Spread the love


This study investigated job stress, negative affectivity and type A behaviour as predictors of work-to-family conflict among university lecturers. A cross-sectional survey design was adopted while Multiple Regression was used for the data analysis. A total of 385 copies of the questionnaire were distributed among academic staff of the University of Nigeria Nsukka across six Faculties of the University. Out of the 385 copies distributed, 300 copies were returned for analysis. Participants were obtained through systematic sampling. The age of the participants ranged from 29 to 60 years, and they are comprised of 126 male and 174 female participants.  Instruments used for data collection were: Work-Family Conflict Scale, Job Stress Measure, Positive and Negative Affectivity Scale (negative affectivity dimension) and Type A behaviour Scale. Finding reveals that job stress has been found to predict work-to-family conflict among university lecturers (β = .74, p < .001), negative affectivity was found to predict work-to-family conflict among university lecturers (β = .29, p < .001) and type A behaviour was found to predict work-to-family conflict among university lecturers (β = .30, p < .001).  In trying to proffer solution to the issue raised from the finding of the study, universities need to create a flexible working schedule for its staff as well as establish a counseling departments in its personnel department to enable employees understand and suggest means of handling conflicts that may arise as they engage in their work that might be traced to the family.




Background of the Study

In the contemporary time, it has been generally observed that the working world has changed dramatically. More people in the workforce are more educated; workers are left with higher expectations and about gaining fulfillment at work, and people are working longer hours. Stebbins (2001) points out that the women and men’s roles changed in the workplace and at home.

Over the past several decades, organizational researchers interested in the inter-section between employees’ work and personal lives have primarily focused on the work and family domains (Byron, 2005; Eby, Casper, Lockwood, Bordeaux, & Brinley, 2005). The construct of work-family conflict, also known as inter-role conflict (Byron, 2005) is a situation in which the role pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). Due to pressures arising from the work domains, effectiveness in family domain is hampered by experience in the work domain. In other words, work-to-family conflict occurs when experiences in work role interfere with meeting the requirements and effectiveness in the family role (Edwards & Rothbard, 2000; Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985).

In this 21st century, balancing between work and family demands is becoming an increasingly important issue especially for academic employees and their families. Greenhaus (1985) noted that individuals, who invest more time and other psychological resources in their work, have more work-family conflict, which reduces their quality of life. Empirical evidence also confirms that work-to-family conflict is often a severe stress factor which could result to various negative outcomes, including, impaired well-being (Karatepe & Tekinkus, 2006).

Technological advances such as smart phones and accessible Internet connections for work-based activities have afforded most lecturers to work outside legal working hours, thus giving an impact on the lecturers’ work-family life. In addition, increased demand in university lecturers’ work roles and responsibilities such as quality research, teaching, publication, supervision, innovation and producing high quality graduates etc, has made it difficult for most university lecturers to meet their social and family obligations effectively (Shahid, Amdan, Anisa, Farah, & Hassan, 2016). As a result, many lecturers are beginning to experience increased levels of work-to-family conflict as they juggle work and parenting responsibilities. The concept of work-to-family conflict has been explained by Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, and Rosenthall, (1964) using the role theory frame work. They proposed that the expectation surrounding each of the different roles a person performs can generate inter-role conflict when they involve pressure to dominate the time of the focal person to satisfy all expectations of their work and family roles since each role requires time, energy and commitment. Using this framework, Kahn et al. (1964) defined work family conflict as a form of inter-role conflict in which the role pressures from work and family spheres are mutually incompatible. Such incompatibility is indicated by the fact that participation in the family role is made more difficult by virtue of participation in the work role. Universities have been experiencing major changes, leaving a significant impact in the role and working practices of the academics. Academic jobs have become more challenging in terms of effort and time. With growing institutional demands, accountability and work intensification of 50 to 60 hours per week, workload has become the norm in many universities today (Panatik, Rajab, Sha, Rahman, Yusoff, & Badri, 2012).

Work-family conflict has been conceptualized by Greenhaus and Beutell (1985) on the basis of source of conflict. They divided work-family conflict into three types of conflict, namely, strain-based, behavior-based and time-based conflicts. Strain-based conflict occurs when stress experienced in work role is transferred to the family role, with the consequent strain symptoms (e.g., anxiety, irritability) reducing effectiveness in the second role (Greenhaus, 1985). In behaviour-based conflict, a behaviour that is effective in one role (e.g. an authoritarian interaction style) is inappropriately applied on the other role, reducing one’s effectiveness in the role. Time-based conflict refers to the conflict that arises when the time devoted to work role makes it difficult for the individual to participate in the family role. (Example, some academic work which requires university lecturers to be in the office and work late hours may make it difficult for the lecturer to meet family obligations, like meeting up with an appointment with friends, or picking up a child from school / daycare).

University teaching has traditionally been regarded as a low stress occupation. Although not highly paid, academics have been envied because they enjoyed tenure, light work load, flexibility, ‘perk’ such as overseas trips for study and/or conference purposes and the freedom to pursue their own research interests. During the past fifteen to twenty years many of these advantages seems to have been eroded in Nigerian Universities. Academic salaries have fallen in real terms in relation to current economic crises. Increasing numbers of academic positions are now untenured; work-loads have increased; and academics are under increased pressures to attract external funds for their research and to either ‘publish or perish’. These could expose lecturers to such levels of stress that could force them to deviate from normal functioning (Omoniyi, 2013). Poelmans (2001) found that work-to-family conflict was related to stress and mental health such as psychological strain. For this reason, the stress literature offers so many perspectives to the understanding of the nature of stress which individuals experience at work. However, it is generally accepted that individuals who are trying to fulfill the requirements over their capacities, could experience one form of stress or the other.

Job stress according to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury. Emotions have an important role in job stress, as emotions respond immediately to conditions which are perceived as stressful to individuals (Lazarus, 1991; Lovallo, 1997; Payne, 1999) and they motivate psychological change (Cartwright & Cooper, 1997; Spector 1998).

Job stress is a factor that threatens employees’ health. The English courts have recognized that work related stressors are associated with worker’s mental breakdown and their physical health, and employers are responsible for the health of their employees (Onciul, 1996). According to Selye (1976), stress is seen as the condition that can give rise to discomfort. He goes further to say that stress is the sum of all non – specific effects or factors that can act upon the body. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) shared that stress is a particular relationship between the person and the environment that is appraised by the person as tasking or exceeding the individual’s resources and endangering his or her well-being. Stress come from negative events such as failure in examination, loss of job, death of spouse, work overload or compulsory retirement (Welten, 2000).

Job stress is one of the problems confronting lecturers today due to their work overload in most universities. In reference to job stress, European Commission (2000) defines stress as the emotional, cognitive, behavioural and psychological reaction to aversive and anxious aspects of work, work environments and work organization. It is a state characterized by high levels of arousal, distress and often by feeling of not coping. Though stress is a normal adaptive reaction to threat, it signals danger and prepares us to take defensive action. Job stress gives rise to issues such as work-to-family conflict if not properly or appropriately managed. With the improvements and development of information in this scientific era, competitiveness among university lecturers have become increasingly intense, and as a result of this, many university lecturers have become busier than before. Therefore, stress and work-to-family conflict may be a likely consequence.

Job stress has attracted the attention of psychologists and mental practitioners as a result of high rate of suffering from stress. According to the APA (2007), the top stressors for people in the workplace, in order of importance, are: Low salaries (43 percent), Heavy workloads (43 percent) Lack of opportunity for growth and advancement (43 percent), Unrealistic job expectations (40 percent), Job security (34 percent). Longer working hour is another prime stressor. Almost half of the university lecturers report that their performance is being affected by the stress of working long hours. Working overtime can result in poor mental performance, increased illness and workplace injuries. High level of stress can cause some negative consequences like absenteeism, industrial accidents and injuries (Ganster & Schaubroeck, 1991; Sharpley, Reynolds, Acosta, & Dua, 1996). Also, job stress has been associated with a number of ill-health outcomes, such as cardiovascular diseases (Kivimaki, 2002), musculoskeletal disorders, particularly back problems (Hoogendoom, 2000), and neck-shoulder-arm-wrist-hand problems (Arien, 2001) as well as absence from work (Houtman, 1999). Experts reported that stress levels vary according to occupation, with a number of occupations classified as comparatively high risk to stress (European Foundation, 2010). It is interesting to note, according to European Foundation, (2010) that some occupation stressors trigger the workers (for example, most university lecturers are likely to engage in more and more research and publications in other to gain promotion). Tenibiaje (2005) also noted two risk factors for job stress in Nigeria, and they include quantitative and qualitative demands. The quantitative demands are; work load (heavy work load), quantity of work (demanding type of work), working hours (long working hours), persistent work load, and intensity of work. On the other hand, qualitative demands include; control at work, social relationships at work, and communication within the organization.

Omoniyi (2013) opined that the rate at which universities are established in Nigeria by not only the Federal and State governments but also by individuals and religious bodies is a totally welcome development which informs of the acceptance of education as the essential thrust for individual and national development. This nevertheless, has led each university into setting new goal in a bid to defend its existence as capable of having both competent staff and equally capable of producing the much needed professional manpower required by the nation. These then have placed great challenges on the academic staff which may likely cause stress especially if they are dissatisfied in the course of carrying out their duties.

Extensive evidence demonstrates that negative affect is one of the two broad factors that are dominant in self –reported mood (Watson & Tellegeh, 1985). The construct of negative affectivity (NA) arose from the emotion research literature, and has been described generally as a stable, heritable trait tendency to experience a broad range of negative feelings such as worry, anxiety, self- criticisms, and a negative self- view (Keogh & Reidy, 2000). Clark, Watson, and Mineka, (1994) shared that negative affectivity is a temperamental sensitivity to negative stimuli resulting in feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, guilt and self – dissatisfaction. More simply, people who are seen as higher in negative affectivity tend to experience negative emotions more frequently than people who are lower in negative affectivity. Clark and Watson (1991) stated that negative affectivity contributes to both anxiety and mood disorders. It has been proposed that the sharing of this common factor may explain the similarity between mood disorders and anxiety disorder (Clark et al., 1994) which is frequently seen as most closely reflecting the negative affect construct. Negative affectivity subsumes a variety of negative emotions, which includes; anger, contempt, disgust, and nervousness. Individuals who express high negative affectivity view themselves and a variety of aspects of the world around them in generally negative terms. They are likely to exhibit, on average, higher levels of anger, distress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction, they tend to focus on the unpleasant aspects of themselves, the world, the future, and other people, and also evoke more negative life events (Watson & Clark, 1984). It is considered as negative affectivity when the individuals experience negative effects that resulted from their work environment. In relation, Stoeva, Chiu, and Greenhaus (2002) found that negative affectivity has influenced work-to-family conflict. Negative affectivity elements such as distress, hostility, irritability etc can decrease the happy mood of individuals and can lead to work-to-family conflict.

Several researchers have studied the relationship between negative affectivity and work-to-family conflict. Individuals high in negative affectivity (NA) are described as predisposed to experience aversive mood state, distress, and negative emotions (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). The few studies examining work-to-family conflict and negative affectivity have found that high negative affectivity report greater work-to-family conflict. For example, Frone, Russell, and Cooper (1992) defended that high negative affectivity reports greater work-to-family conflict. Work-to-family conflict has been demonstrated to be greatest in individuals with negative affectivity (Carlson, 1999; Stoeva, 2002). Based on the existing literature, this study predicts that negative affectivity will relate to work-to-family conflict.

In recent years, psychologists have focused attention on the study of Type A behaviour pattern and its relationship with work-to-family conflict. One reason for this interest is that Type A individuals are more than twice likely as type B to experience conflict between work and family roles (Matthews, 1982; Price, 1982). Type A behaviour often includes: hard driving, domineering, aggressive, competitive and rudeness (Jenkins, 1976). In addition, Type A behaviour has some physical characteristics like; tongue clicking, teeth grinding, clinched jaw and tight lips. Rosenman (1991) posited that Type A behaviour pattern indicates three elements; (1) strong competitive orientation; (2) impatience and exaggerated time urgency and (3) high level of anger and hostility. Smith and Brehm (1981) found that Type A individuals want to do things perfectly (example; university lecturers with Type A behaviour pattern would engage in more research work and tasking activities in order to be outstanding). Several researchers believe that Type A behaviour pattern involves a strong need for productivity, hard work and the most challenging work conditions (Feather & Volkmer, 1988; Kirmeyer & Biggers, 1988; Matthews, 1982). Type A individuals have been found to travel more, be more confident about their abilities, work for longer hours and focus too little on relationships putting them at risk of social isolation.

Burke and Weir (1980) argued that the greater the Type A behaviour, the more individuals report their jobs having negative effect on home and personal life, resulting in greater work-to-family conflict. Type A individuals tend to put all their available resources such as time, knowledge and skills to their work and as a result, this may generate conflict between the work and family roles of the individual. Friedman and Rosenman (1974) described the type A behaviour as an action – emotion complex that can be observed in any individual who is aggressively involved in a chronic, incessant struggle to achieve more and more in less time, and if required to do so, against the opposing efforts of other things or other persons. Cumulative research evidence suggests that individuals exhibiting Type A behaviour characteristics (competitiveness, drive, ambition, anger, hostility, irritability, impatience, and time-urgency) will be more likely to develop conflict between their work and family roles, and be highly sensitive to environmental stressors than others who do not exhibit the Type A behaviour characteristics (Chesney & Rosenman, 1980; Choo, 1982; Foriedman & Rosenman, 1974; Glass, 1977; Matthews, 1982; Rosenman, 1986; Sparacino, 1979). Type A individuals that experience a keen sense of time urgency, are more likely to be involved in conflict with co-workers, more over-loaded at work, and more likely to be over-committed than Type B individuals (Baron, 1989; Jamal & Baba, 1991; Strobe, 1991).

Research has shown that Type A behaviour is a multi-dimensional construct that has differential relationships with other variables (Spence, Helmreich & Pred, 1987). Specifically, Spence et al. (1987) described two dimensions of Type A behaviour. The first is labeled achievement strivings (AS). Individuals high in the (AS) dimension are described as hard working, active, and as taking their work too seriously (thus; most lecturers will travel to other places and engage in some overloaded activities in order to achieve their work goals). The other dimension of Type A behaviour is the impatience-irritability (II). Individuals high in the impatience-irritability dimension are characterized as impatient, irritable, and prone to anger. Research has shown that both dimensions are associated with health complaints and report greater work-to-family conflict. By using a more sensitive measure of Type A behaviour, this research intend to clarify the relationship between Type A behaviour and work-to-family conflict. Given the dimensions that is; impatience-irritability and achievement striving. It is expected that Type A behaviour will be likely to predict work-to-family conflict.

Statement of the Problem

The incompatibility of demands between career and family seems to create personal pressure on the worker. Individuals, who invest more time and other psychological resources in their work, have more work-to-family conflict, which reduces their quality of life. More often than not, this conflict tends to create on the individuals as they make efforts to balance the two ends that needed to be attended to simultaneously.

Overall, researchers have recognized that work-to-family conflict occurs when the domain of work interferes with the family demands (Ajiboye, 2008). Acknowledging the prevalence of work-to-family conflict and its negative outcomes therefore, the present study sought to find answers to the following research questions/problems;


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *