The Jingle-Jangle of Work–Nonwork Balance: A Comprehensive and Meta-Analytic Review of Its Meaning and Measurement

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Abstract

We review research on work–nonwork balance to examine the presence of the jingle fallacy—attributing different meanings to a single construct label—and the jangle fallacy—using different labels for a single construct. In 290 papers, we found 233 conceptual definitions that clustered into 5 distinct, interpretable types, suggesting evidence of the jingle fallacy. We calculated Euclidean distances to quantify the extent of the jingle fallacy and found high divergence in definitions across time and publication outlet. One exception was more agreement recently in better journals to conceptualize balance as unidimensional, psychological, and distinct from conflict and enrichment. Yet, over time many authors have committed the jangle fallacy by labeling measures of conflict and/or enrichment as balance, and disagreement persists even in better journals about the meanings attributed to balance (e.g., effectiveness, satisfaction). To examine the empirical implications of the jingle and jangle fallacies, we conducted meta-analyses of distinct operational definitions of balance with job, life, and family satisfaction. Effect sizes for conflict and enrichment measures were typically smaller than effects for balance measures, providing evidence of a unique balance construct that is not interchangeable with conflict and enrichment. To begin to remedy concerns raised by our review, we propose a definition of work–nonwork balance drawing from theory, empirical evidence from our review, and normative information about how balance should be defined. We conclude with a theory-based agenda for future research.

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