Title page for ETD etd-11142007-121433

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Vogel, Fergus Ruric
URN etd-11142007-121433
Document Title Stress in the workplace : the phenomenon, some key correlates and problem solving approaches
Degree PhD (Psychology)
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Prof R P de la Rey
  • workplace aggression
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • worry
  • problem-focused coping
  • social problem solving; quantitative analysis
  • wellbeing
  • workplace
  • stress
Date 2007-09-05
Availability unrestricted

In this study the researcher set out to determine the levels and the causes of workplace stress, as well as the consequences of stress in terms of witnessed and experienced aggression in the workplace, anxiety, depression, and worry for a sample of 205 subjects. To achieve this, the following tests were used: 1) Experience of Work and Life Circumstances Questionnaire, 2) the Aggression in the Workplace Questionnaire, 3) the IPAT Anxiety Scale,4) the Beck Depression Inventory, and 5) the Penn State Worry Questionnaire. The subjects’ ability to cope withexperienced stressors in relation to social problem solving was examined with the Social Problem-Solving Inventory-Revised. The raw data were analysed by means of the usual descriptivestatistics. In addition, inferential statistics including z-tests, t-tests, analysis of variance and posthoc analyses (Scheffé) were conducted for the following groups: total group, gender, marital status, age, organizational type, qualification and position level.

Results indicate that most of the subjects in the sample experienced normal levels of stress, indicating that the participants generally experienced their circumstances within or outside the workplace as satisfactory. Generally, the results also indicated that their expectations regarding their work situation were met. With reference to the consequences of stress, the total sample reported low levels of witnessing and experiencing workplace aggression, normal levels of anxiety, low levels of depression and worry. Good overall social problem solving suggests the ability to cope with demands and stressors within and outside the workplace. Generally, Pearson correlations indicated significant relationships between a) levels of stress as experienced by subjects and b) witnessed and experienced workplace aggression, c) anxiety, d) depression, e) worry and f) social problem solving.

That most of the subjects in this sample were able to deal effectively with the demands and stressors placed on them, from within and outside the workplace suggests the ability to use effective problem-focused coping involving social problem solving which for most participants, was due to a positive problem orientation and effective rational problem solving skills. These findings may be useful as part of a stress management programme to help employees deal with stress proactively by becoming more effective problem-solvers. In terms of a salutogenic paradigm, and consistent with recent developments in positive psychology, the findings indicate that more attention should be paid to possible reasons why some employees appear to cope with stress more effectively than others.

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