The Role of Individual Differences in Occupational Stress and Well Being: Volume 9


Table of contents

(15 chapters)

The concept of resilience has exploded in the popular press covering topics from sports to the environment to the economy. Organizational scholars across disciplines have joined the discussion, but much remains unknown about the ability to build resilience capacity at work. Individual and organizational resilience is challenged by a world in constant flux, and having the ability to navigate unexpected or significant change is vital for success and well-being. This chapter explores several promising avenues of research to gain a better understanding of factors that build resilience capacity at work. We take an interdisciplinary approach to examine leadership, job crafting, and humor, through the lens of sensemaking, as a means to increase resilience capacity.

Critical occupations refer to professions in which workers perform critical duties to protect and serve the public; the nature of these jobs often exposes workers to events and conditions that critically impact their mental and physical well-being. In addition to the traumatic experiences part and parcel to the job, characteristics of these critical occupations – long work hours, nonstandard schedules, dangerous tasks, and a physically demanding work environment – contribute additional stressors. Yet, many workers in these occupations thrive despite the risks. Given the stressful conditions of critical occupations and potential for adverse individual and familial outcomes, it is important to consider why individuals would choose to work in critical occupations, why they might respond differently during stressful work-related events, and why some workers are particularly resilient. We posit that personality research offers intriguing insights into career selection, coping, and resilience for workers in critical occupations. Examining factors that reduce risk and promote resilience for these multiple-stressor occupations has the potential to inform research and policies that better meet the needs of employees and their families.

This chapter examines the role of political skill in relation to employee psychological and physiological health and well-being. First, we begin by providing a review of the current research on the relationship of political skill to stress and strain; additionally, areas in this literature that are in need of greater theoretical specification are identified. A multi-mediation organizing framework is proposed, which suggests that political skill impacts intrapsychic (i.e., constructs residing within an individual such as control, self-esteem) and interpersonal processes (i.e., authenticity, trustworthiness, affability, and humility), which subsequently influence the development and maintenance of work relationships, networks, and coalitions, and ultimately affects individual psychological and physiological health and well-being. The implications of this framework, and directions for future research, are discussed.

This chapter presents an investigation of the relationship between psychological entitlement and stress. Empirical and conceptual evidence is considered suggesting that Conservation of Resources (COR) theory may apply differently to employees with a heightened sense of entitlement. Using attribution and COR theory, a conceptual framework is offered predicting that entitlement is positively associated with subjective stress, based on the logic that psychologically entitled employees develop unjustifiably inflated levels of self-evaluative internal coping resources such as self-esteem and self-efficacy that promote unmet expectations. It is also proposed that political skill and the ability to manage perceptions of competency may attenuate this relationship. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the challenges associated with managing psychologically entitled employees.

We link counterproductive work behavior (CWB) (particularly workplace bullying) and organizational citizenship behavior to individual narcissism and organizational culture. We link counterproductive work culture in turn to organizations' leader(s), enumerating multiple roles an executive may play: actor, target, ignorer, enabler, rewarder, or, ultimately, champion of change. Both positive (citizenship) and negative (counterproductive) behaviors are associated with narcissism, a complex, multifaceted set of personality characteristics, primarily based on the individual's cognitive interpretation of self and the world. Theoretical interpretations of reactive CWB (stressor-emotion-control theory) and instrumental CWB (theory of planned behavior) support the development of coaching and counseling interventions. Cognitive behavioral theory (CBT)-based prescriptive executive coaching is proposed as a promising mechanism for redirecting narcissistic organizational players from counterproductive to citizenship schemas and behaviors.

Research in industrial and organizational psychology demonstrates that the regulation of negative emotions in response to both organizational stressors and interpersonal workplace interactions can result in functional and dysfunctional outcomes (Côté, 2005; Diefendorff, Richard, & Yang, 2008). Research on the regulation of negative emotions has additionally been conducted in social psychology, developmental psychology, neuropsychology, health psychology, and clinical psychology. A close reading of this broader literature, however, reveals that the conceptualization and use of the term “emotion regulation” varies within each research field as well as across these fields. The main focus of our chapter is to make sense of the term “emotion regulation” in the workplace by considering its use across a broad range of psychology disciplines. We then develop an overarching theoretical framework using disambiguating terminology to highlight what we argue are the important constructs involved in the process of intrapersonal emotion generation, emotional experience regulation, and emotional expression regulation in the workplace (e.g., emotional intelligence, emotion regulation strategies, emotion expression displays). We anticipate this chapter will enable researchers and industrial and organizational psychologists to identify the conditions under which functional regulation outcomes are more likely to occur and then build interventions around these findings.

Given the increasing global focus of many aspects of our society, researchers have taken significant steps in understanding the impact of culture on various psychological states. This review focuses on the stressor–strain relationships within the context of cross-cultural and cross-national studies. Using research findings from the United States as a baseline, we identify common and unique themes concerning the stressor–strain relationships between different countries, and clarify the differences between cross-national and cross-cultural studies. Furthermore, we consider cross-cultural and cross-national occupational stress research from an individual differences perspective. We encourage future studies to adopt this perspective and carefully consider the implications of cultural values on occupational stress research at the individual, group, and country levels.

Samantha K. Baard holds a University Distinguished Fellowship in Michigan State University's Ph.D. program in organizational psychology. Her research interests include individual and team adaptability, leadership, motivation, cross-cultural differences, and stress. She is also examining, from a statistical and methodological perspective, the dynamic processes of motivation, feedback, and performance. As a University Scholar at George Mason University, she investigated the interactive effects of leadership and motivation on individual performance. She spent three years working as a research fellow at the Consortium of Research Fellows Program where she worked with the U. S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences studying team effectiveness, cross-cultural competence, leadership, and motivation. She has served as a guest lecturer at several colleges, and has presented her research at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology's Annual Conference.

Publication date
Book series
Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN