site at Tel Aviv University. He is currently funded by the Israel Science Foundation to conduct a large scale, four-year study on the effects of positive emotions, including vigor, on employee health.Bret L. Simmons is Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business at North Dakota State University. He received his Ph.D. in Management from Oklahoma State University. Dr. Simmons is a member of the Academy of Management, the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. His research interests include eustress and positive psychology at work.Tores Theorell, M.D., Ph.D. is a world-renowned lecturer and widely published pioneer in psychosocial factors research. He is Director of the National Institute for Psychosocial Factors and Health and Professor of Psychosocial Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. His research interests include psychosocial factors, health, and occupational stress.Howard M. Weiss is Professor of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. He is also co-director of Purdue’s Military Family Research Institute, which is funded by the Department of Defense and dedicated to studying the relationships between quality of life and job satisfaction, retention and performance. He received his Ph.D. from New York University. His research interests focus on the emotions in the workplace and on job attitudes.

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Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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