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Change in Job Conditions, Change in Psychological Distress, and Gender: A Longitudinal Study of Dual-Earner Couples

Rosalind C. Barnett and Robert T. Brennan
Journal of Organizational Behavior
Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, 1997), pp. 253-274
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3100144
Page Count: 22
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Change in Job Conditions, Change in Psychological Distress, and Gender: A Longitudinal Study of Dual-Earner Couples
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Abstract

Building on the Job-Strain Theory, we estimated three relationships in a random sample of 201 full-time employed men and women in dual-earner couples interviewed three times over a 2-year period. We first estimated the main effects relationships between change over time in employees' experiences of job demands and job control and change over time in psychological distress. Then we estimated the interaction effects relationship of change in job demands on the relationship between change in job control and change in distress. Finally, we estimated the interaction effects of gender on these relationships. Job control was disaggregated into two conceptually distinct job conditions: skill discretion and decision authority. Controlling for other potentially stressful job conditions such as pay adequacy, job security, and relations with supervisor, as well as trait anxiety (an indicator of negative affectivity), change over time in job demands and skill discretion, but not decision authority, was related to change over time in psychological distress. Equally, for full-time employed women and men in dual-earner couples, if concerns about having to do dull, monotonous work increase over time, distress increases; if concerns about having to work under pressure of time and conflicting demands increase over time, distress increases. Finally, neither average skill discretion nor change over time in skill discretion moderated the relationship between job demands and psychological distress. Thus, at every level of skill discretion, high job demands were related to high distress.

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