Life A Mess? Most People Blame Their Jobs First

Life A Mess? Most People Blame Their Jobs First

2011-06-03 10:13:12

If you have a family and a job, chances are there is some degree of conflict between the two. So which is more responsible for the friction, the job or the family? Most Americans blame their job first, family second and themselves last, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by Elizabeth M. Poposki, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, examined individual incidents of work-family conflict and tracked how blame for this conflict is attributed.

Sixty-four percent of those surveyed blamed work, not family, for their feelings of conflict. Twenty-two percent blamed only their family. Five percent blamed external factors other than work or family, and only 6 percent placed all the blame on themselves. Only 3 percent of those surveyed divided the blame evenly between both work and family. Interestingly enough, there were no gender differences in how blame was assigned.

Poposki also found that those who attribute conflict to external sources rather than blaming the conflict on themselves were more likely to experience anger and frustration following the conflict. In other words, if you blame someone or something other than yourself, you get more riled up about the situation. You go a little easier on yourself and others when you take the responsibility on your own shoulders.

And the angrier you are, the more likely you are to engage in negative workplace behavior such as employee theft, according to Poposki. Some people reason that “this job is wreaking havoc with my family, so the company owes me a little something extra.”

The study, called “The Blame Game: Exploring the Nature and Correlates of Attributions Following Work-Family Conflict,” goes into quite a bit of depth in regards to the results of placing blame, at home or at work. “This understanding may be important to future studies of the negative emotional reactions to work-family conflict including anger, frustration, shame and guilt,” says Poposki.

As certain politicians have recently demonstrated, shame and guilt at home can’t help but cross over into the workplace, and vice versa. Owning up to personal responsibility for the conflict helps in both spheres. – By Lisa Johnson Mandell


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