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The moderating role of employee well being on the relationship between job satisfaction and job performance

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This research provides further clarification to the age-old quest to better understand the happy/productive worker thesis. Using data from 109 managers employed by a large (over 5000 employees) customer services organization on the West Coast of the United States, both job satisfaction (r=.36, p<.01, 95% CI=.18 to .52) and psychological well-being (PWB; r=.43, p<.01, 95% CI=.26 to .58) were associated with supervisory performance ratings. Using Fredrickson's (2001) broaden-and-build model as the theoretical base, the authors found that PWB moderates the relation between job satisfaction and job performance. Consistent with Fredrickson's model, performance was highest when employees reported high scores on both PWB and job satisfaction. This moderating effect of PWB may account for some of the inconsistent results of previous studies.
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The Moderating Role of Employee Positive Well Being on the
Relation Between Job Satisfaction and Job Performance
Thomas A. Wright
University of Nevada, Reno
Russell Cropanzano
University of Arizona
Douglas G. Bonett
Iowa State University
This research provides further clarification to the age-old quest to better understand the happy/
productive worker thesis. Using data from 109 managers employed by a large (over 5000
employees) customer services organization on the West Coast of the United States, both job
satisfaction (r .36, p .01, 95% CI .18 to .52) and psychological well-being (PWB; r .43,
p .01, 95% CI .26 to .58) were associated with supervisory performance ratings. Using
Fredrickson’s (2001) broaden-and-build model as the theoretical base, the authors found that
PWB moderates the relation between job satisfaction and job performance. Consistent with
Fredrickson’s model, performance was highest when employees reported high scores on both
PWB and job satisfaction. This moderating effect of PWB may account for some of the
inconsistent results of previous studies.
Keywords: psychological well-being, job satisfaction, job performance, broaden-and-build model
of positive emotions
It would seem impossible to escape the fact that in the
long run, at least, [wo]men are more productive when
they are in a positive state than in a negative one.
(Hersey, 1932, 356 –357)
As our quote from Rexford B. Hersey clearly sug-
gests, the happy/productive worker thesis has long been
a question of interest for organizational scientists and
practitioners alike (cf., Hoppock, 1935; Pennock, 1930).
According to this “Holy Grail” of management re-
search, all things being equal, workers who are “happy”
with their work— however defined—should have
higher job performance. In like fashion, those who are
less happy are assumed to be less productive (Hersey,
1932; Spector, 1997). However, in sharp contrast to the
promising early work of Hersey (1932) and Kornhauser
and Sharp (1932), subsequent efforts to test the happy/
productive worker thesis have often met skepticism (see
Cropanzano & Wright, 2001, for a further review). This
uncertainty was not unreasonable, given that empirical
research had yet to consistently demonstrate links
among happiness—typically operationalized as job sat-
isfaction—and job performance ratings (cf., Wright,
2005).
More recent research has provided greater support
for the happy/productive worker thesis. Judge,
Thoresen, Bono, and Patton (2001) conducted a well-
constructed review of the job satisfaction–job perfor-
mance relation and concluded that job satisfaction
was an effective predictor of job performance. Of
particular relevance to the present research, Judge et
al. (2001) suggested that the job satisfaction–job per-
formance relation is moderated by other variables
(their Model 5). From a somewhat different happy/
productive worker perspective, Cropanzano and
Wright (2001) produced a qualitative review that
explored the association between psychological well-
being (PWB) and job performance. These authors
found evidence of a positive correlation between
PWB and performance ratings. This effect appears to
be consistent across quasi-experimental, cross-
sectional, and longitudinal designs, regardless of
whether the criterion variables are measured objec-
tively or subjectively (for additional evidence, see
Staw, Sutton, & Pelled, 1994; Wright & Staw, 1999).
Coupled with the demonstrated consistent nature of
the findings is the actual magnitude of the results,
Thomas A. Wright, Managerial Sciences Department,
University of Nevada, Reno; Russell Cropanzano, Depart-
ment of Management and Policy, Eller College of Business
and Public Administration, University of Arizona; Douglas
G. Bonett, Departments of Statistics and Psychology, Iowa
State University.
Correspondence concerning this article should be ad-
dressed to Thomas A. Wright, Managerial Sciences Depart-
ment, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557. E-mail:
taw@unr.nevada.edu
Journal of Occupational Health Psychology
2007, Vol. 12, No. 2, 93–104
Copyright 2007 by the American Psychological Association
1076-8998/07/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/1076-8998.12.2.93
93
with Wright and Staw (1999, Table 2) reporting all
nine correlations ranging from .29 to .52.
Contemporary scholars are confronted with an inter-
esting challenge. The possibility now exists that there
are at least two happy/productive worker theses–with
job satisfaction and psychological well-being each serv-
ing as operationalizations of employee happiness. In the
pages that follow, we will explore these ideas in greater
detail. In particular, for reasons to be elaborated below,
the present research proposes that the relation between
job satisfaction and job performance is moderated by
employee well-being. To that end, we first discuss the
literature on job satisfaction. Afterward, we turn our
attention to the more limited, but also important, litera-
ture on PWB. Next, and based on Fredrickson’s (1998,
2001) broaden-and-build framework, we integrate
the job satisfaction and PWB approaches to worker
“happiness” by proposing that PWB acts as a mod-
erator to job satisfaction when considering job per-
formance.
Job Satisfaction and Job Performance
“Happiness” is a lay construct. Scholarly research,
of course, demands additional precision in order to
operationalize workplace “happiness” adequately.
Over the years, researchers have proposed a number
of different approaches to operationalize happiness
(see Cropanzano & Wright, 2001, for a review).
Within the organization sciences, job satisfaction is
probably the most common and one of the oldest
operationalizations of workplace “happiness.” Of
course, no one claims that satisfaction with a job is
isomorphic with the happiness of life as a whole
(Wright, 2005). By definition, because job satisfac-
tion is specific to one’s job, it excludes aspects of
one’s life external to the job. This relatively narrow
scope stands in stark contrast to research on psycho-
logical well-being (PWB), where the happiness com-
ponent is, by definition, operationalized as a broader
construct than job satisfaction, one that refers to
aspects of one’s life both on and off the job (Diener,
1984; Wright & Cropanzano, 2000). This difference
in scope is evidenced by Wright and Cropanzano’s
(2000) finding that, while related, the correlations are
far from robust in magnitude (Study 1 correlation of
.35; Study 2 correlation of .10). Finally, since job
satisfaction is targeted specifically at work and/or
working conditions, it has long seemed intuitively
plausible that satisfied workers would be higher per-
formers (Hersey, 1932).
The early fascination with the possible role of job
satisfaction in the prediction of employee perfor-
mance was based more on a practical than a theoret-
ical basis (e.g., Kornhauser & Sharp, 1932). In his
classic article, “The nature and causes of job satis-
faction,” Locke (1976) lamented the lack of a solid
theoretical basis for proposing a job satisfaction to
job performance relation, concluding that job satis-
faction and job performance are best considered as
separate outcomes. Twenty-five years later, in echo-
ing Locke’s sentiments, Judge et al. (2001) noted that
the theoretical basis for a job satisfaction–job perfor-
mance relation was best considered as “implicitly
grounded in the broader attitudes literature in social
psychology” (p. 378). According to a number of
proponents (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993; Fishbein, 1973;
Judge et al., 2001), the general “theoretical” premise
is that attitudes have behavioral implications. More
specifically, Eagly and Chaiken (1993) stated that
favorable attitudes about an object are linked to be-
haviors that foster or support it, while unfavorable
attitudes about an object are linked to behaviors that
do not support it. Following this logic, in summing
up this perspective, Judge et al. (2001) concluded
that, “attitudes toward the object should (italics
added) be related to behaviors on the job, the most
central of which is performance on the job” (p. 378).
As a result, widespread interest in the job satisfac-
tion/job performance relationship has continued to
the present day, with the Judge et al. (2001) review
providing strong evidence that there is a moderate,
but meaningful relationship between the two vari-
ables.
Judge et al. (2001) suggested that prior research on
the job satisfaction - job performance relation can be
organized around seven models. These models can be
briefly summarized: job satisfaction causes job per-
formance (Model 1); job satisfaction is caused by job
performance (Model 2); job satisfaction and job per-
formance are reciprocally related (Model 3); job sat-
isfaction is spuriously related to job performance
(Model 4); the job satisfaction–job performance re-
lation is moderated by other variables (Model 5); job
satisfaction is not related to job performance (Model
6); and finally, that there are alternative conceptual-
izations of job satisfaction/job performance (Model
7). Results of their meta-analysis estimated the true
mean correlation between overall job satisfaction and
job performance to be .30, though they observed that
the more traditionally based Models 1, 2, 3, and 4
have typically provided results that are disappointing
to proponents of a job satisfaction–job performance
relation. As a consequence, recent research has in-
creasingly come to recognize the importance of pos-
sible moderator variable influences (i.e., Model 5),
94 WRIGHT, CROPANZANO, AND BONETT
leading to a renewed optimism about the prospects of
finding meaningful relations between job satisfaction
and performance (Cropanzano & Wright, 2001). To
that end, we propose that PWB moderates the relation
between job satisfaction and job performance.
PWB and Job Performance
Outside of the organizational sciences, it has been
common for scholars to treat “happiness” as psycho-
logical well-being (sometimes called personal well-
being or subjective well-being, see Diener, 1984,
1994; for a classical discussion, see Russell, 1930).
PWB is typically defined in terms of the overall
effectiveness of an individual’s psychological func-
tioning (Wright, 2005). Unlike job satisfaction,
which has significant cognitive and affective compo-
nents, PWB is primarily an affective or emotional
experience. More specifically, using the circumplex
model of emotion as the theoretical framework, PWB
measures the hedonic or pleasantness dimension of
individual feelings (Cropanzano, Weiss, Hale, &
Reb, 2003; Wright & Cropanzano, 2000). Based
upon this circumplex model, PWB can be contrasted
with other conceptualizations measuring the level of
activation or “affect intensity” of emotional experi-
ence (Wright, 2005). PWB is typically operational-
ized as capturing both positive and negative emo-
tional states on a single axis (Bradburn & Caplovitz,
1965; Cropanzano et al., 2003; Wright & Staw,
1999). In other words, the high pole is anchored by
such hedonic or pleasantness-based descriptors as
“joyous.” Alternatively, the low pole is anchored by
such descriptors as “sad” and “annoyed.” Thus, to be
high on well-being is to be simultaneously low on
negative emotion and high on positive emotion. In
fact, a number of prominent scholars have more or
less equated well-being with happiness (e.g., Diener,
1984; Seligman, 2002).
Generally speaking, definitions of PWB/happiness
have at least three characteristics. First, happiness is
a subjective experience (Cropanzano & Wright,
2001; Diener, 1994). People are happy to the extent
that they believe themselves to be happy (cf., Sekaran,
1985). Second, happiness includes both the relative
presence of positive emotions and the relative ab-
sence of negative emotions (Diener & Larsen, 1993).
Third, happiness is a global judgment. It refers to
one’s life as a whole (Diener, Sandvik, Seidlitz, &
Diener, 1993). Unlike job satisfaction, PWB is not
tied to any particular situation (Wright, 2005). In
addition, while happiness/PWB exhibits some mea-
sure of temporal stability (Diener, 1994; Diener, Suh,
Lucas, & Smith, 1999), it has also been shown to be
responsive to a number of therapeutic interventions
(e.g., Seligman, 2002).
A small but growing body of empirical research
has found support for a PWB/performance relation.
For example, in a quasi-experimental study, Staw and
Barsade (1993) found that MBA students who were
high on PWB were more accurate decision-makers
(r .20, p .05), showed more effective social
behaviors (r .24, p .05), and received higher
overall performance ratings (r .20, p .05). In
another study, Staw et al. (1994) reanalyzed a longi-
tudinal data set to determine whether a single dimen-
sion measure of well-being could predict changes in
performance outcomes. Staw et al. found support that
their well-being measure predicted changes in salary
(␤⫽.05, p .05, one-tailed), performance evalua-
tions (␤⫽.31, p .01, one-tailed), and supervisor
support (␤⫽.25, p .01, one-tailed). More recently,
Wright, Cropanzano, Denney, and Moline (2002)
found that self-reported psychological well-being
predicted supervisory performance ratings assessed a
full two years later (r .45, p .01). Moreover, this
relation remained significant even after controlling
for the effects of Time 1 performance ratings, dispo-
sitional affectivity, and job satisfaction. Finally, field
studies by Cropanzano and Wright (1999) and
Wright and Staw (1999) also demonstrated that PWB
can be correlated with job performance ratings, even
after including such demographic control variables as
employee age, gender, tenure with the organization,
and education level. Despite its value, this research
literature is in need of conceptual development and
extension. In particular, as we shall discuss in the
next section using Fredrickson’s (2001) broaden-and-
build theory of positive emotions, and consistent with
Judge et al.’s (2001) Model 5, there is reason to
believe that PWB moderates the association between
job satisfaction and performance.
Fredrickson’s Broaden-and-Build Theory
(1998, 2001)
Both job satisfaction and PWB have merit as op-
erationalizations of worker happiness, with both
models possessing research support (Cropanzano &
Wright, 2001; Judge et al., 2001; Wright, 2005).
Despite such encouraging results, these two tradi-
tional approaches to operationalizing worker happi-
ness have seldom been considered concomitantly.
Moreover, those rare investigations that simulta-
neously examine job satisfaction and PWB usually
95PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING AND JOB PERFORMANCE
consider only main effects. For example, two field
studies reported by Wright and Cropanzano (2000)
explored the effects of PWB beyond those of
job satisfaction on job performance. Wright and
Cropanzano did not, however, consider the interac-
tion between the two. While main effect studies have
their place, ignoring the moderating effect of PWB is
limiting, since there are good conceptual reasons to
think that an interaction might take place. Before we
more closely examine the conceptual basis for an
interaction provided by Fredrickson’s model, it is
worthwhile to briefly contrast the burgeoning work
on positive feeling states, exemplified by Fredrickson
and others, with the more typical emphasis of prior
work on negative feeling states.
In the past, the prevailing theoretical models at-
tempted to illustrate the general form and function of
emotions (Fredrickson, 1998). To that end, most
models were devised around prototypic and negative
emotions like anger and fear (Fredrickson, 2003).
The underlying theme of these traditional approaches
(cf., Frijda, 1986; Lazarus, 1991) was that emotions,
by definition, are associated with specific action ten-
dencies. According to Fredrickson (2003), a specific
action tendency is best described “as the outcome of
a psychological process that narrows a person’s mo-
mentary thought-action repertoire by calling to mind
an urge to act in a particular way (e.g., escape, attack,
expel)” (p. 166). In other words, a specific action
tendency is what helps to get our attention (Wright &
Cropanzano, 2004). For example, the negative emo-
tion, fear, is associated with the urge to escape. The
negative emotion, anger, is associated with the urge
to attack, and so on (Fredrickson, 2003).It is impor-
tant to note that the key to these traditional, negative-
based models is that specific action tendencies are
what made our [negative] emotions evolutionarily
adaptive. That is, such negative emotions as fear and
anger helped narrow behavioral urges toward spe-
cific, survival-based actions (e.g., flight or fight) that
literally were life saving in nature for our ancestors
(Fredrickson & Losada, 2005). Alternatively, the
specific action tendencies for positive-based feeling
states are, by contrast, typically vague and under-
specified (Fredrickson, 2003; Wright, 2005). For ex-
ample, the positive feelings associated with content-
ment have been linked with inactivity (Frijda, 1986).
Recognizing this incompatibility of positive feeling
states with the basic premise of traditional models,
Fredrickson developed her broaden-and-build model
to help better capture the unique attributes and po-
tential contributions of positive feelings.
According to Fredrickson’s (1998, 2001; Fredrickson
& Losada, 2005) broaden-and-build theory, a number
of positive feelings, including the experience of
PWB, all share the capacity to “broaden” an individ-
ual’s momentary thought-action repertories through
expanding the obtainable array of potential thoughts
and actions that come to mind (Fredrickson & Branigan,
2001; Wright, 2005). In particular, using laboratory
experiments, Fredrickson and her colleagues
(Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005; Fredrickson &
Losada, 2005) demonstrated that relative to neutral
states, positive feeling states broaden or expand upon
individuals momentary thought-action repertories,
while negative feeling states narrow these same
mechanisms. For example, the positive emotion, in-
terest, fosters the desire to explore, assimilate new
experiences, encounter new information, and grow.
In a like fashion, the positive emotion, joy, creates
the urge to play, to think outside the box, and be
creative. Similarly, psychologically well individuals
tend to be more outgoing and extroverted, remember
favorable events better, and are less likely to encode
an ambiguous event as threatening as compared to
their less psychologically well counterparts (Wright,
2005).
In addition, these benefits of broadened thought-
action repertories merge over time. As proposed by
Fredrickson and Losada (2005), these “broadened
mindsets carry indirect and long-term adaptive value
because broadenings. . .” (p. 679) assist in “building”
the individual’s enduring personal resources, ranging
from physical, psychological, intellectual, and social
in nature (Wright, 2005). This capacity to experience
the positive is proposed to be crucial to one’s capac-
ity to thrive, mentally flourish, and psychologically
grow (Fredrickson, 2001, 2003). This sense of flour-
ishing appears to make psychologically well or happy
people more proactive (cf. Argyle, 1987) and less
prone to stress symptoms (Myers & Diener, 1995). In
other words, Fredrickson’s model suggests that pos-
itive feeling states, such as PWB, may not only have
a main effect relation with job performance, but also,
and importantly, provides a theoretical framework for
the moderating (e.g., broadening and building) effect
of PWB. While this possibility of a moderating ef-
fect of various positive feelings, such as PWB, on the
job satisfaction - job performance relation has long
been recognized in organizational research (e.g.,
Kornhauser & Sharp, 1932; Pennock, 1930), the ac-
tual theoretical basis for this type of interaction was
always rather tentative and ambiguous (cf., Wright,
2005).
The broaden-and-build model also provides
greater insight into the actual form and function of
96 WRIGHT, CROPANZANO, AND BONETT
this moderating effect. More specifically, the possi-
bly adaptive and moderating nature of PWB is po-
tentially more robust for those employees who are
both psychologically well and satisfied with their job
than for those less psychologically well and/or satis-
fied with their job. Through the impetus provided by
high levels of PWB (a positive circumstance), em-
ployees who are also currently satisfied with their job
(another positive circumstance) are proposed to be
more easily able to “broaden-and-build” themselves
over time based upon their ample supply of these
positive-based feelings. As a result, these individuals
are likely to become more creative, resilient, socially
connected, and physically and mentally healthy
(Fredrickson, 2001; Wright, 2005). In particular, the
positive evaluative sentiments associated with high
levels of job satisfaction can be further broadened
and built upon when the employee feels psycholog-
ically well overall (Wright, 2005).
Building upon prior research establishing main
effect associations among job satisfaction, PWB, and
job performance (Wright & Cropanzano, 2000), the
broaden-and-build model suggests that satisfied and
psychologically well employees are more likely than
those less satisfied and psychologically well to have
the resources necessary to foster and facilitate in-
creased levels of job performance. Research has
clearly demonstrated that positive feelings can help
enhance one’s ability to be a better problem solver,
decision maker, and evaluator/processor of events
(e.g., Erez & Isen, 2002; Isen, 2002). In turn, research
has consistently shown that these skills and abilities
are related to job performance (Wright, 2005). As an
added bonus, these effects would appear to persist
over time due, in part, to the differential manner in
which happy and unhappy people recall events. In
fact, as a general consequence, a continued focus on
positive feelings expands (broadens) and builds upon
these positive urges, creating a potentially “upward
spiral” effect, which is proposed to further enhance
individual character development (Fredrickson &
Joiner, 2002; Fredrickson & Losada, 2005; Hobfoll,
1998; Wright, 2005). This capacity to constructively
experience positive feelings has been proposed to be
a fundamental human strength (Fredrickson, 2001;
Wright, 2005).
Control Variables
Resource maintenance or conservation theories
provide the theoretical basis for why certain demo-
graphic variables may help facilitate the emergence
of employee PWB and job satisfaction (Cropanzano
& Wright, 2001; Hobfoll, 1998). Hobfoll (1998) in-
troduced the concept of resource caravans, suggest-
ing that such demographic or “status” variables, such
as tenure with the organization, gender, education
level, ethnicity, wealth, social skills, family member-
ship, and marriage, provide a background net of
potential resources that help facilitate individual ad-
aptation and coping. For instance, a number of liter-
ature reviews have reported that level of expressed
PWB may vary widely based on these demographic
or status variables (especially see Diener, 1984;
Diener et al., 1999). Cranny, Smith, and Stone (1992)
noted the potential relations between job satisfaction
and a number of demographic variables. Spector
(1997) noted that gender is an important factor to
consider in conducting research on job satisfaction.
Berkman (1971) noted that similar relations exist
among these status variables and PWB. Finally, the
possibility of relations among gender, tenure, ethnic-
ity, and performance has also been noted (Blum &
Naylor, 1968; Elvira & Town, 2001; Wright & Staw,
1999). We control for gender, tenure, and ethnicity in
our analyses and provide an answer to our primary
Research Hypothesis: PWB will moderate the
relation between job performance and job satis-
faction, such that this association will be stron-
ger when PWB is high and weaker when PWB
is low.
Method
Participants
Upon receipt of permission from the CEO, the first
author asked 149 first-level managers employed by a
large (over 5000 employees) customer services-
oriented organization on the West Coast of the
United States to participate in the study by means of
a direct contact procedure. More specifically, the first
author scheduled a time to individually meet with
each manager in his or her office. Study guidelines
were discussed and each manager was asked to par-
ticipate in the project. The actual sample included
109 managers, representing a participation rate of
73% (109/149). The demographic characteristics of
the participants were determined by questionnaire
response and confirmed by the first author through
examination of company records. The sample was
primarily male (76%) and white (62%). All partici-
pants had completed at least two years of college.
The mean tenure with the organization was 9.8 years
(SD 6.7). Examination of company records indi-
97PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING AND JOB PERFORMANCE
cated that the study participants did not differ signif-
icantly from nonparticipants regarding gender, eth-
nicity, education level, and tenure with the
organization.
Measures
Psychological Well-Being. As a measure of psy-
chological well-being, the current study used the
eight-item Index of Psychological Well-Being devel-
oped by Berkman (1971). Like many other well-
being measures (Diener, 1984), the Berkman scale
was designed to assess people’s well-being on a
single affective index (Wright & Staw, 1999). The
Berkman scale uses many of the same items as
Bradburn and Caplovitz’s (1965) earlier measure, but
with a more general time horizon. In particular, re-
spondents were asked such questions as how often
(coded as never, sometimes, and often) they felt “very
lonely or remote from other people,” “depressed or
very unhappy,” and “on top of the world.” Following
Berkman (1971) and Wright and Staw (1999), PWB
was scored on a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (low
PWB) to 7 (high PWB). For additional information
regarding the scoring and validation of the Index
using a probability sample of 6928 adults from
Alameda County, California, the reader is referred to
Berkman (1971).
Job satisfaction. Job satisfaction was measured
by three widely recognized job satisfaction dimen-
sions or facets: degree of satisfaction with the work
itself, degree of satisfaction with coworkers, and de-
gree of satisfaction with supervision (Price &
Mueller, 1986). The satisfaction items asked the fol-
lowing questions: “All in all, how satisfied are you
with the work itself of your job?”; “All in all, how
satisfied are you with your coworkers?”; and “All in
all, how satisfied are you with the supervision?”
Ratings were made on a 5-point scale ranging from 1
(very unsatisfied)to5(very satisfied). The theoretical
and empirical justification for combining these three
facet measures of job satisfaction has been widely
documented (Price & Mueller, 1986; Wright &
Cropanzano, 2000).
Job performance. Supervisory ratings obtained
from the employee’s immediate supervisor were used
to measure actual job performance. In particular,
each participant’s manager evaluated subordinates on
the indicator of performance: goal emphasis. The
goal emphasis dimension was measured using a
5-point scale ranging from never to always regarding
the extent that employees “develop and maintain high
performance goals over the past (one year) evaluation
period.” In addition, a one-item, global rating of
performance was provided (i.e., “Overall, how would
you rate this employee’s performance over the past
(one year) evaluation period?)” Values ranged from 1
(poor)to5(excellent). These items were summed to
form a composite measure of performance.
Results
Preparatory Analyses
Table 1 displays the variable means, standard de-
viations, intercorrelations, and internal consistency
reliabilities. Coefficient alpha reliabilities were .75,
.75, and .74 for job satisfaction, psychological well-
being, and job performance, respectively. Consistent
with Judge et al. (2001), job satisfaction was corre-
lated with job performance (r .36, p .01, 95%
CI .18 to .52). Providing additional support to our
Table 1
Means, Standard Deviations, Alpha Reliabilities and Intercorrelations
Variables MSD 123456
1. Ethnicity
a
1.4 0.5
2. Gender
b
1.2 0.4 .01
3. Organization tenure 9.8 6.7 .27
**
.02
4. Job satisfaction
c
3.4 0.8 .07 .03 .14
(.75)
5. Psychological well-being 3.6 1.5 .02 .10 .11 .30
**
(.75)
6. Job performance
d
3.6 0.9 .28
**
.19 .01 .36
**
.43
**
(.74)
Note. Alpha reliabilities appear in the diagonal.
a
Ethnicity was coded “1” for white and “2” for nonwhite.
b
Gender was coded “1” for male and “2” for female.
c
Mean score
is based on the combined three job satisfaction facet items (5-point scale).
d
Mean score is based on the combined two job
performance items (5-point scale).
*
p .05.
**
p .01, all tests are two-tailed.
98 WRIGHT, CROPANZANO, AND BONETT
overall finding, considered individually, each of the
three facet items of satisfaction, the work itself (r
.35, p .01, 95% CI .17 to .51), coworkers (r
.28, p .01, 95% CI .09 to .45), and supervision
(r .25, p .01, 95% CI .06 to .42) were
correlated with performance. Likewise, consistent
with work on psychological well-being, PWB is also
associated with performance ratings (r .43, p
.01, 95% CI .26 to .58). It is also noteworthy that
though job satisfaction and PWB are significantly
associated, the size of this relationship (r .30, p
.01, 95% CI .12 to .46) is not so large as to cause
doubts as to the independence of the two constructs.
Interaction Between Job Satisfaction
and PWB
Using hierarchical moderated regression (Aguinis,
1995), we tested the hypothesized moderating role of
PWB on the job satisfaction - job performance rela-
tion. For descriptive purposes and in order to better
highlight the incremental contribution of our interac-
tion, our analyses proceeded in three steps (Aguinis,
1995); these are shown in Table 2. In Step 1, we
entered the demographic control variables (ethnicity,
gender, and tenure). In Step 2, we entered the two
main effects for job satisfaction and PWB. These
were followed by the job satisfaction by PWB inter-
action in Step 3. PWB and job satisfaction were
centered before performing the regression analyses
(Cohen, Cohen, West, & Aiken, 2003). In addition,
diagnostic checks for influential observations and
nonlinearity were conducted, with no problems de-
tected.
The multiple regression results for Steps 1–3 are
shown in Table 2. At Step 1, the squared multiple
correlation was .13, F(3, 95) 4.73, p .01, 95%
CI: .01 to .24; at Step 2, the squared multiple corre-
lation was .35, F(5, 93) 9.86, p .01, 95% CI: .17
to .47; and, at Step 3, the squared multiple correlation
was .38, F(6, 92) 9.26, p .01, 95% CI: .18 to .49.
When all the variables were included in the model
(Step 3), job performance was associated with eth-
nicity (b ⫽⫺.49, p .01), PWB (b .15, p .01),
job satisfaction (b .32, p .01), and the job
satisfaction by PWB interaction (b .12, p .05).
Most relevant to the present study, this interaction
accounted for a small, but statistically significant
increment in variance beyond the control variables
and main effects, R
2
.03, p .05.
Testing the Form of the Interaction
To illustrate the nature of the interaction, we plot-
ted the relation between job satisfaction and job
performance for individuals with one standard devi-
ation above the mean on PWB and for one standard
deviation below the mean (Aiken & West, 1991).
Note that these plots are predicted values based on
our full sample (N 99) and computed from the Step
3 parameter estimates contained in Table 2. These
plots are displayed in Figure 1. In particular, the
simple slope at high PWB is strong and positive (b
0.50, t 3.85, p .01, 95% CI .24 to .76), while
the simple slope at low PWB is nonsignificant and
close to zero (b 0.14, t 1.08, ns, 95% CI ⫽⫺.12
to .40). More specifically, the figure shows that the
relation between job satisfaction and job performance
tends to be stronger for employees with high PWB
than for employees with low PWB. Likewise, perfor-
mance is highest of all when both job satisfaction and
PWB are also high. Figure 1 further demonstrates the
Table 2
Hierarchical Regression for Job Performance
Variables
Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
bSEb bSEb bSEb
Gender .47 .19 .24
*
.37 .17 .19
*
.33 .17 .17
Tenure .02 .01 .13 .02 .01 .18
*
.02 .01 .17
Ethnicity .44 .17 .26
*
.48 .15 .28
**
.49 .15 .29
**
Psychological well-being (PWB) .17 .05 .31
**
.15 .05 .28
**
Job satisfaction .28 .09 .27
**
.32 .09 .31
**
Job satisfaction by PWB .12 .06 .18
*
R
2
.13
**
R
2
.35
**
R
2
.38
**
R
2
.22
**
R
2
.03
*
Note. Job satisfaction and psychological well-being were centered for all analyses.
*
p .05.
**
p .01, two-tailed tests.
99PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING AND JOB PERFORMANCE
overall tendency for employees with high levels of
PWB to have higher levels of job performance than
employees with low levels of PWB.
Discussion
The present research provides further clarification
to the age-old quest to better understand the happy/
productive worker thesis. In particular and consistent
with Judge et al.’s (2001) Model 5 premise, we found
that job satisfaction does predict job performance,
assuming the employee also has a high level of PWB.
Job satisfaction is apparently not as good a predictor
of job performance among employees with low levels
of PWB. In fact, as graphically evidenced in Figure 1,
there is no discernable relationship between job sat-
isfaction and job performance for those low in PWB.
What this means is that for even the most satisfied
employees, if they are low in PWB, their high job
satisfaction is less likely to be reflected in increased
job performance. By extension, if job satisfaction is
viewed by workers as a positive circumstance (a
point with which few would disagree), then accord-
ing to Fredrickson’s (1998, 2001) broaden-and-build
model, it should have a stronger relation to perfor-
mance when PWB is high and a weaker relation to
performance when PWB is low. These findings are
important and have both theoretical and practical
implications.
Theoretical Implications
In broad outline, this interaction effect is consistent
with several lines of theoretical thinking. For in-
stance, Judge and his colleagues emphasized that the
job satisfaction/job performance relation was signif-
icant overall, but this relationship also showed a good
deal of variability. Likewise, Cropanzano and Wright
(2001), while asserting that PWB is often related to
performance, maintained that those high in PWB
respond more favorably to positive circumstances
than do those low in PWB.
Even more important to note is that this study
suggests that Frederickson’s (1998, 2003) broaden-
and-build model provides a useful framework for
predicting effective work behaviors, such as job per-
formance. Specifically, the model suggests that job
satisfaction is of value, but mostly for those with the
high well-being that allows them to more fully ben-
efit from this favorable circumstance. Future research
should examine the broaden-and-build model in other
circumstances. For instance, our study emphasized
job satisfaction. However, the impact of other posi-
tive circumstances, such as a supportive family,
might be stronger when PWB is high and weaker
when PWB is low. This idea is speculative, but it is
consistent with Frederickson’s model.
While this study has answered some questions, it
has raised others. Clearly, this is an area of inquiry
Figure 1. Interaction of PWB and job satisfaction in predicting job performance. Plotted
lines illustrate the effect of job satisfaction on job performance for those scoring 1 standard
deviation above the mean on the measure of PWB (high PWB) and for those scoring 1
standard deviation below the mean on the measure of PWB (low PWB).
100 WRIGHT, CROPANZANO, AND BONETT
that could benefit from additional research. In this
regard, it is noteworthy that there are other versions
of the happy/productive thesis, and these do not nec-
essarily involve PWB or job satisfaction (for a re-
view, see Cropanzano & Wright, 2001). These in-
clude positive affectivity (Watson, 1988; Wright &
Staw, 1999) and the Five-Factor personality frame-
work (Barrick & Mount, 1991), among others. Re-
search continues to explore the relation of these con-
structs to the two operationalizations considered
here. One possibility may be causal. For instance,
Diener (1994) suggested that dispositional positive
affectivity (PA) might be a cause of PWB. Similarly,
other researchers have proposed that PA might cause
job satisfaction as well (e.g., Cropanzano, James, &
Konovsky, 1993; George, 1992; for a related per-
spective see Judge et al., 2001), though such effects
could be moderated by working conditions (Levin &
Stokes, 1989).
We propose that a fuller integration of these dif-
ferent constructs, using such approaches as Fredrick-
son’s (1998, 2001) broaden-and-build model as the
theoretical framework, could provide greater insight
into the happy/productive worker thesis. In particu-
lar, in addition to PWB, the broaden-and-build model
would support the possible adaptive and interactive
nature of a number of other positive-based emotions.
For instance, joy, exhilaration, optimism, and interest
all share the ability to “broaden” an individual’s
momentary thought–action experiences and provide
valuable assistance in helping to further “build” the
individual’s personal resource arsenal (Fredrickson,
2001). As a consequence, individuals are more easily
able to transform themselves and become more cre-
ative, hardy, resilient, socially connected, and phys-
ically and mentally healthy (Wright, 2003). We hope
that the present study will provide the stimulus for
more research on these potentially important topics.
Practical Implications
Assuming that these findings are replicated by
future studies, they could have implications for indi-
vidual betterment and management practice. In par-
ticular, organizations may want to pay closer atten-
tion to the well-being of their workforce. Generally
speaking, employee-focused, positive psychological-
based work interventions can take three general
forms: composition, training, and situational engi-
neering (Ilgen, 1999). Composition focuses on select-
ing and placing individuals into appropriate posi-
tions, while training emphasizes assisting employees
so that they better fit their jobs. Finally, situational
engineering focuses on changing the work environ-
ment to make it more closely fit the needs and
abilities of one’s employees. While employee
PWB has implications for each of these ap-
proaches, we focus our attention on training and
situational engineering.
While PWB exhibits significant test-retest consis-
tency over time, these results also indicate that indi-
viduals have the opportunity to learn ways to enhance
their PWB through any number of training-based
interventions (for a review, see Quick, Quick,
Nelson, & Hurrell, 1997). In particular, a number of
strategies exist where individuals are trained to pro-
actively self-monitor or manage their personal per-
ceptions to enhance positive and discourage negative
displays of emotion. For example, constructive self-
talk is a learned technique that replaces negative
self-talk with more positive and reinforcing self-talk
(Eliot, 1995). More recently, Seligman, Steen, Park,
and Peterson (2005) reported that several interven-
tion strategies increased happiness and decreased de-
pressive symptoms for up to six months. Especially
promising are intervention strategies designed to get
individuals to use such signature strengths (Peterson
& Seligman, 2004) as love of learning, authenticity,
kindness, fairness, forgiveness, and hope in new and
novel ways. This discussion emphasizes an important
point. These interventions can benefit both the indi-
vidual employee through enhanced PWB, as well as
the organization through increased productivity.
Situational engineering involves techniques designed
to change the work environment to promote worker
PWB. Like training, this approach also shows promise,
as there is a growing body of evidence that conditions at
work affect employee PWB (Wright & Cropanzano,
2000). For example, research has demonstrated that
something as straightforward as providing tangible so-
cial support on the job can minimize the negative im-
pact of a stressful work environment (Kohn & Schooler,
1982). Likewise, such family friendly policies as flex-
time and childcare have been proposed to enhance lev-
els of employee PWB (Quick et al., 1997). We suggest
that future research give serious consideration to situa-
tional engineering attempts to enhance employee PWB.
Limitations of the Present Study
There are potential limitations to our findings
that are worth considering. For one, all our mea-
sures were taken contemporaneously, rendering
any causal inferences as inappropriate. Fortu-
nately, our interpretation is consistent with longi-
tudinal field research conducted by Wright and
101PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING AND JOB PERFORMANCE
Staw (1999) and Wright et al. (2002), as well as
quasi-experimental research by Staw and Barsade
(1993). That stated, research is needed to examine
the impact of change in employee PWB over time
(Wright, 2005). For instance, longitudinal research
would afford the opportunity to test the broaden-
and-build premise that positive changes will tend
to persist over time, due, in part, to the differential
manner in which positively and negatively oriented
individuals recall events (Fredrickson, 2001;
Wright, 2003). In addition, long-term, prospective
longitudinal research designs would also allow for
the period of time between PWB and such impor-
tant organizational outcome variables as perfor-
mance, turnover, chronic absenteeism, and tardi-
ness to more naturally and developmentally unfold.
One could also suggest that another possible lim-
itation is that the present findings are a consequence
of the type of performance instrument used. That is,
it is possible that employees who are psychologically
well and satisfied with their job are simply “nicer”
people and more fun to be around. Because people
(i.e., management) tend to be more tolerant of those
they favor or like, management personnel may pro-
vide more positive evaluations for those who appear
to be psychologically well and satisfied with their job
(Wright & Cropanzano, 1998). Thus, rather than be-
ing directly related to changes in performance, PWB
and job satisfaction could serve as a systematic
source of halo in performance evaluations. Previous
research (e.g., Staw et al., 1994; Wright & Staw,
1999) has addressed this possible concern by noting
that, “. . . even if supervisory evaluations include
halo or other forms of bias, they are predictive of
achievement or success from the employee’s point of
view.” (p. 19). As a case in point, supervisory per-
formance evaluations are the primary (if not sole)
basis used to determine employee raise and promo-
tion decisions in the present study organization.
A final issue warranting discussion involves the
finding of a negative relation between ethnicity and
job performance (r ⫽⫺.28). At the time that our
study was undertaken, top management was be-
coming aware of the need to increase the represen-
tation of female and minority management person-
nel (ethnicity was also negatively correlated with
tenure, r ⫽⫺.27). At the completion of the study,
the lead author shared these findings with top man-
agement and interested study participants. This
researcher was later told that these findings were
instrumental in convincing top management to ini-
tiate a comprehensive, organization-wide interven-
tion plan to increase the number of women and
minority management-level personnel. We suggest
that future research endeavors using supervisory
measures of performance take the precaution of
controlling for the possibility of bias.
Conclusion
This article provides evidence supporting the in-
corporation of both employee PWB and job satisfac-
tion in the future consideration of the happy/
productive worker thesis. Using Fredrickson’s (1998,
2001) broaden-and-build model as the theoretical
base and consistent with Judge et al.’s Model 5, we
found that PWB moderates the relation between job
satisfaction and job performance. Consistent with
Fredrickson’s model, job performance was highest
when employees reported high scores in both PWB
and job satisfaction.
Additional research is now needed to more closely
examine the form and function of PWB. For exam-
ple, while various forms of PWB (e.g., fatigued vs.
agitated) are similar constructs because they possess
large amounts of unpleasantness, they also differ
because they possess differing measures of activation
(Larsen & Diener, 1992). The awareness of future
research endeavors of these types of distinctions
could be very helpful in better predicting employee
behavior across differing job situations.
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y
104 WRIGHT, CROPANZANO, AND BONETT
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... Recently, psychological capital has been found to associate with better student wellbeing (Datu & Valdez, 2016;Martínez et al., 2021;Poots & Cassidy, 2020). Avey et al. (2010) and Wright et al. (2007) noted that well-being itself can serve as a primary resource, which is most likely to occur when individuals preserve and obtain resources. Thus, the conservation of resources (COR) theory (Hobfoll, 1989) is of particular relevance for the beneficial role of psychological capital in well-being. ...
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The self-determination literature is inconclusive about how basic need fulfillment affects job satisfaction and how needs-based models compare with models based on desires, i.e., organizational justice which forms the basis of popular employee engagement surveys. It is unclear also how individual performance is affected by job satisfaction that results either from basic needs or from organizational justice. Based on survey data, we compare needs-based and desire-based models. We assess how well such models explain and predict job satisfaction directly and indirectly predict individual performance through job satisfaction. This paper shows that, in lean management contexts, job satisfaction due to the fulfillment of basic human needs better predicts in-role performance than does job satisfaction due to organizational justice. We also find that (1) the need for relatedness is more important than previously theorized and (2) the effect of fulfilling basic needs depends on constraints that reflect how well other needs are satisfied. In general, basic human needs have much greater explanatory power with respect to job satisfaction than does organizational justice. Finally, our paper highlights the need to distinguish clearly between explanatory and predictive models, because our results show that a given model’s performance varies considerably as a function of the particular application.
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Emotional processes influence a wide range of mental and physical systems, which makes them difficult to understand from a single perspective. In this special issue of the Review of General Psychology, contributing authors present 4 articles that draw from several areas within psychology in the service of understanding a topic relevant to emotion. In this overview, the authors argue that the long neglect of the scientific study of complex processes such as emotion might be linked, in part, to the fractionation of the field into specialized subdisciplines. Just as emotions were of central concern in the early years of psychology (which was a generalist's era), as psychology moves toward more integration in the late 20th century broad phenomena such as emotions are once again central interests. The 4 articles of this special issue are briefly reviewed as exemplars of an integrated approach to understanding emotional phenomena.
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Berkman, P. L. (Dept. of Public Health, Berkeley, Calif. 94704). Measurement of mental health in a general population survey. Amer J Epidem 94: 105–111, 1971.—This article describes an eight-item Index of Psychological Well-Being used to measure mental health in a general population mail-questionnaire survey, and reports on the respective relations between this Index and a variety of demographic variables, including physical health. The Index was found associated, in generally expected directions, with income adequacy, and with sex, ethnic origin, marital status, employment status, education, and occupation, even when adjusting for income differences within these variables. The Index is also positively associated with physical health status, generally regardless of sex, age, or adequacy of household income. Age, however, was found related to psychological well-being in a curvilinear pattern, with the young and the very old both scoring worse on the Index than the intermediate age groups.