Executive functions as moderators of the neuroticism-burnout relationship

Bailey, Tom James (2017) Executive functions as moderators of the neuroticism-burnout relationship. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Whilst the positive relationship between neuroticism and burnout is well-established within the extant literature, it is also acknowledged that neurotic individuals may differ in the extent to which they experience such detriments in well-being. In concordance with dual-processing theories of behaviour, it was suggested in this thesis that executive functions may enable one to enact in a ‘goal-orientated’ manner, and thus overcome one’s instinctive neurotic tendencies towards burnout.

Through the four studies of this thesis, a research model was constructed and examined in which the core executive functions of working memory, active inhibition and task switching were proposed to reduce the extent to which neuroticism positively predicted burnout (which in studies 2 and 3 was suggested to occur via negative affect).

Although the overall neuroticism-burnout relationship was not found to be conditional upon any of the three executive functions, there was some evidence that the constituent paths of an indirect neuroticism-burnout model (via negative affect) were moderated by executive functions. Specifically, active inhibition significantly decreased the negative affect-burnout relationship in study 2, and this relationship was found to be conditional on task-switching in study 3, to the extent that lower task-switching reduced the moderating effect of active inhibition on the relationship between negative affect and burnout. In study 3 it was also found that higher levels of working memory capacity were associated with a reduction in the neuroticism-negative affect relationship.

The findings of this research did not support an overall moderating effect of executive functions, whilst only partly supporting the broader suggestion that executive functions may regulate the negative outcomes that occur when vulnerable individuals experience stressors. In light of the results of this thesis, limitations of the research were discussed (including methodological differences across studies and the use of unitary executive function measures) and suggestions made for future research (e.g. longitudinal study designs).

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Liddle, E.B.
Keywords: Executive functions; Dual processing; Neuroticism; Burnout; Well-being
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WM Psychiatry
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 42041
Depositing User: Bailey, Tom
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2017 12:30
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2017 09:58
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/42041

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