Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Professional Burnout from Social Comparison Theory: A Case of Iranian English Language Teachers

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Professional Burnout from Social Comparison Theory: A Case of Iranian English Language Teachers

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Any society needs a teacher with high levels of education and also high levels of patience and mental health. In fact fresh teachers and those teachers experiencing interest and enjoyment in their jobs can accelerate the teaching process and increase students' motivation at the same time, this is while the existence of burnout can negatively influence the amount of interest and enjoyment tea chers experience. Burnout as a social phenomenon can be found in different occupations, especially jobs needing high amount of interaction with people. This is while teachers need to interact with not only the students who are in direct relation with them but also supervisors, parents, and colleagues during a long time. Maslach and Jackson (1982) emphasized the very fact that the phenomenon of burnout which starts with the intense interaction in working with people has been of great importance in different human service occupations such as health and mental care professions. Jennet, Harris, and Mesibov (2003) studied the social phenomenon of burnout from the same perspective and mentioned that burnout is the result of long term occupational stress especially among human service workers, including teachers.In this study, the researcher is focusing on the relationship between social comparison tendencies and burnout.

Burnout happens in social interactions influencing one's sense of identity and self-worth and in this regard social comparison tendencies of teachers- upward or downward- might influence the occurrence of burnout syndrome. In this regard teachers who are in permanent interaction with students, parents, supervisors, and colleagues are indispensible of the comparison that occurs among them. Greenberg, Ashton-James, and Ashkanasy (2007), suggested that social comparison processes are rooted in most social interactions especially in organizational life. The researchers also focused on six topics of interests to organizational psychologist, one of which is stress. Therefore, social comparison processes might be related to burnout, as the development and persistent of burnout lays mainly in the context of the working environment, a domain where social comparison is a quite common phenomenon (Brenninkmeijer 2002).

2. Review

Maslach (2003), described burnout by three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism and sense of inefficacy. These three dimensions are also defined by different researchers. Schwab (1983) outlined emotional exhaustion as a prominent feature of burnout syndrome. The researcher also argued that intensive interaction on a prolonged basis will lead to the emotional drain of teachers and teachers cannot act as they did earlier in their jobs. Jennet, Harris and Mesibov (2003) specified emotional exhaustion as a condition in which teachers' emotional resources are low and they expe rience the feeling that they are no longer able to give psychologically of themselves. As the second dimension of burnout syndrome, cynicism also called depersonalization points to a condition in which teachers seclude themselves from the students and different aspects of the job (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001).Regarding cynicism, Jennette, Harris and Mesibove (2003) presumed that teachers experience negative, cynical, indifferent attitudes and feelings about their students. Schwab (1983) also expounded depersonalization as the condition in which teachers flourish negative cynical attitudes toward their students and can impart these attitudes in ways such as using derogatory labels. E.M. Skaalvik and S. Skaalvik ( 2009) believed that these feeling of cynicism might also occur in relation to colleagues. The third aspect of the burnout syndrome is called the sense of inefficacy. Schaufeli and Greenglass (2001) offered the third aspect of burnout as ?reduced personal accomplishment' which in his words refers to a decrease in one's feelings of competence and successful achievement in one's job. Maslach, Schaufeli and Leiter (2001) expressed that the components of reduced efficacy or accomplishment represent the self evaluation dimension. …

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