Explaining psychological distress in the legal profession: the role of overcommitment

Bergin, Adele J. & Jimmieson, Nerina L. (2013) Explaining psychological distress in the legal profession: the role of overcommitment. International Journal of Stress Management, 20(2), pp. 134-161.

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The purpose of this study was to explain previously reported high levels of psychological distress in lawyers. General demands (i.e., time pressure and emotional demands) and lawyer demands (i.e., emphasis on profits and competitiveness), as well as three resources (i.e., control, pay, and praise) were examined, along with the moderating role of overcommitment. Participants included 448 Australian lawyers who completed an online questionnaire distributed to them by their state or territory law society. Results revealed significant direct relationships between the demands, resources, and overcommitment on depression and anxiety. Significant two-way interactions indicated that the positive relationship of general demands on depression and anxiety were more marked for high overcommitted lawyers, as was the negative relationship of pay on anxiety. Contrary to predictions for the three-way interaction, in the presence of high general demands, there was a trend to suggest that high control was positively related to psychological distress for high overcommitted lawyers. The theoretical and practical implications of these results, including the importance of identifying overcommitted lawyers and developing preventive interventions to reduce overcommitment prior to the development of strain, are discussed.

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3 citations in Scopus
5 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 71592
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Job demand-resources model, Overcommitment, Strain, Lawyers
DOI: 10.1037/a0032557
ISSN: 1072-5245
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 American Psychological Association
Deposited On: 15 May 2014 00:15
Last Modified: 15 May 2014 22:22

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