Family and Work Influence Psychologists’ Overall Life Satisfaction

February 29th, 2012


Many studies have examined how family life can affect work (FWC) and how work can affect family life (WFC). But few studies have looked closely at how the overall life satisfaction of psychologists is influenced by work and family. Mental health professionals work in a field in which they are exposed to highly stressful scenarios much of the time. This can negatively impact their own psychological state, causing fatigue, exhaustion, depression, agitation, or anxiety. Although most clinicians realize their vulnerability, they may not be fully aware of how their work life can impact their family lives. In addition, clinicians who have family obligations and responsibilities may not be cognizant of the effect of their family situations on their professional experience. Patricia A. Rupert, Associate Professor of Psychology at Loyola University of Chicago, expanded on her previous research in this area by conducting a study that explored FWC and WFC independently and how each of these affected overall life satisfaction in 368 doctoral psychologists with families.

Rupert chose to look specifically at positive effects and found that the psychologists that had control of their professional environments experienced the most satisfaction at work and at home. Rupert theorized that this effect was the result of a diminished WFC. She also discovered that the participants with the highest levels of family support experienced high levels of family and work satisfaction as well, again, as a result of diminished FWC. The participants with family and work satisfaction also reported the highest levels of overall life satisfaction, suggesting that fulfillment is a byproduct of satisfaction with career and family. Although Rupert did not find significant differences relative to gender, she did notice that the women felt more committed to their families than the men. This could indicate that women rely more on the emotional support and encouragement offered by family members in order to positively impact their sense of satisfaction at work as well as at home. In sum, Rupert noted that these findings clearly show how work and family can positively influence overall well-being of busy psychologists. She added, “Our findings underscore the importance of considering the interdependence of work and family in assessing demands and resources.”

Rupert, P. A., Stevanovic, P., Hartman, E. R. T., Bryant, F. B., Miller, A. (2012). Predicting Work–Family Conflict and Life Satisfaction Among Professional Psychologists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026675



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