Journal of Business and Psychology
Work is frequently on the minds of employees—even during evenings, weekends, and vacations. The present study is the first comprehensive meta-analysis of off-job work-related thoughts (WRTs; i.e., thoughts employees have about work when they are not at work). We were particularly interested in comparing off-job positive and negative work-related thoughts (PWRTs and NWRTs; i.e., thoughts about positive/negative work experiences or characteristics) to each other and other off-job WRT constructs, which we integrated into a typology. We coded 520 effect sizes from 171 independent samples (N = 58,682) and conducted a random-effects, individual-correction meta-analysis. We found that PWRTs and NWRTs were unrelated, and psychological detachment was negatively related to NWRTs but unrelated to PWRTs. Furthermore, PWRTs and NWRTs exhibited significantly different relationships with various antecedents (e.g., age, negative affectivity) and outcomes (e.g., work engagement, burnout). Compared to PWRTs and NWRTs, psychological detachment and problem-solving pondering exhibited generally weaker relationships with outcomes. NWRTs contaminated with negative affective strains (i.e., negative work-related thoughts and feelings) exhibited generally stronger relationships with outcomes. Overall, our meta-analytic findings indicate that PWRTs and NWRTs are different and underscore the importance of empirically and conceptually separating PWRTs and NWRTs from each other and other off-job WRT constructs. The findings also complement the nascent literature on interventions that target promoting PWRTs and reducing NWRTs.
Jimenez, William P.; Hu, Xiaoxiao; and Xu, Xiaohong (Violet), "Thinking About Thinking About Work: A Meta-Analysis of Off-Job Positive and Negative Work-Related Thoughts" (2021). Psychology Faculty Publications. 113.