Managing Work, Family, and School Roles: Disengagement Strategies Can Help and Hinder

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The extent to which individuals manage multiple role domains has yet to be fully understood. We advance past research by examining the effect of interrole conflict among three very common and critically important life roles—work, family, and school—on three corresponding types of satisfaction. Further, we examine individual-based techniques that can empower people to manage multiple roles. In doing so, we integrate the disengagement strategies from the work recovery and coping literatures. These strategies focus on taking your mind off the problems at hand and include cognitive disengagement (psychological detachment, cognitive avoidance coping), as well as cognitive distortion (escape avoidance coping). We examine these strategies in a two-wave study of 178 individuals faced with the challenge of managing work, family, and school responsibilities. Findings demonstrated a joint offsetting effect of psychological detachment and cognitive avoidance coping on the relationship between work conflict and work satisfaction. Findings also indicated an exacerbating effect of escape avoidance coping on the relationship between work conflict and work satisfaction, school conflict and school satisfaction, and between family conflict and family satisfaction. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

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