Work-family enrichment: The role of work eustress in spillover of positive psychological states

Date of Completion

January 2006


Psychology, Industrial|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies




Work and family are life's central roles for most individuals, yet the relationship between these roles often is regarded as a source of distress, to the extent that work and family are assumed adversaries. Recently, researchers have recognized the personal benefits yielded from maintaining both work and family roles. Although positive spillover from the work domain to the family domain has positive implications for individuals, the drivers of spillover require theoretical and empirical examination. In response, the purpose of the current study is to understand work eustress or "good stress" as a source of positive psychological states in the work domain that are transferred to the family domain. To assess the promising role of work eustress in the context of work-family enrichment, I proposed and tested a model of its antecedents and outcomes. Participants were recruited from an Internet database of individuals who expressed interest in participating in web-based academic research studies. Anonymous web-based surveys were administered in two waves that were separated by a three-week lag (i.e., Time 1 and Time 2). The final sample of 889 full-time workers was randomly split into two sub-samples: (1) a calibration sample to test the theoretical model (n = 600) and (2) a validation sample (n = 289). Both samples were analyzed with structural equation modeling. As expected, core self-evaluations and performing a demanding job well predicted work eustress. Higher eustress was associated with increased job satisfaction and affective work-to-family positive spillover. In turn, work-to-family positive spillover positively influenced family satisfaction. Both job satisfaction and family satisfaction led to life satisfaction. In addition, several unpredicted paths were discovered. First, individuals who performed a demanding job well expressed less job satisfaction. Second, core self-evaluations positively influenced family satisfaction and life satisfaction. The final model demonstrated acceptable fit to the data from the calibration sample and was validated with the second sample. The results of the current study shed light on the emergence of positive psychological states in the work domain with implications beyond work. In the pursuit of optimal human functioning, researchers and practitioners are encouraged to strengthen the positive impact of work.^