Work stress and negative affectivity: a multi-method study

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Abstract

Background

In the literature negative affectivity (NA) is considered both a confounding variable as well as a predictive variable for work-related stress. However, a common limitation in this line of research relates to the use of self-report measures for determining NA, perceived stressors and psychophysical strain.

Aims

To test, using a multi-method study, a theoretical model that correlates NA, perceived interpersonal conflict (with co-workers and supervisors), psychophysical strain and medically certified sickness absences.

Methods

A multi-method prospective study was carried out on a sample of metalworkers. NA and interpersonal conflict were determined using self-report (Time 1), whereas psychophysical strain was determined by an occupational physician (Time 2). Data on medically certified sickness absences were collected from the company’s database (Time 3).

Results

There were 326 participants. The results showed an association between NA and conflict with co-workers, as well as between NA and conflict with supervisors. Psychophysical strain could be predicted from NA and conflict with co-workers but not from conflict with supervisors. NA had a significant indirect effect on psychophysical strain through conflict with co-workers. Lastly, psychophysical strain predicted sickness absences from work.

Conclusions

NA influenced psychophysical strain in the worker, both directly and indirectly, through perceived conflict with co-workers.

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