Should You Switch Off or Stay Engaged? The Consequences of Thinking About Work on the Trajectory of Psychological Well-Being Over Time

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Abstract

This study examined how 2 different ways of being mentally engaged with work-related issues during evenings (affective rumination and problem-solving pondering) cause changes in psychological well-being over a 1-year period. We conducted a 3-wave longitudinal study with a time lag of 6 months between each wave. At the first measurement moment, participants filled out a survey over 5 consecutive working days assessing work-related affective rumination and problem-solving pondering during evenings. Exhaustion and health complaints were assessed at the first measurement moment as well as after 6 and 12 months. The 3 waves of data obtained from a total of 123 participants with full-time and primarily mentally demanding jobs were analyzed using latent growth curve modeling (LGM). The results showed that affective rumination is a significant predictor of increase in exhaustion over time. Problem-solving pondering was not found to be a significant predictor of change in psychological well-being over time. These findings demonstrate that work-related rumination during evenings may lead to health problems over time depending on the type of rumination. It suggests that unlike affective rumination, problem-solving pondering during evenings has no influence on psychological well-being over time.

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