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Deciding Between Work and Family: An Episodic Approach


  • This research was supported in part by a pilot project research grant from the Sunshine Education and Research Center at the University of South Florida. The Center is supported by Training Grant No. T42-OH008438 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).


This study examined work–family conflict decision-making based on a within–person, episodic approach. Based on 274 episodes across 78 individuals, we investigated the frequency of decisions that result in work interference with family (WIF) versus family interference with work (FIW), as well as the relation of work and family situational variables and previous work–family conflict (WFC) episodes on those decisions. No difference in the frequency with which participants reported WIF episodes versus FIW episodes was observed. Results indicated that work/family role sender pressure, work/family instrumental support, work/family activity importance, work emotional support, and the direction of the previous WFC decision each predicted WFC decisions. Dominance analysis indicated that role sender pressure was the most important predictor. In addition, we compare and discuss within-person variation with between-person variation. Contributions of the study to work–family research and practice are discussed.