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A matter of teaching and relationships: determinants of teaching style, interpersonal resources and teacher burnout


The present study tests a model of the interplay between teaching style determinants, interpersonal resources, and teacher burnout dimensions, controlling for teachers’ experience variables. Two-hundred and ninety-seven teachers in the Portuguese educational system teaching in a rural region participated in the research. Using a Structural Equation Modeling approach, the key finding of this study is that teacher interpersonal self-efficacy and teacher–student closeness partially mediated the connections between teacher epistemological sophistication and student misbehavior and teacher burnout. Specifically, an increment of teacher depersonalization is associated with student misbehavior, when mediated by interpersonal self-efficacy and teacher–student closeness. Moreover, while greater attunement with students (meaning lower conflict) prevents emotional exhaustion caused by student misbehavior, it also has costs in terms of lower professional accomplishment. Thus, in intense interpersonal settings like schools, teacher interpersonal resources, especially teacher–student closeness and attunement, may not have an universal positive return for educators. Implications for future research are recommended, such as the replication of this model across urban and suburban settings. In addition, it seems warranted that teacher pre-service and service training readdress the topic of interpersonal resources as a means to improve teacher well-being, including its merits and limits.

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The authors would like to thank Sindicato Democráticos dos Açores (SDPA) and Sindicato dos Professores da Região Açores (SPRA) as well as to all participants for their collaboration in this study.


This work was supported by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia [Grant Number SFRH/BPD/99616/2014].

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Correspondence to Francisco Simões.

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Simões, F., Calheiros, M.M. A matter of teaching and relationships: determinants of teaching style, interpersonal resources and teacher burnout. Soc Psychol Educ 22, 991–1013 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-019-09501-w

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  • Teaching style
  • Interpersonal self-efficacy
  • Teacher–student relationships
  • Teacher burnout