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Keywords:

  • family–work conflict;
  • interpersonal conflicts;
  • daily study;
  • spillover–crossover

In this study of 80 dual-earner couples, we examined the relationship between conflicts at work and at home on a daily basis. Using a strain-based approach as well as literature on spillover–crossover and displaced aggression, we hypothesized that daily level of family–work conflict (FWC) would increase daily interpersonal conflicts with colleagues at work, which in turn would increase conflicts with the partner at home. Furthermore, we examined the moderating role of a personality trait (i.e., neuroticism) on the relationship between interpersonal conflicts at work and at home. Finally, we analysed the crossover of interpersonal conflicts at home between the members of the couple. Participants filled in a diary booklet during five consecutive working days (= 160 participants and = 800 occasions). Results showed that FWC predicted interpersonal conflicts at work, which in turn predicted conflicts with the partner at home. Further, neuroticism accentuated the relationship between interpersonal conflicts at work and at home. There was also a crossover of interpersonal conflicts at home. Our findings suggest ‘a negative spiral of daily conflicts’ which may affect both employees and their partner. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Practitioner points

  • Family–work conflict (FWC) increases interpersonal conflicts at work on a daily basis.
  • The strain derived from conflicts with colleagues is transferred to the home domain (spillover) and affects also the employee's partner (crossover).
  • Organizations may help employees manage their workload and work commitments to reduce FWC, which is a trigger of interpersonal conflicts with colleagues in the workplace.