Job demands, job resources, and self-regulatory behavior : exploring the issue of match

M. Tooren, van den

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 1 (Research TU/e / Graduation TU/e)

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Abstract

In the field of Industrial and Organizational psychology, several job stress models have been developed that aim to explain the relation between job demands, job resources, and job strain. One of these job stress models is the Demand-Induced Strain Compensation (DISC) Model. The aim of this thesis was to test two key assumptions underlying the DISC Model. The first key assumption was that specific types of job demands (i.e. cognitive, emotional, and physical job demands) can best be dealt with through the activation of job resources that correspond to the type of job demands concerned (i.e. matching job resources) rather than job resources that do not correspond to the type of job demands concerned (i.e. non-matching job resources). The second key assumption was that workers who are confronted with a specific type of demanding situation at work, are generally inclined to use matching job resources to deal with these job demands. To test these two key assumptions, five studies were designed that together make up a triptych. In the first part of the triptych, the first key assumption was tested (Chapter 2). The second key assumption was tested in the second and third part of the triptych. This latter assumption was tested from two different perspectives. More specifically, in the second part of the triptych (Chapters 3 and 4), two studies were designed to gain a better understanding of the self-regulation processes involved in the activation of job resources (i.e. alertness to available job resources, evaluation of the relevance of job resources, and decision making regarding the actual use of job resources). In the third part of the triptych (Chapters 5 and 6), the moderating effect of worker’s personal characteristics (i.e. specific active coping styles and regulatory focus) on the stress-buffering effect of job resources was examined, assuming that these person variables facilitate/inhibit the activation of job resources in demanding situations at work. The studies in Chapters 2 to 6 are summarized below. A review of 29 DISC studies (Chapter 2) was conducted to test both the matching hypothesis (i.e. moderating effects of job resources are more likely to occur in case of a match between job demands and job resources than in case of a non-match) and its extended version, the triple match principle (i.e. the likelihood of finding moderating effects of job resources increases as the level of match between demands, resources, and outcomes increases). Results showed that the matching hypothesis and the triple match principle were partly supported with respect to the stress-buffering effect of job resources, whereas no support was found with respect to the activation-enhancing effect of job resources. In Chapter 3, a quasi-experimental survey study with vignettes was conducted among 217 Dutch service workers. The aim of this study was to examine workers' beliefs about the availability, relevance, and use of specific types of job resources in similar types of demanding situations at work. Results revealed that workers who are faced with high job demands generally opt for matching job resources, both in terms of relevance and use. However, despite their preference for matching job resources, workers were also inclined to use less functional non-matching job resources. Because the activation of non-matching job resources seems to be an important aspect of people’s self-regulatory behavior in demanding situations at work, a second vignette study was conducted among 92 undergraduates from a Dutch university of technology (Chapter 4). The aim of this study was to examine the extent to which people would use non-matching job resources as a substitute for matching job resources, and as a supplement to matching job resources. Results showed that, in case of high job demands, people were generally inclined to use matching job resources, and that they would use non-matching job resources more often as a supplement to matching job resources than as a substitute for matching job resources. In Chapter 5, a longitudinal survey study was conducted among 317 Belgian teachers. The aim of this study was to examine whether stress-buffering effects of job resources on the longitudinal relation between job demands and job strain are more likely to occur for workers with a specific active coping style that corresponds to the type of job resources concerned than workers with a specific active coping style that does not correspond to the type of job resources concerned. Three types of active coping styles were distinguished (i.e. cognitive, emotional, and physical active coping styles). However, because neither type of active coping style interacted with job resources to moderate the longitudinal relation between job demands and job strain, there was no statistical rationale for testing the synergistic effect of matching (versus non-matching) active coping styles. In Chapter 6, a daily diary study was conducted among 64 Dutch nursing home nurses to examine whether within-person stress-buffering effects of job resources on the short-term relation between job demands and job strain (i.e. at day level) are more likely to be found for workers who are predominantly promotion focused than workers who are predominantly prevention focused. Results revealed that regulatory focus did not make a significant contribution to the prediction of job strain, implying that there was no support for the moderating effect of regulatory focus. In all, the studies in this thesis suggested that, as far as the stress-buffering effect of job resources is concerned, matching job resources are more functional resources than non-matching job resources to deal with specific types of demanding situations at work. In addition, it can be concluded that, in case of high job demands, people generally seem to have a strong preference for matching job resources, both in terms of relevance and use. Although the activation of non-matching job resources also appears to be an important aspect of people’s self-regulatory behavior in demanding situations at work, non-matching job resources seem particularly likely to be used as a supplement to matching job resources rather than as a substitute for matching job resources. Worker’s personal characteristics (i.e. specific active coping styles and regulatory focus) did not moderate the stress-buffering effect of job resources, suggesting that the activation of job resources does not relate to these particular person variables. In anticipation of future research on the DISC Model, it can therefore be tentatively concluded that the DISC Model as it stands now seems warranted, regarding both the key assumption the DISC Model’s predictions have been based on and the type of predictors (i.e. job characteristics) included in the model.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences
Supervisors/Advisors
  • de Jonge, Jan, Promotor
  • Dormann, C., Copromotor, External person
Award date9 Feb 2011
Place of PublicationEindhoven
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-90-386-2416-7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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