Project #74981 - Psychology/Workrelated Stress

Stress Due to Work Overload...and Underload

Read the following summary of research related to work overload and underload. What kind of work do you plan to do when you graduate? Describe what you think a typical day will be like. If you are not sure, do some research by checking the internet or talking to one of your professors (be sure to properly cite any references that you use). Do you think that your work might lead to overload or underload? Describe which one you might suspect and why. Based on your readings from the chapter how might you cope with job stress? The assignment should at least 2 pages, typed, double-spaced and in Times New Roman or Arial font. The assignment will be graded on spelling, grammar, and following directions (5 points) your understanding of the topic, and the development and persuasiveness of your arguments based on how well you answer each of the four questions (9 points each question).

A Case of Job Overload

Stan was a counselor in a community mental health center in the Midwest for three years. When he started working there, he was a 23-year-old who described himself as an “eager, open-minded, caring person.” He chose this job in order to serve others who were unable to make it on their own without a little help from a friendly therapist. At first, the job was challenging and rewarding. Stan was intervening in crisis situations to give advice, guidance, and emotional support to many clients in distress. There were rape victims, abused spouses, suicidal callers, depressed aged, alienated youth, and a host of others who just could not cope any longer with life’s demands.

But the initial glow of his job dimmed as the clients began to overwhelm Stan with their seemingly endless complaints, hurts, and fears. They were getting to him. He was too personally involved, not able to detach his emotional concern from his professional obligation.

He began drinking heavily after work and taking tranquilizers to relax enough to go to sleep each night. Headaches became frequent, his blood pressure shot up, and his sick-leave time was used to its limit. Stan developed an ulcer that required medication and a change in diet. His once outgoing personality became marked by its somber, cynical, and easily irritated nature. He was no longer any fun for his family or friends to be with, so they avoided him.

Stan had underestimated the emotional strain of caring for others day in and day out. His case load was more than he could handle adequately. The paperwork, red tape, and lack of support from the staff added frustration to his escalating emotional overload. When he was successful, the clients never returned to say “thanks”; other problem persons just filled their vacant folders.

Stan reacted to this stressful situation at many levels. His body rebelled with assorted symptoms of distress, including headaches, high blood pressure, and ulcers. He tried to suppress his agitation, anxiety, and anger by abusing drugs and alcohol. His outlook on life and his self-esteem spiraled downward. He gave too much at the office and so had little left to share with loved ones at home. In turn, they withdrew some of the social support Stan needed. For a while, the only exit out of his dilemma was marked “suicide.” Fortunately, he rejected that alternative as too final. He did not have enough energy and resources to try to change the structure of the job, so in desperation he took the other exit marked “escape.” He went back to school, completed his Ph.D., and now is happily working as a consultant on problems of job stress and constructive ways of overcoming it.

Job Underload and Stress

If overload does not get you, underload might. People are not ever bored to death by their jobs, but there is good evidence that they can be “bored to sickness.” Researchers at the Institute for Social Research of the University of Michigan found that boring jobs are hardest on health (Caplan et al., 1975).

In this study of over 2,000 males in 23 different occupations, the researchers found that general working conditions (hours worked, quantitative work load) had less effect on job dissatisfaction than personal factors such as opportunities to use one’s skills and to participate in decision making. As job dissatisfaction increases, so do anxiety, depression, irritation, and psychosomatic illnesses. Assembly-line workers have boring jobs, but ones that do not involve long hours, unwanted overtime, much concentration, or responsibility. They report the most dissatisfaction with their job and show the greatest stress-related disorders. By contrast, family physicians who work the most hours per week (an average of 55), with much demand for their free time, mental concentration, and personal responsibility are most satisfied with their jobs. They also have the fewest somatic complaints or other stress effects of any occupation studied. The ratings of the boredom levels of 15 of these occupations are given in the table below, with a rating of 100 indicating “average boredom.”

Boredom Ratings

Assembler (work paced by machine) 207

Forklift-truck driver 170

Assembler (working at own pace) 160

Monitor of continuous flow goods 122

Accountant 107

Engineer 100

Computer programmer 96

Electronic technician 87

White-collar supervisor 72

Scientist 66

Administrator 66

Police Officer 63

Air-traffic controller (large airport) 59

Professor 49

Physician 48

But perhaps not having a job when you want one is worse than having a stress-producing one. When health statistics are related to economic cycles over a 127-year period in the United States, it can be shown that increased deaths follow periods of economic depression two to four years later. This research points up the importance of the political, economic, and social context of behavior.

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Due By (Pacific Time) 06/28/2015 12:00 am
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