Date of Award

5-2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Debora Baldwin

Committee Members

John Lounsbury, Richard Saudargas, Mary Ziegler

Abstract

Occupational stress is an ever-increasing public health hazard and occupational risk factor. There are growing concerns around the world; people work harder and longer while injury and illness rates associated with occupational stress continues to grow. This field study explores the relationship among optimism, the Five-Factor Model (FFM) of personality (conscientiousness, openness, emotional stability, agreeableness, and extraversion), stress (perceived stress), and job performance variables (dedication, teamwork, self-responsibility, winning attitude, fit, quality of operations, guest promises/service) in employees of the service industry. It is hypothesized that the variable of optimism will be a better predictor than the FFM personality constructs for predicting stress and job performance. More specifically, it is hypothesized that individuals who score high on optimism will report lower levels of stress and receive better job performance evaluations compared with their counterparts.

Questionnaires and surveys were administered and collected in a pen and paper format through mailings to the participants. Participants (N=201) were asked to complete questionnaires on measures of personality and stress while supervisors provided job performance ratings for each participant. Results indicated that optimism demonstrated an increase in incremental validity over the FFM in the model to predict stress. Optimism also yielded a higher correlational relationship with job performance than the FFM. The current study provides additional support in demonstrating the validity and practicability of using optimism as a predictive variable of stress and job performance in a working population.

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