What is it about?

We know that workaholism is characterized by compulsive overwork and that workaholics feel bad (anger, anxiety, guilt, etc) when they cannot work as much as they want to. But how do they feel during work? Do they enjoy their work time? Results have been mixed so far. Here, we recruited 139 full-time back-office workers who reported their compulsive overwork tendencies. Then, we used Experience Sampling Methods (ESM) to sample worker moods six times a day over three workdays (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) during work hours and conducted multilevel analysis on 1500+ responses. We found that workaholics experienced overall darker work-related moods than their colleagues. As expected, worker moods got worse with time spent working and when the workload was higher than usual. But this wasn't the case for workaholics. Unlike their coworkers, workaholics seemed to carry a persistent negative mood throughout the workday, regardless of changes in job demands. Moreover, as a secondary result, we found that workaholic women experienced worse moods than workaholic men.

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Why is it important?

This work provides initial answers to several questions concerning workaholic functioning and the implications of workaholism for individual health and well-being. It suggests that workaholic work-related emotion regulation might be substantially different from that of non-workaholic workers. Are workaholics more work-tolerant? Or are they simply less aware of/sensitive to the work effort? More research is needed to answer these questions but we believe that our results might be more likely explained by workaholics' difficulties in emotion regulation. Concerning gender differences, we believe our results are connected to gender role expectations: social norms that are still rooted in our societies, based on which men should invest in work and women should focus on home duties. This might result in stronger internal conflicts in workaholic women compared to men, implying the worse affective responses that we found for the former compared to the latter.


I hope this article might serve to improve workaholics' awareness (including sometimes also myself) about the potential consequences of their compulsive overwork tendencies, which might be less evident in the short term just because they don't pay enough attention to themselves, but might become serious in the long run.

Dr Luca Menghini
Universita degli Studi di Trento

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Uncovering the main and interacting impact of workaholism on momentary hedonic tone at work: An experience sampling approach., Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, October 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/ocp0000365.
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