Affect Generated by Social Comparisons Among Nurses High and Low in Burnout1

Authors


  • 1

    We thank Liliane Hopstaken (Study 1) and Willem Sips and Esther Groenestijn (Study 2) for their help with questionnaire construction and data collection

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bram P. Buunk, Faculty of Behavioral and Social Science, Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, Crete Kurisstraat 2/1. NL-9712 TS Groningen. The Netherlands.

Abstract

The affective consequences of social comparison were examined in 2 field studies among nurses and related to the 3 dimensions of professional burnout: emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment, and depersonalization. Study t was conducted in a sample of 99 nurses of a psychiatric hospital, and Study 2 in a sample of 237 nurses employed in various settings In general, upward comparisons evoked more positive and less negative affect than did downward comparisons. However, the affective consequences of social comparison were different for those high and low in burnout. Those low in personal accomplishment reported higher levels of negative affect from upward comparisons and higher levels of positive affect from downward comparisons than did those high in personal accomplishment. In addition, in Study 2, those high in depersonalization and emotional exhaustion derived more positive affect from downward comparisons than did those with lower levels of burnout.

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