Applying Information Theory to Small Groups Assessment: Emotions and Well-Being at Work

Article excerpt

This paper explores and analyzes the relations between emotions and well-being in a sample of aviation personnel, passenger crew (flight attendants). There is an increasing interest in studying the influence of emotions and its role as psychosocial factors in the work environment as they are able to act as facilitators or shock absorbers. The contrast of the theoretical models by using traditional parametric techniques requires a large sample size to the efficient estimation of the coefficients that quantify the relations between variables. Since the available sample that we have is small, the most common size in European enterprises, we used the maximum entropy principle to explore the emotions that are involved in the psychosocial risks. The analyses show that this method takes advantage of the limited information available and guarantee an optimal estimation, the results of which are coherent with theoretical models and numerous empirical researches about emotions and well-being.

Keywords: small groups, information theory, psychosocial risks, assessment, emotions, burn out, well-being.

En este artículo analizamos las relaciones entre las emociones y el bienestar en una muestra de trabajadores del sector aeronáutico, en concreto de tripulantes de cabina de pasajeros (TCP). De este modo respondemos al creciente papel que las emociones están teniendo en los riesgos psicosociales en el trabajo, de modo que pueden influir como agentes facilitadotes o como amortiguadores. Dado que la mayoría de las empresas en Europa poseen una plantilla media de pequeño tamaño, la aplicación de las técnicas paramétricas habituales presenta fuertes limitaciones a la hora de estimar los coeficientes que indican la relación entre las variables. En consecuencia, hemos optado por la aplicación del principio de la máxima entropía de la teoría de la información, que ha permitido obtener unas estimaciones óptimas sacando el máximo provecho a la escasa información disponible. Asimismo, los resultados son coherentes con la investigación previa, lo que comprueba su adecuación y hace que sea un procedimiento recomendable para los casos similares.

Palabras clave: grupos, teoría de la información, riesgos psicosociales, evaluación, emociones, burn out, bienestar.

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In an environment characterized by competitiveness and orientation towards management quality, the provision of professional services is associated with the interactions between employers and clients. Given the prominent position conceded to customer services and customer satisfaction, it seems convenient to stop and investigate the consequences affecting the well-being of the personnel involved in this task. One of the keys to adequate job performance for a large number of workers in the service sector is centered on the expression of emotions. Emotions have hardly been chosen for study, (Brown & Moren, 2003) although recently different research has delved more deeply into this matter (Brief & Weiss, 2002). This has given way to an analysis perspective of human behavior, complementary to the rational, within organizations. Moreover, the preoccupation for working conditions and workers' health has a long tradition in the history of Work and Organizational Psychology (Barling & Griffith, 2003), that recently has been emphasized in Europe by WHO (World Health Organization) besides the putting of research knowledge into practice (Cox, Leka, Ivanov & Kortum, 2004). These two perspectives result in the current existence of a growing interest in understanding the relation between emotions and wellbeing (Fedrickson, 2004).

Emotions specifically sought after by the company with the idea of reaching their quality objectives, is the case with flight attendants of an airline cabin crew (CC). The work of a flight attendant as a member of an airline cabin crew consists of, according to the ILO (1991, p.161), "the providing of personal services in order to assure the comfort and safety of the passengers, serving food and drinks, or depending on the situation, planning and coordinating the tasks of the personnel that serves or attends passengers or provides the mundane entertainment or activities on board ships and other types of crafts. …