Work–Family Spillover and Subjective Well-Being: The Moderating Role of Coping Strategies


The main focus of this study is to examine the moderating role of coping strategies in relation to work–family spillover and subjective well-being. We hypothesized that work–family spillover has a predictive effect on work and family domain satisfaction, which in turn are positively predictive of subjective well-being. We also hypothesized that the effect of negative work–family spillover on life domain satisfaction is mitigated with problem-focused coping strategies more so than emotion-focused coping strategies. Data were collected through a survey of a representative sample of American adults who are fully employed (N = 827). Hypotheses were tested using SEM and regression. The results indicate that work–family spillover has predicted subjective well-being, as hypothesized. We also found that the strength of the negative association between negative work–family spillover and life domain satisfaction is significantly reduced when individuals use problem-focused coping strategies, as hypothesized. This effect was not found when individuals use emotion-coping strategies. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.

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Appendix: Constructs and Measurement Items

Appendix: Constructs and Measurement Items

Life Satisfaction (M = 8.09; SD = 1.27; Skew = − 1.18; Kurtosis = 2.69)

  • Satisfaction with overall life

  • (0 = the worse possible; 10 = the best possible)

Satisfaction with work life (M = 7.86; SD = 1.73; Skew = − 1.29; Kurtosis = 2.08)

  • Satisfaction with work

  • (0 = the worse possible; 10 = the best possible)

Satisfaction with family life (M = 8.46; SD = 1.30; Skew = − 1.36; Kurtosis = 2.42)

  1. 1.

    Satisfaction with relationship with spouse/partner

  2. 2.

    Satisfaction with relationship with children

    (0 = the worse possible; 10 = the best possible)

Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (M = 2.14; SD = 0.99; Skew = − 1.33; Kurtosis = 2.93)

  1. 1.

    Positive affect (Alpha = 0.91) (M = 3.51; SD = 0.66; Skew = − 0.70; Kurtosis = 0.90)

    1. 1.


    2. 2.

      In good spirits

    3. 3.

      Extremely happy

    4. 4.

      Calm and peaceful

    5. 5.


    6. 6.

      Full of life

  2. 2.

    Negative affect (Alpha = 0.85) (M = 1.36; SD = 0.46; Skew = 2.22; Kurtosis = 6.93)

    1. 1.

      So sad nothing could cheer you up

    2. 2.


    3. 3.

      Restless or fidgety

    4. 4.


    5. 5.

      That everything was an effort

    6. 6.


    (1 = all of the time; 5 = none of the time)

Work-to-Family and Family-to-Work Spillover

Positive work-to-family spillover (Alpha = 0.72) (M = 2.90 SD = 0.70; Skew = − 0.09; Kurtosis = 0.38)

  1. 1.

    Job helps me to deal with issues at home.

  2. 2.

    Job makes me more interesting at home.

  3. 3.

    Job makes me a better companion at home.

  4. 4.

    Job skills are useful at home.

Negative work-to-family spillover (Alpha = 0.84) (M = 2.51 SD = 0.69; Skew = 0.16; Kurtosis = 0.58)

  1. 1.

    Job reduces my effort on activities at home.

  2. 2.

    Job stress makes me irritable at home.

  3. 3.

    Job makes me too tired to do things at home.

  4. 4.

    Job problems distract me at home.

Positive family-to-work spillover (Alpha = 0.61) (M = 3.37 SD = 0.67; Skew = − 0.37; Kurtosis = 0.46)

  1. 1.

    Talking to someone at home helps me with job problems.

  2. 2.

    Providing for what is needed at home makes work harder at job*.

  3. 3.

    Home love makes me confident at work.

  4. 4.

    Home helps me relax for next workday.

Negative family-to-work spillover (Alpha = 0.78) (M = 2.08 SD = 0.58; Skew = 0.39; Kurtosis = 1.13)

  1. 1.

    Home responsibilities reduce the effort I exert on the job.

  2. 2.

    Personal worries distract me on the job.

  3. 3.

    Home chores prevent me to have enough sleep to do my job.

  4. 4.

    Home stress makes me irritable on the job.

    (1 = all of the time; 2 = most of the time; 3 = some of the time; 4 = rarely; 5 = never)

*Item reverse-coded.

Problem-Focused Coping

Positive reinterpretation and growth (Alpha = 0.79) (M = 6.35 SD = 2.10; Skew = 0.70; Kurtosis = 0.065)

  1. 1.

    I try to grow as a person as a result of the experience.

  2. 2.

    I try to see it in a different light, to make it seem more positive.

  3. 3.

    I look for something good in what is happening.

  4. 4.

    I learn something from the experience.

Active coping (Alpha = 0.75) (M = 12.31; SD = 2.35; Skew = − 0.33; Kurtosis = − 0.25)

  1. 1.

    I concentrate my efforts on doing something about it.

  2. 2.

    I take additional action to try to get rid of the problem.

  3. 3.

    I take direct action to get around the problem.

  4. 4.

    I do what has to be done, one step at a time.

Planning (Alpha = 0.82) (M = 12.70; SD = 2.13; Skew = − 0.32; Kurtosis = − 0.32)

  1. 1.

    I make a plan of action.

  2. 2.

    I try to come up with a strategy about what to do.

  3. 3.

    I think about how I might best handle the problem.

  4. 4.

    I think hard about what steps to take.

    (1 = a lot; 2 = a medium amount; 3 = only a little; 4 = not at all)

Emotion-Focused Coping

Venting of emotion (Alpha = 0.82) (M = 13.10; SD = 2.27; Skew = − 0.50; Kurtosis = − 0.33)

  1. 1.

    I get upset and let my emotions out.

  2. 2.

    I get upset and am really aware of it.

  3. 3.

    I let my feelings out.

  4. 4.

    I feel a lot of emotional distress and find myself expressing those feelings a lot.

Denial (Alpha = 0.77) (M = 8.60; SD = 2.71; Skew = 0.56; Kurtosis = 0.14)

  1. 1.

    I say to myself “this isn’t real”.

  2. 2.

    I refuse to believe that it has happened.

  3. 3.

    I pretend that it hasn’t really happened.

  4. 4.

    I act as though it hasn’t even happened.

Behavioral disengagement (Alpha = 0.74) (M = 5.47; SD = 1.94; Skew = 1.56; Kurtosis = 2.66)

  1. 1.

    I admit to myself that I can’t deal with it and quit trying.

  2. 2.

    I give up trying to reach my goal.

  3. 3.

    I give up the attempt to get what I want.

  4. 4.

    I reduce the amount of effort I’m putting into solving the problem.

    (1 = a lot; 2 = a medium amount; 3 = only a little; 4 = not at all)


  • Satisfaction with personal health (M = 7.70; SD = 1.26; Skew = − 0.70; Kurtosis = 0.99)

  • Respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with the personal health on an 11-point satisfaction scale varying from the worse possible (0) to the best possible (10).

  • Gender

  • 1 = male; 2 = female.

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Sirgy, M.J., Lee, D., Park, S. et al. Work–Family Spillover and Subjective Well-Being: The Moderating Role of Coping Strategies. J Happiness Stud (2019) doi:10.1007/s10902-019-00205-8

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  • Positive spillover
  • Negative spillover
  • Domain satisfaction
  • Life satisfaction
  • Subjective well-being
  • Coping strategies
  • Work–life balance