Job Satisfaction, Leisure Satisfaction, and Psychological Health

By Pearson, Quinn M. | Career Development Quarterly, June 1998 | Go to article overview

Job Satisfaction, Leisure Satisfaction, and Psychological Health


Pearson, Quinn M., Career Development Quarterly


Job satisfaction, leisure satisfaction, and psychological health were measured for 189 adult men who were employed full time. Job satisfaction and leisure satisfaction were found to be significant positive predictors of psychological health. Stepwise regression analyses indicated that job satisfaction was the better predictor of psychological health, but leisure satisfaction added significantly to the prediction. Although job satisfaction was significantly higher for white-collar (professional) workers than for blue-collar workers, the prediction of psychological health by the independent variables was not affected by occupational status. Theoretical and counseling implications are discussed.

At a time when the education level of the workforce in the United States is at its highest, most of the newly created jobs are the antithesis of meaningful or challenging work (Kimeldorf, 1989). With fewer opportunities available for meaningful jobs, several authors (e.g., McDaniels, 1984; McDaniels & Gysbers, 1992) have suggested that many workers will turn to leisure pursuits to improve their quality of life.

Early proponents of the importance of leisure saw the potential of leisure to compensate for negative work experiences or to add positive experiences not available through work. Wilensky ( 1960) described leisure as compensatory when people use it to supplement dissatisfying work experiences. Kando and Summers (1971) suggested that leisure can provide not only positive experiences not adequately encountered in their jobs (supplemental compensation), but also opportunities to recover from negative experiences in their jobs (reactive compensation).

Recognizing this hypothesized interaction between work and leisure, career theorists have included leisure in their conceptualization of career. McDaniels ( 1984) added leisure to Sears's ( 1982) definition of career to include "the totality of work and leisure one does in a lifetime" (p. 35). Super ( 1984) also broadened his definition of career, stating that "it is the sequence and combination of roles [including the leisurite role] played by a person in the course of a lifetime" (p. 75).

The focus of career counseling has been expanded to incorporate these contemporary notions of career (Herr & Cramer, 1988; McDaniels & Gysbers, 1992; Zunker, 1994). For example, Bloland and Edwards (1981) developed a career counseling model that encompasses work and leisure. Relying on Kando's and Summers's (1971) theory that leisure can compensate for both negative work experiences and insufficient positive work experiences, Bloland's and Edwards's model focuses on helping clients meet their needs through combinations of work and leisure activities.

Incorporating leisure into the goals and the scope of career counseling implies two related notions. First, the career counseling process no longer needs to focus only on increasing job satisfaction; it needs to address leisure satisfaction as well. Second, this process should lead to improvements in clients' overall psychological health.

A review of the empirical literature provides a variety of perspectives on the relationships between work, leisure, and psychological health. Studied separately,both leisure satisfaction (Kaufman, 1988) and job satisfaction (Watson & Slack, 1993; Wiener, Muczyk, & Martin, 1992) have been shown to be positively related to psychological health. Evidence even suggests that job satisfaction may be causally related to improvements in psychological status (Winefield, Winefield, Tiggemann, & Goldney, 1991; Wright & Bonett, 1992). Unfortunately, the psychological health measures used in leisure and job satisfaction research are often limited to single aspects of psychological health (Hochschild, 1989; Watson & Slack, 1993) or to psychiatric symptoms (Wiener et al., 1992). Consequently, inferences are difficult to make regarding the separate effects of job satisfaction and leisure satisfaction on a broad measure of psychological health that includes well-being and distress. …

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