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Title: The recovery process : the role of work beliefs and interruptions at work
Author: Zoupanou, Zoe
ISNI:       0000 0004 2716 6211
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2012
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Few studies have explored the factors that are involved in the area of work recovery. The present thesis examined the relationships between interruptions at work, work beliefs, work rumination and wellbeing. Four studies were conducted. The first study, (chapter 2) examined what is called Zeigarnik phenomenon. The Zeigarnik phenomenon asserts that uncompleted tasks (or interrupted tasks) are better remembered than completed ones. To test this theory a pilot study was conducted with 47 participants, and participants were asked to complete an anagram task. Findings showed that participants recalled more uncompleted problems relative to completed ones, thus supporting the Zeigarnik phenomenon. The aim of Study 2 was to build on these findings and examine whether the Zeigarnik phenomenon can be detected in a working population. One hundred and twenty two workers completed questionnaire measures and the interruption item of the Effort-Reward Imbalance Questionnaire was used to assess the effects of work related interruptions on wellbeing. It was found that affective rumination partially mediated and moderated the relationship between appraisal of work interruptions as distressing and increased physical symptoms reporting. Study 3 explored the experience of work related interruptions and semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight managers. Using thematic analysis, five themes were identified: (1) attitudes towards work interruptions, (2) interruption management: coping strategies, (3) unwinding from work interruptions, (4) responses towards work interruptions and (4) work values. In addition, and unexpectedly, the managers accepted work interruptions "as part of the job" and held work beliefs in centrality of work and time saving. Leading on from study 3, the aim of study 4 was to develop a new measure to assess interruptions. The Interruption scale measured attitudes towards interruptions at work, and an exploratory study identified two factors: the negative appraisal of work interruptions and the positive appraisal of work interruptions. Study 4b was conducted among 310 white-collar employees in order to test the measure developed in Study 4a. Belief in anti-leisure partially mediated the positive relationship between appraisal of work interruptions as negative and better general health, and reduced physical symptoms reporting. Time saving partially mediated the relationship between appraisal of work interruptions as positive and decreased problem solving rumination, whereas leisure as a full mediator increased problem solving rumination when interruptions were appraised as positive or negative. With respect to the appraisal of work interruptions as negative, affective rumination, as a full mediator, increased physical symptoms and decreased general health reports, whereas detachment from work yielded better physical and general health. Moreover, centrality of work and leisure interacted with the appraisal of work interruptions as negative and increased problem solving rumination, whereas delay of gratification reduced problem solving rumination when work interruptions were perceived as positive. With respect to the appraisal of interruptions as positive, hard work and self reliance resulted in detachment from work issues, and employees endorsing beliefs in hard work and disregard of morality/ethics reported better general health and decreased physical symptoms. The findings are discussed in terms of their impact on wellbeing and recovery and also address the importance of restructuring work beliefs in leisure, time saving and hard work. The final chapter summarized the main findings of the thesis, and discusses strengths, limitations and possible future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available