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The Importance of Positive and Negative Affectivity and Mental Health Activities for Positive Mental Health and Work-related Behavior and Experiences

  • The aim of the present thesis was to shed further light on the relationships between affectivity, mental health activities, and positive outcomes in work and life. For this purpose, three distinct studies were conducted. Study I aimed to identify the relevance of affectivity in four types of work-related behavior and experiences. These types reflect differences in work-related motivation, coping, and emotions, which are important outcomes in a person’s working life. A quite common method to assess these work-related behavior and experiences is the Work-related Coping Behavior and Experience Pattern (WCEP) Questionnaire (Schaarschmidt & Fischer, 2008). Although positive and negative affectivity are basic traits that affect motivation, coping, and emotions, their relevance in this questionnaire remained unclear. It was found that the combination of positive and negative affectivity could predict the assignment to a specific type of work-related behavior and experiences. Study I also highlighted that beside individual differences in emotionality, environmental factors like the type of profession seemed to be relevant. Hence, future research with the WCEP questionnaire should consider both individual and environmental variables. These findings are also relevant from a health promotion perspective. High positive affectivity and low negative affectivity can be seen as individual resources whereas low positive affectivity and high negative affectivity reflect risk factors. Hence, increasing positive affect and reducing negative affect seem to be useful in order to enhance engagement and well-being in the work context. One way to increase positive affect or reduce negative affect is to practice everyday activities. Although the promotion of everyday activities has been increasingly recognized for both the reduction of mental impairment and the promotion of positive mental health, a short scale to assess mental health promoting activities was still missing. Hence, the aims of Study II were to evaluate the usefulness of self-help strategies formulated within the concept of Mental Health Literacy (Jorm, 2012) as items of a mental health activity scale, to identify their underlying factor structure, and to associate these strategies with positive mental health as well as with positive and negative affectivity. The results of Study II suggest that these self-help strategies can be combined to a brief scale to assess mental health activity. Mental health activities seem to encompass three underlying components, namely positive orientation, physical engagement, and emotion regulation, but further validation is needed. Also, the integration of activities formulated within the field of positive psychology might be a useful extension. The finding that mental health activities were strongly associated with positive mental health broadens the context in which mental health activities can and should be promoted, because they are not only related to reduced mental impairment but also to positive mental health. Although these findings are promising, future studies are needed to establish causal effects. Moreover, mental health activities were more strongly related to positive affectivity than to negative affectivity which indicates that they might be especially useful to increase positive affect and less relevant for reducing negative affect, but the direction of causality needs be addressed in future studies. Since affectivity and behavior are related, and can both affect relevant outcomes, the final aim of this thesis was to identify the specific relationship between affectivity, the practice of mental health activities, and positive outcomes in work (work-related behavior and experiences) and life (positive mental health). Study III revealed that the practice of mental health activities was related to more positive mental health and less unhealthy work-related behavior and experiences, even after the consideration of affectivity. Moreover, mental health activities functioned as mediators in the relationship between affectivity and the respective outcomes, indicating both an upward spiral (especially in regard to positive mental health) and a loss cycle (primarily for the risk of burnout). Positive orientation activities and physical engagement activities seem to be primarily associated with coping abilities and positive emotions, whereas emotion regulation activities might be also related to work motivation. In line with the Broaden and Build theory of positive emotions (Fredrickson, 2004) and the Conservation of Resources theory (Hobfoll, 1989), the findings indicate the potential of mental health activities as ways to facilitate positive emotions and increase individual resources, ultimately leading to positive outcomes in work and life. However, future studies are needed to evaluate the (possible reciprocal) relationships between affectivity, affect, mental health activities, personal resources, and positive outcomes in more detail. Although the present findings already suggest the potential of mental health activities as lifestyle suggestions to promote mental health within and beyond the work context, future research is required.

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Author:Hanna Hofmann
Referee:Carl-Walter Kohlmann, Sonja Rohrmann
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Year of Completion:2019
Granting Institution:Pädagogische Hochschule Schwäbisch Gmünd
Date of final exam:2020/01/21
Release Date:2020/02/07
GND Keyword:Work , Stress , Psychische Gesundheit , Verhalten , Affektivität; Arbeitsbelastung
Page Number:116
To order the print edition:1689594586
Institutes:Fakultät I
Licence (German):License LogoVeröffentlichungsvertrag ohne Print-on-Demand