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The Spanish Journal of Psychology (2017), 20, e59, 1–11.
© Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Colegio Oﬁcial de Psicólogos de Madrid
Work represents the central process around which
society is structured (Bauman, 1998). On the other side,
unemployment rate is a relevant economic indicator
and unemployment currently appears to be a global
problem affecting society as a whole (Wanberg, 2012).
Since 2007 the unemployment rate has been almost
steadily increasing – EU started the crisis with unem-
ployment rate of 6.8%, which increased to 10.4% in
April 2014 (Eurostat, 2016a, b). Labor markets in some
countries have suffered from the crisis signiﬁcantly
more than others. Spain, Greece, Portugal and Croatia
are typical examples of countries with a rapid increase
of unemployment rates. In Spain, unemployment rates
jumped from 8.2% in 2007 to 24.5% in 2014 (Eurostat,
2016a), out of which 12.9% individuals were unem-
ployed for more than 12 months.
Over the past few decades, numerous studies
have examined negative consequences of job loss on
an individual. Most studies focus on negative effects
of unemployment on mental health and general
well-being (Ferreira et al., 2015). Overall, research sug-
gests that, across different countries, unemployment
is associated to greater psychological deterioration
than the employed have (Álvaro, Guedes, Garrido,
de Figueiredo, & Campos, 2012), to higher levels of
depression (Berrios, Extremera, & Nieto-Flores, 2016)
and stress-related symptoms such as stomach aches and
headaches (Vansteenkiste, Lens, De Witte, De Witte., &
Deci, 2004) or lower self-esteem (McIntyre, Mattingly,
Lewandowski Jr., & Simpson, 2014). Additionally,
emotional and ﬁnancial stressors associated with unem-
ployment affect their social interactions leading to
increased family conﬂict, loneliness (Åslund, Starrin, &
Nilsson, 2014) and, in the recent economic crisis, is
accompanied by an increase in suicide mortality,
particularly in South Europe (Breuer, 2015). In fact,
in Spain, as in other countries, negative effects
Core Self-Evaluations and Individual Strategies
of Coping with Unemployment among Displaced
Tihana Virkes1, Darja Maslić Seršić1 and Esther Lopez-Zafra2
1 University of Zagreb (Croatia)
2 Universidad de Jaén (Spain)
Abstract. Unemployment has negative but also positive effects on mental health and general well-being depending
on which coping strategies the individual use. Our aim was to determine the contribution of core self-evaluations in
explaining the coping strategies of job search and job devaluation, as well as to test the potential moderation effect of job
search and mediation effect of job devaluation on the relationship between self core-evaluations and both positive and
negative experience of unemployment. One hundred seventy-eight individuals who lost their jobs involuntarily for a
longer period than one month completed a questionnaire while attending to employment ofﬁce. Results show that there
is a signiﬁcant relation between core-self evaluations and job devaluation (.37**). Furthermore, core-self evaluations
were positively related to positive experience of unemployment (r = .31; p < .01) and negatively related to negative
experience of unemployment (r = .60; p < .01). Moreover, self-core evaluations predicted both coping with unemployment
strategies (job devaluation; β = .26; p < .01 and job search β = .19; p < .05). However, job search did not moderate the
relationship between core self-evaluations and experience of unemployment. But, individuals with a longer duration of
the current period of unemployment and higher core self-evaluations had a more positive experience of unemployment,
and job devaluation partially mediated this relation (SE = .002; p = .038). These results imply that programs interventions
should include the improvement of core self-evaluations and the positive experience of unemployed people.
Received 16 September 2016; Revised 2 October 2017; Accepted 5 October 2017
Keywords: core self-evaluations, experience of unemployment, job devaluation, job search, strategies of coping with
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to
Esther Lopez-Zafra. Professor of Social Psychology. Campus Las
Lagunillas, s/n, Edif. C5, Ofﬁce 121. 23071. Jaén (Spain).
This study was possible due to the ofﬁcial support obtained from
the Regional Andalusian Employment Service. Special thanks to the
Delegate Dña. Ana Cobo, D. José López Rozas and D. Alfonso Araque.
How to cite this article:
Virkes, T., Maslić Seršić, D. M., & Lopez-Zafra, E. (2017). Core self-
evaluations and individual strategies of coping with unemployment
among displaced spanish workers. The Spanish Journal of Psychology,
20. e59. Doi:10.1017/sjp.2017.57
2 T. Virkes et al.
signiﬁcantly worsen with the economic crisis (Urbanos-
Garrido & Lopez-Valcarcel, 2015). However, not all
individuals experience negative consequences of their
job loss. It could be an opportunity to spend more time
on other meaningful activities (Burda & Hamermesh,
In order to provide a broader perspective of individual
differences in experience and coping with unemploy-
ment, some researchers turned to the transactional
model of stress and coping by Lazarus and Folkman
(1984), which is the basis of this research. This model
connects cognitive appraisals, coping resources and
coping strategies in trying to explain the relationship
between stressful events in the environment and one’s
reactions. Stress occurs when individuals perceive a
threat to their well-being or resources that exceeds
their ability to cope with that event (Probst & Jiang,
2016). As such, ﬁrst there is an evaluation of a stressful
situation and then the election of the coping strategy to
cope with which depends on the coping resources of
the individual and the environment.
Coping resources are one antecedent of coping
strategies and consist of internal attributes (e.g., self-
esteem, positive beliefs) and external resources
(e.g., material resources, social support) that inﬂuence
the way a person copes with involuntary job loss
(Solove, Fisher, & Kraiger, 2015). More speciﬁcally,
higher self-esteem and self-efﬁcacy, lower neuroticism
and internal locus of control were associated to posi-
tive cognitive appraisals, which are in turn connected
with more effective coping strategies (McKee-Ryan,
Song, Wanberg, & Kinicki, 2005). These individual
variables (self-esteem, generalized self-efﬁcacy, locus
of control and emotional stability) are often examined as
coping resources inﬂuencing the choice and persistence
of coping strategies. Because of their high intercorrela-
tions, Judge, Locke, and Durham (1997) suggested
they could be united in a higher order construct, which
they named core self-evaluations (CSE), as fundamental
premises that individuals hold about themselves and their
functioning in the world (p. 154). CSE represent a motiva-
tional trait useful for prediction of various goal setting
activities and coping strategies (Kammeyer-Mueller,
Judge, & Scott, 2009). When dealing with a stressful
event, individuals with high CSE typically focus on
trying to solve a problem and deal with their negative
Coping resources have direct and indirect effects (by
affecting one’s appraisal of the unemployment) on the
selection of coping strategies (Latack, Kinicki, & Prussia,
1995). Together with cognitive appraisals, they are
necessary antecedents of coping, and therefore can be
seen as mediators between an event and an individual’s
response to it. Coping strategies are cognitive and
behavioral efforts made by individuals to deal with a
stressful situation (Latack et al., 1995). Latack (1986) inte-
grated the different strategies to distinguish between
control-oriented as actions and cognitive reappraisals
that are proactive, and escape-oriented consisting of
both actions and cognitive reappraisals that suggest an
escapist, avoidance mode coping strategies.
This research investigated coping strategies of job
search and job devaluation. Job search, is a control-
oriented strategy consisting of proactive and planned
activities with reemployment as a ﬁnal goal (i.e., writing
a CV, asking friends about open positions in their com-
panies and searching and applying for job openings
online). Meta-analysis by Kanfer, Wanberg, and
Kantrowitz (2001) showed that the active use of this
strategy is related to future job acquisition, number
of job offers and shorter duration of unemployment.
Also, individuals with higher self-esteem, self-efﬁcacy
and perceived control over life (components of CSE)
show more intensity and effort in their job search
(Wanberg, 2012). However, successful reemployment
also depend on other factors, such as labor market
(Maslić & Šavor, 2011). Other studies on job search
focused on its negative relationship with well-being
despite it generally increases the chance of reemploy-
ment (McKee-Ryan et al., 2005). Finally, the relation-
ship between active job search and higher levels of
distress is reciprocal - not only does job search lead
to increased psychological distress, but higher levels
of psychological distress also seem to increase job
seeking behavior (Song, Uy, Zhang, & Shi, 2009).
Job devaluation, is an escape-oriented strategy through
which an individual tries to perceive the event of job
loss as less negative and cognitively persuade them-
selves that there are more important things in life than
having a job. This implies cognitive revision of goals
and attitudes in order to reduce the negative experi-
ence of unemployment (Latack et al., 1995). According
to De Witte, Hooge, and Vanbelle (2010), this strategy
is common among long-term unemployed individuals
who get tired of constant job search and therefore their
commitment decreases. Once the role of work in their
life becomes peripheral, psychological distress decreases
and their overall well-being improves.
A common point of interest of all theories on the
impact of unemployment is individual experience,
which varies from extremely negative (e.g., depression)
to positive (e.g., leisure time). Previous research mainly
focused on positive and negative experience (e.g., De
Witte et al., 2010; Vansteenkiste et al., 2004) conﬁrmed the
results of meta-analysis by McKee-Ryan et al. (2005).
That is, job search coping strategy connects to negative
experience of unemployment whereas escape-oriented
strategies relate to positive experience.
In this resesarch we go one step further to enable a
more thorough insight into the mechanisms of individual
Individual Coping with Unemployment 3
variations in coping with job loss. In particular, to
examine whether and to what extent CSE predict stra-
tegies of coping with unemployment as well as to test
the potential moderation effect of job search and
mediation effect of job devaluation on the relation-
ship between CSE and experience of unemployment.
Practically, investigating the coping resources and
coping strategies may help to design more effective
interventions to facilitate a successful return to the
workforce (Blustein, Kozan, & Connors-Kellgren, 2013).
Speciﬁcally, we expect that:
H1. Higher core self-evaluations will be positively
related to higher levels of job search, as well as higher
levels of job devaluation. CSE will contribute signiﬁ-
cant additional variance to predicting job search and
job devaluation, after the socio-demographic variables
(age, gender, level of education, average monthly income)
and work characteristics (total period of current unem-
ployment, duration of last tenure) are controlled.
H2. Job search will moderate the relationship between
core self-evaluations and experience of unemploy-
ment. Thus, people with higher CSE will have more
positive and less negative experience of unemploy-
ment. However, those who search for a job actively
will have a less positive and more negative experience
of unemployment (Figure 1).
H3. Job devaluation will partially mediate the rela-
tionship between core self-evaluations and experience
of unemployment. Again, CSE will affect experience of
unemployment. People with higher core self-evaluations
will have higher levels of positive and lower levels of
negative experience of unemployment than low CSE
individuals. Also, CSE will be associated to higher
levels of job devaluation, which will in turn lead to
more positive and less negative experience of unem-
ployment (Figure 2).
Participants and procedure
Two hundred displaced people in South Spain attending
to Andalusian Service of Employment participated in
this study. Data gathering consisted of approaching
everyone in the waiting room of the agency and asking
them to participate in the study. The participation was
anonymous and voluntary. As criteria for participa-
tion, only individuals who lost their jobs involuntarily
and whose current period of unemployment was
longer than 1 month were involved. The ones who met
the criteria and agreed to participate (74%) were given
the questionnaire with further instructions on its ﬁrst
page. Participants took 10 to 20 minutes to complete
the questions. The completed questionnaires were left
in a box put on a separate table. Nine were discarded
for being outliers, and 13 because questionnaires were
The ﬁnal sample consisted of 178 participants, with a
slightly greater number of female participants (N = 95,
54%). Most participants were between 26 and 45 years
old (70.8%). The majority had a total period of current
unemployment between one and two years (28.6%) and
two and four years (25.1%), and the average duration
of last tenure was 28.97 months (SD = 57.62; range =
less than a month – 324 months). (See Table 1 for fur-
In the period of gathering data, (ﬁrst semester -2015)
the social context was characterised with high unem-
ployment rate. According to Eurostat, the average
unemployment rate in Spain was around 22% in that
period, representing the second highest unemploy-
ment rate in the EU, after Greece. In this unfavorable
national context, southern provinces were especially
affected. In Andalusia, the unemployment rate for the
same period was 31.5%, being the worst of the EU
Coping strategies (Maslić & Šavor, 2011)
This is a Croatian questionnaire based on Kinicki and
Latack (1990), Lazarus’s stress theory and qualitative
data obtained during counseling work with unem-
ployed people. We followed the International Test
Commision test translation and adaptation guidelines
(2005) to have a Spanish version. Native individuals
with high commandment of both languages made the
translation and then the back translation and ﬁnally
two versions (original and back translated) were com-
pared until the consensus on all items was reached.
Participants responded on a 4-point scale (from 1 -never
to 4 -always) to 13 items measuring job search (7 items;
i.e., “I dedicate a lot of time to job search”, α = .77), and job
Figure 1. Expected moderation effect of job search on the
relationship between core self-evaluations and experience of
Figure 2. Expected mediation effect of job devaluation on the
relationship between core self-evaluations and experience of
4 T. Virkes et al.
devaluation (6 items, i.e., “I am telling to myself that there
are more important things in life than employment”; α = .70).
Core self-evaluations (CSE; Judge, Erez, Bono, & Thoresen,
2003; Spanish version by Judge, Van Vianen, & De Pater,
Deﬁned as fundamental premises that individuals
hold about themselves and their functioning in the
world (Judge et al., 1997). The scale consisted of 12
items (i.e., I determine what will happen in my life)
answered on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1
(strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). A composite
measure of core self-evaluations showed good realia-
bily (α = .76).
Experience of unemployment
For the purpose of this study, 14 items related to the
positive and negative experience of unemployment
were taken from the original questionnaire developed
by De Witte et al. (2010). The items were originally in
English, and they were translated into Spanish by a
native Spanish speaker with an excellent level of
English, then back-translated from Spanish to English
by another native Spanish speaker. Finally, the two
versions were compared and discussed for consensus.
Participants had to respond to each item (I can ﬁnally do
the things I ﬁnd important since becoming unemployed) by
choosing often, sometimes or never. Items measuring
negative experience of unemployment were generally
focused on deprivation a person might have experi-
enced (i.e., It feels as if I am no longer part of society). To
test the original factor structure, principal components
analysis with Oblimin rotation was performed. The
rotated solution mostly conﬁrmed the structure, except
for one item which was expected to describe positive
experience of unemployment, but was found saturated
on both factors, and was therefore discarded from further
analysis. This resulted in 13 item scale for negative expe-
rience of unemployment (8 items; α = .88) and positive
experience of unemployment (5 items, α = .65).
Socio-demographic variables included age, gender,
level of education and average monthly income in the
family, while work characteristics focused on the dura-
tion of the current period of unemployment and last
organizational tenure in months.
Before focusing on our research objectives, Pearson
bivariate correlations between all the relevant variables
were tested (see Table 2). Out of socio-demographic
variables and work characteristics, age was negatively
correlated with the level of education and positively
correlated with the duration of current period of
unemployment and last tenure, suggesting that older
participants were more likely to be less educated and
the duration of their current period of unemployment
was more likely to be longer, while their last tenure
lasted longer as well. Level of education had a signiﬁ-
cant positive correlation with the average monthly
income, indicating that despite losing their job, more
educated people were still more likely to have higher
incomes than the others. Between all the socio-
demographic variables and work characteristics, only
average monthly income and duration of last tenure
were signiﬁcantly related to the SCE. People with a
longer duration of their last tenure, as well as those
with higher average monthly income, show higher
levels of core self-evaluations. An interesting observa-
tion is that none of the socio-demographic variables or
work characteristics were related to the control-oriented
coping strategy of job search. However, higher levels
of escape-related strategy of job devaluation were con-
nected with higher levels of education, higher average
monthly income and higher CSE. As for the outcomes
of coping strategies, positive experience of unemploy-
ment was positively related to the duration of current
period of unemployment, CSE and job devaluation.
Furthermore, negative experience of unemployment was
Table 1. Socio-demographic variables and work characteristics of
participants (N = 178)
Category Percentage (%)
Gender Men 46.3
Age 18–25 15.7
Education Elementary school 41.6
High school 35.3
University degree 23.1
Total period of
1 to 2 months 5.7
2 to 6 months 14.3
6 to 12 months 15.4
1 to 2 years 28.6
2 to 4 years 25.1
More than 4 years 10.9
Under 400 euros 30.6
645.3 euros 12.4
Between 645.3 and
Between 1216 and
Between 2095 and
Over 4190 euros 0.6
Individual Coping with Unemployment 5
negatively related to CSE and job devaluation, implying
that individuals with lower core self-evaluations and
those who use job devaluation as their strategy less
often are more probable to experience their unemploy-
ment negatively. Lastly, positive and negative experi-
ence of unemployment were negatively correlated.
Contribution of socio-demographic variables, work
characteristics and CSE to the predicting of coping
In order to test the H1, a total of two separate linear
hierarchical regression analyses were conducted, each
one in two steps. The measured coping strategies (job
search and job devaluation) were used as the criterion
variables. In each analysis socio-demographic varia-
bles (gender, age, level of education and average
monthly income) were entered in the ﬁrst step together
with work characteristics (duration of current period
of unemployment and last tenure in months), while
CSE were entered in the second step (see Table 3). Only
the second step was near the signiﬁcancy explaining
5.4% of the total variance F(7, 118) = 2.02; p = .056, with
the level of education and CSE being independent pre-
dictors. Individuals with higher level of education
and a higher level of core self-evaluations are more
likely to use the strategy of job search while coping with
When job devaluation was used as the criterion varia-
ble, 13.1% of the variance was explained F(7, 117) = 3.66;
p = .001. Socio-economic variables, entered together with
work characteristics in the ﬁrst step of the analysis,
accounted for 7.5% of the total variance F(6, 118) = 2.67;
p = .018, and average monthly income was a signiﬁcant
predictor (t = 2.047; p = .043), indicating that indivi-
duals with higher average monthly income used this
coping strategy more than those with lower income.
CSE, added in the second step, were shown to be a
signiﬁcant independent predictor. At the same time,
adding them into the regression equation reduced
standardized beta coefﬁcient of average monthly income,
which became insigniﬁcant. According to the analysis,
this strategy is more common among individuals with
Moderating effect of job search on the relationship
between CSE and experience of unemployment
CSE were positively related to positive experience of
unemployment and negatively related to negative
experience of unemployment (see Table 2). To test the
potential moderating effect of job search on these rela-
tionships, a total of two hierarchical multiple regres-
sion analyses were performed. Socio-demographic
variables (gender, age, level of education and average
Table 2. Intercorrelations of all the observed variables (N = 178)
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
1. Gender −
2. Age .07 −
3. Education .12 −.17* −
4. Duration of current unemployment .13 .21** .01 −
5. Last tenure −.06 .33** −.04 .06 −
6. Average monthly income −.10 −.11 .38** −.04 .10 −
7. Core self-evaluations −.15 .08 −.04 −.05 .20* .17* −
8. Job search .08 −.02 .14 .09 .10 −.03 .07 −
9. Job devaluation .01 −.15 .26** .03 −.01 .25** .31** .11 −
10. Positive experience −.03 .02 .09 .15* .01 .13 .31** −.12 .45** −
11. Negative experience −.06 .07 −.08 .03 −.07 −.19* −.60** .11 −.39** −.29** −
*p < .05; **p < .01.
Table 3. Results of two linear hierarchical regression analyses with
job search and job devaluation as criterion variables (N = 178)
Job search Job devaluation
Predictors Step 1 (β) Step 2 (β) Step 1 (β) Step 2 (β)
Gender .10 .13 .05 .09
Age –.10 –.12 –.16 –.18
Education level .18 .20* .15 .16
–.15 –.19 .20* .16
Current period of
.10 .11 .03 .05
Last tenure .17 .15 .02 –.02
Adjusted R2.029 .054 .075* .131**
ΔR2.075 .032* .120* .060**
*p < .05; **p < .01.
6 T. Virkes et al.
Table 4. The moderating role of job search on the relationship between core self-evaluations and experience of unemployment: results of the
two linear regression analyses (N = 178)
Positive experience Negative experience
Predictors Step 1 (β) Step 2 (β) Step 3 (β) Step 1 (β) Step 2 (β) Step 3 (β)
Gender –.02 .05 .05 –.06 –.18* –.18*
Age .03 –.02 –.03 .04 .12 .12
Education level .03 .09 .09 .04 –.03 –.03
Average monthly income .23* .14 .14 –.25* –.13 –.13
Current period of unemployment .12 .16 .16 .08 .02 .02
Last tenure –.05 –.05 –.05 –.09 –.05 –.05
Core Self-Evaluations (CSE) .31** .31** –.62** –.62**
Job search (JS) –.19* –.19* .17* .17*
CSE X JS .02 .01
Adjusted R2.03 .12** .11** .02 .37** .36**
ΔR2.07 .10** .00 .07 .34** .00
*p < .05; **p < .01.
monthly income) and work characteristics (duration of
current period of unemployment and last organiza-
tional tenure in months) were entered in the ﬁrst step
of each analysis, followed by job search and CSE added
in the second step. Experience of unemployment
(positive or negative) was used as the criterion variable
(see Table 4).
In general, both analyses rejected the hypothesis of
the moderating role of job search on the relationship
between CSE and experience of unemployment. Only
when positive experience of unemployment was used
as the criterion variable, core self-evaluations and job
search were signiﬁcant independent predictors. These
results indicated that people with higher levels of CSE
and those who search for a job less have more positive
experience of unemployment.
The analysis with negative experience of unemploy-
ment as a criterion variable had a similar result.
Gender, CSE and job search were signiﬁcant indepen-
dent predictors of negative experience of unemploy-
ment. However, moderating variable was not shown
to be a signiﬁcant predictor, nor did its addition to the
regression equation affect the amount of explained
In sum, women and people with lower CSE and
higher job search levels are more likely to experience
their unemployment negatively.
Mediating effect of job devaluation on the relationship
between CSE and experience of unemployment
In order to test H3, the ﬁrst step was to examine the
intercorrelations between CSE, job devaluation and
experience of unemployment (Table 2). Job devalua-
tion correlated signiﬁcantly with both the predictor
(CSE) and criterions (positive/negative experience of
unemployment). In line with Baron and Kenny (1986),
we can thus consider job devaluation to be a potential
A total of two linear hierarchical regression analyses
were conducted. The criterion in each analysis was
either positive, or negative experience of unemploy-
ment, while core self-evaluations and job devaluation
served as predictors. Also, variables of gender, age,
level of education, average monthly income, duration
of current period of unemployment and last tenure were
controlled. Each analysis had three steps: one with
control variables, in the second core self-evaluation
was added, and lastly job devaluation was entered.
Both CSE and job devaluation appear to be signiﬁ-
cant independent predictors for positive experience of
unemployment as a criterion (see Table 5). After con-
troling socio-demographics and work characteristics,
CSE accounted for an additional 9%, and job devalua-
tion for a 6% of the variance. In total, 15% of the crite-
rion variance was explained based on these predictors.
Standardized beta coefﬁcient of CSE was reduced after
job devaluation was added into the regression equa-
tion, but still remained signiﬁcant, which suggests a
potential partial mediation effect of job devaluation on
the relationship between CSE and positive experience
The results were similar when negative experience
of unemployment was used as a criterion. Gender and
CSE were signiﬁcant independent predictors after the
second step of the analysis, which in total accounted
for 41% of the variance. Adding job devaluation to the
equation resulted in explaining further 3% of the vari-
ance, and this step was also shown to be signiﬁcant.
Both gender and CSE stayed signiﬁcant predictors, but
their standardized beta coefﬁcients decreased, which
Individual Coping with Unemployment 7
again indicated a potential partial mediation effect of
Preacher and Hayes (2004) stressed the necessity of
such direct testing of the signiﬁcance of mediation
effects in psychological research. When positive expe-
rience of unemployment was set as a criterion, the
result of Sobel test was 2.07 (SE = .002; p = .038), thus
conﬁrming the hypothesis of the effect of partial media-
tion. In other words, Sobel test supported the idea of
job devaluation being a partial mediator of the rela-
tionship between core self-evauluations and positive
experience of unemployment (see Figure 2). However,
the result of Sobel test with negative experience of
unemployment as a criterion was -1.698 (SE = .002;
p = .090), demonstrating that job devaluation cannot be
considered a partial mediator. In this case, it rather has
an additive effect and can only be treated as one of the
signiﬁcant independent predictors.
This research examined the contribution of several vari-
ables to predicting the coping strategies of job search
and job devaluation, and their further effect on an indi-
vidual’s overall experience of unemployment. Our focus
was on core self-evaluations, which represented an
individual coping resource whereas previous studies
focused on other factors that affect the way people deal
with involuntary job loss.
Generally, people tend to use control-focused stra-
tegies, such as job search, when they believe their actions
could cause a change in an unpleasant situation they
are facing to. Bearing this in mind, the ﬁnding that
people with higher levels of education, as well as those
with higher CSE tend to use the strategy of job search
more often is logical and expected, and conﬁrms
previous results in Croatia, a comparable society
regarding high unemployment rate registered during
current recession (Maslić & Šavor, 2012). Unemployed
individuals with higher levels of education might
believe that they will ﬁnd a new job easier, and there-
fore focus to a higher extent on the job search. Since
CSE is a construct made of self-esteem, self-efﬁcacy,
locus of control and emotional stability, individuals
with a higher score tend to see themselves as worthier,
conﬁdent in their ability to successfully handle various
situations, and feel they are in control, all of which
leads them to start with and persist in actions related
to job search. Even when faced with unsuccessful job
search and long-term unemployment, these traits help
individuals to keep on searching for a job (Wanberg,
Glomb, Song, & Sorenson, 2005). However, individuals
with lower levels of CSE see their potential actions as
useless and believe that not much can be done in order
to obtain reemployment, and because of that they do
not use the job search strategy as much. In this sense,
our study is in line with international studies that con-
ﬁrmed CSE as a signiﬁcant individual resource of
active problem-focused coping with job loss manifesting
through the speciﬁc strategy of active job search. In
a longitudinal 10-wave study conducted on the U.S.
sample of unemployed persons, Wanberg et al. (2005)
showed that individuals with higher CSE demon-
strated a higher mean level of job-search intensity over
18 weeks period.
It is, however, interesting to note that none of the
other socio-demographic variables or work characte-
ristics were signiﬁcant predictors of this active coping
strategy. Speciﬁcally, previous research conducted in
Croatia (Maslić & Šavor, 2011; 2012) also demonstrated
the negative relationship between the duration of the
last tenure and the use of job search strategy, but this
Table 5. The mediating effect of job devaluation on the relationship between CSE and experience of unemployment: results of the two linear
Positive experience Negative experience
Predictors Step 1 (β) Step 2 (β) Step 3 (β) Step 1 (β) Step 2 (β) Step 3 (β)
Gender –.06 –.02 –.04 –.09 –.18* –.16*
Age –.05 –.08 –.02 .08 .13 .10
Education level –.00 .01 –.04 .05 .03 .06
Average monthly income .18 .13 .09 –.23* –.14 –.11
Current period of unemployment .18 .20* .18* .05 –.01 –.01
Last tenure –.03 –.09 –.08 –.12 –.00 –.00
CSE .31** .24* –.62** –.57**
Job devaluation .27** –.18*
Adjusted R2.02 .10** .15** .07 .41** .44**
ΔR2.07 .09** .06** .07 .34** .03*
*p < .05; **p < .01.
8 T. Virkes et al.
ﬁnding was not replicated on Spanish sample. One of
the reasons behind it might be the relatively homoge-
neous group of participants with a quite short duration
of the last tenure. Similarly to Solove, Fisher, and
Kraiger (2015) recent study carried out in U.S., we
didn’t ﬁnd a positive relation between ﬁnancial hard-
ship and job search intensity which was proved in
several international studies (see, Kanfer et al., 2001;
Šverko, Galić, Maslić, & Galešić, 2008a; Wanberg,
Kanfer, & Rotundo, 1999). The reasons for this negative
result can be twofold: Firstly, we measured ﬁnancial
hardship indirectly through the reported average
monthly income, and this measure is not necessarly
the indicator of the experienced ﬁnancial hardship;
Secondly, due to the social context characterized with
high unemployment rate and lack of job offers, ﬁnan-
cial hardships could stimulate unemploees to use other
problem-focused strategies as it is undeclared occa-
sional work for money (see, Šverko, Galić, Maslić, &
Galešić, 2008b). Finally, we didn’t ﬁnd a negative
correlation between age and job search intensity (see,
Wanberg, Kanfer, Hamann, & Zhang, 2016). The fact
that the connection between job search and these vari-
ables was not as expected and rather low can be addi-
tionally explained by the distribution of scores. Most
participants scored 3 or higher (with theoretical range
going from 1 to 4). More precisely, it appears that only
17.8% of the sample had a total score lower than 3
on job search. This small variance of the results could
have decreased the correlations with other variables
and thus failed to support the hypothesis. One of
the possible reasons which could have caused such a
distribution of the results is socially desirable respon-
ding. People have a tendency to reply to self-report
questions in a way that creates an overly positive
image of themselves (Holtgraves, 2004). Since the data
was collected in the ofﬁcial governmental center of
employment, it is likely that participants were implied
in more active search or replying in a more socially
We didn’t prove the hypothesis on moderation effect
of job search on the relationship between CSE and both
positive and negative experience of unemployment.
It appears that CSE as an individual resource and job
search as an active problem-focused strategy inde-
pendently add to the prediction of both positive and
negative experience of unemployment. A positive corre-
lation between CSE and the positive experience of unem-
ployment and a negative correlation to the negative
experience of unemployment are in line with literature
on the role of CSE in predicting positive work-related
well-being (e.g., Dormann, Fay, Zapf, & Frese, 2006;
Judge & Bono, 2001; Zhang & Du, 2011).
Speciﬁcally, people who actively search for jobs
have a less positive and more negative experience of
unemployment, compared to those who do not.
Additionally, women are more likely to experience
their unemployment negatively. This ﬁnding is in line
with previous research, which has also shown the con-
nection between active job search and negative expe-
rience of unemployment (MyKee-Ryan et al., 2005).
Considering that job search is a very stressful activity
followed by numerous rejections and often a complete
lack of feedback, it is logical that people who look for
jobs more frequently have a less positive experience of
unemployment than those who do not.
Job devaluation was taken as an example of escape-
oriented strategy in this research. Generally, this strategy
is manifested in a reduced importance people give to
the idea of having a job, and they use it in order to deal
with unpleasant emotions, psychological distress
and frustration caused by the involuntary job loss (see,
Kinicki & Latack, 1990; Latak, 1986). This is a contribu-
tion of this study as previous research scarcely focused
on job devaluation. Our expectation was conﬁrmed
as people with higher CSE highly use this strategy.
A potential explanation could be that individuals with
higher CSE are simply better at handling both their
behavior and emotions, and therefore focus not only
on job search activities, but also on regulating their
emotions in spare time. Note that emotional stability -
a trait determining the intensity of one’s emotional
reactions and success in managing them - is a part of
the core self-evaluations concept. In that vein, our
study conﬁrmed CSE as an individual resource and a
protective factor in the situation of unemployment. The
result can be explained in the framework of approach/
avoidance motivation theories. More speciﬁcally, as
Ferris et al. (2011; 2013) suggested, CSE represents
an indicator of approach and avoidance temperaments
(i.e., it differentiate individuals who are biologically
based on sensitivities to positive and negative stimuli).
For these reasons, individuals with higher CSE are
more predisponed for positive experiences during life
hardships. Job devaluation, as an emotion-focused
strategy that they employ while coping with unem-
ployment, could serve as a mechanism that explain
the link between CSE and positive experience of
Furthermore, in this study, we investigated the
potential mediating role of job devaluation on the rela-
tionship between CSE and experience of unemployment.
The results conﬁrmed that job devaluation indeed
mediates the relationship between CSE and positive
experience of unemployment, but not the negative
experience of unemployment. Generally, this study
showed that individuals with longer duration of
current period of unemployment and higher CSE will
probably have more positive experience of unemploy-
ment. These ﬁndings are in line with previous studies
Individual Coping with Unemployment 9
stating that the long-term unemployed experienced
their unemployment more positively (De Witte et al.,
2010), and that core self-evaluations had a signiﬁcant
positive relationship with both life satisfaction (McKee-
Ryan et al., 2005) and positive emotional consequences
of unemployed people (Kammeyer-Mueller et al.,
2009). Job devaluation partially mediated this relation-
ship, by reducing the direct connection between the
duration of current period of unemployment, CSE and
positive experience of unemployment, but still keeping
it signiﬁcant. In short, it means that people with higher
levels of CSE are more likely to have positive experi-
ence of unemployment not only because of the direct
relationship between these two variables, but also
because of the indirect impact of job devaluation.
In contrast, the results did not support the hypo-
thesis of job devaluation mediating the relationship
between CSE and negative experience of unemploy-
ment. In this case, job devaluation appeared to be only
one of the signiﬁcant independent predictors, along with
gender and core self-evaluations. Speciﬁcally, women
and those with lower levels of core self-evaluations
and job devaluation had more negative experience of
unemployment. Combined, these variables explained
in total 44% of the variance in negative experience of
Individual experience of job loss can depend on social
and economic context, especially of unemployment rate,
amount of job offers or labor mobility. Displacement
that occures during recession may be extremely stress-
full because of higher probability that it will be followed
by intensive ﬁnancial deprivation, lower chances of fast
reemployment and longer unemployment duration
(see Brand, 2015 for review). On the other hand, a high
unemployment rate alleviates the social stigma associa-
ted with job loss, and as such can be considered as an
external protective factor for individual well-being
during unemployment (Clark, Knabe, & Ratzel, 2010).
In the recent study that used data from the Spanish
national health survey (SNHS) from two periods: 2006
(before the recession started) and 2011–2012 (during
the recession), Urbanos-Garrido and Lopez-Valcarcel
(2015) found that unemployment had a signiﬁcant
impact on individual health and that this impact is
especially high for long-term unemployed. Finally, the
effects of unemployment on individual health were
moderated by the social context – the negative effects
were signiﬁcantly worsened with the economic crisis.
In our study, we recorded both positive and negative
individual experiences of unemployment and found
out some predictors and mechanisms that explained
the individual differences.
These ﬁndings are relevant not only because they give
more information about the processes behind one’s
experience of unemployment, but also because they
explain previously noticed inter-individual differences
in the ways people deal with unexpected job loss.
Coping is a dynamic process, and its components
(including coping strategies) keep on changing over
time (e.g., Kinicki, Prussia, & McKee-Ryan, 2000;
Wanberg et al., 2005) and this is a cross-sectional study.
However, this measure was taken in a period of deep
recession in Spain and could provide information about
the impact of economic crisis on coping strategies.
Speciﬁcally, individuals could note the difﬁculties of
attaing a job and use the job devaluation as a defense
mechanism. Moreover, this context could also inﬂu-
ence their expectations of perceived control of getting
a job (Piqueras, Rodríguez, & Rueda, 2008). However,
no causal conclusions can be made.
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strategies in Spain, this study provides valuable infor-
mation about the ways individuals deal with job loss
and variables involved in this process. Since the variables
used here have not been examined together before, this
study also broadens general scientiﬁc knowledge.
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