Current Psychology

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 595–605 | Cite as

Work Engagement of Dual-Working Couples: Dissimilarity and Its Relation to Both Partners’ Well-Being

  • Maša Tonković Grabovac
  • Svjetlana Salkičević
  • Ajana Löw Stanić


Work engagement is a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption. Work engaged individuals not only function better at work, but also transfer these benefits to home - research has shown that work engagement crosses over between marital partners. In previous studies on crossover, this phenomenon was evidenced only by significant correlation between self-reports of partners’ work engagement, while measures of dissimilarity between partners were completely ignored. However, work engagement dissimilarity - with one partner being highly enthusiastic and immersed in his/her work and the other one lowly - could be related to some aspects of both partners’ well-being and might improve its prediction. Hence, the goal of this study was to examine work engagement dissimilarity within dual-earning couples. In addition to self-report measures, we collected partners’ ratings of work engagement and its subdimensions as well. The data collected on 178 dual-working Croatian couples showed significant correlation of overall work engagement, vigor, dedication and absorption between various pairs of self- and other-ratings measures (partners’ self-ratings; self-ratings and partner’s ratings; and partner’s self-ratings and his/her ratings of work engagement of the partner). Moreover, difference in self-ratings and ratings of partner’s work engagement showed negative correlation with life satisfaction of both partners, suggesting that work engagement dissimilarity has a potential to be related to some aspects of partners’ well-being.


Work engagement Work engagement dissimilarity Work engagement crossover Dual-working couples Other-reports 


  1. Adams, G. A., King, L. A., & King, D. W. (1996). Relationships of job and family involvement, family social support, and work–family conflict with job and life satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81(4), 411–420. doi: 10.1037//0021-9010.81.4.411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amato, P. R., & Previti, D. (2003). People’s reasons for divorcing gender, social class, the life course, and adjustment. Journal of Family Issues, 24(5), 602–626. doi: 10.1177/0192513X03024005002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2007). The job demands-resources model: State of the art. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 22(3), 309–328. doi: 10.1108/02683940710733115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2008). Towards a model of work engagement. Career Development International, 13(3), 209–223. doi: 10.1108/13620430810870476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2009). The crossover of work engagement between working couples: A closer look at the role of empathy. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24, 220–236. doi: 10.1108/02683940910939313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bakker, A. B., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2000). Burnout contagion processes among teachers. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 2289–2308. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2000.tb02437.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2005). Crossover of burnout and work engagement among working couples. Human Relations, 58, 661–689. doi: 10.1177/0018726705055967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bakker, A. B., Westman, M., & Van Emmerik, I. J. H. (2009). Advancements in crossover theory. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24, 206–219. doi: 10.1108/02683940910939304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bakker, A. B., Shimazu, A., Demerouti, E., Shimada, K., & Kawakami, N. (2011). Crossover of work engagement among Japanese couples: perspective taking by both partners. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 16(1), 112–125. doi: 10.1037/a0021297.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The Moderator-Mediator Variable Distinction in Social Psychological Research: Conceptual, Strategic, and Statistical Considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1173–1182. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.51.6.1173.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Bartnett, R. C., Raudenbush, S. W., Brennan, R. T., Pleck, J. H., & Marshall, N. L. (1995). Changes in job and marital experience and change in psychological distress: A longitudinal study of dual-earner couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(5), 839–850. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.69.5.839.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Berscheid, E., & Reis, H. T. (1998). Attraction and close relationships. In D.T. Gilbert, S.T. Fiske, & G.Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed. Vol. 2, pp. 193–281). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  13. Bolger, N., DeLongis, A., Kessler, R., & Wethington, E. (1989). The contagion of stress across multiple roles. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 51, 175–183. doi: 10.2307/352378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Britt, T. W., Adler, A. B., & Bartone, P. T. (2001). Deriving benefits from stressful events: the role of engagement in meaningful work and hardiness. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 6(1), 53–63. doi: 10.1037//1076-8998.6.1.53.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Bumpass, L. L., & Sweet, J. A. (1972). Differentials in marital instability. American Sociological Review, 37, 71–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Burns, G. N., & Christiansen, N. D. (2011). Methods of measuring faking behavior. Human Performance, 24(4), 358–372. doi: 10.1080/08959285.2011.597473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Byrne, D. (1997). An overview (and underview) of research and theory within the attraction paradigm. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14, 417–431. doi: 10.1177/0265407597143008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Clarkwest, A. (2007). Spousal dissimilarity, race, and marital dissolution. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69(3), 639–653. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2007.00397.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112(1), 155. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.112.1.155.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Cole, K., Daly, A., & Mak, A. (2009). Good for the soul: The relationship between work, wellbeing and psychological capital. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 38(3), 464–474. doi: 10.1016/j.socec.2008.10.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Connelly, B. S., & Ones, D. S. (2010). An other perspective on personality: meta-analytic integration of observers’ accuracy and predictive validity. Psychological Bulletin, 136(6), 1092–1122. doi: 10.1037/a0021212.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., Nachreiner, F., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2000). A model of burnout and life satisfaction amongst nurses. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 32(2), 454–464. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2000.01496.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., De Jonge, J., Janssen, P. P., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2001). Burnout and engagement at work as a function of demands and control. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 27(4), 279–286. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542–575. doi: 10.1037//0033-2909.95.3.542.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Diener, E. D., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Dixon, M. A., & Sagas, M. (2007). The relationship between organizational support, work-family conflict, and the job-life satisfaction of university coaches. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 78(3), 236–247. doi: 10.5641/193250307X13082490461101.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Judge, T. A., & Locke, E. A. (1993). Effect of dysfunctional thought processes on subjective well-being and job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78(3), 475–490. doi: 10.1037//0021-9010.78.3.475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Judge, T. A., Locke, E. A., Durham, C. C., & Kluger, A. N. (1998). Dispositional effects on job and life satisfaction: the role of core evaluations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(1), 17–34. doi: 10.1037//0021-9010.83.1.17.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Judge, T. A., Heller, D., & Klinger, R. (2008). The dispositional sources of job satisfaction: A comparative test. Applied Psychology, 57(3), 361–372. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.2007.00318.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jugović, I., & Kamenov, Ž. (2011). Percepcija, iskustvo i stavovi o rodnoj (ne)ravnopravnosti u obitelji. [Gender (in)equality and discrimination in family relations]. In Ž. Kamenov & B. Galić (Eds.), Rodna ravnopravnost i diskriminacija u Hrvatskoj: Istraživanje «Percepcija, iskustva i stavovi o rodnoj diskriminaciji u RH. Ured za ravnopravnost spolova Vlade RH: Zagreb.Google Scholar
  32. Kelley, H. H., & Thibaut, J. W. (1978). Interpersonal relations: A theory of interdependence. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  33. Kossek, E. E., Baltes, B. B., & Matthews, R. A. (2011). How work–family research can finally have an impact in organizations. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 4(3), 352–369. doi: 10.1111/j.1754-9434.2011.01353.x.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G., & Griffin, D. W. (1996). The benefits of positive illusions: Idealization and the construction of satisfaction in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(1), 79–98. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.70.1.79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Norton, R. (1983). Measuring marital quality: a critical look at the dependent variable. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 141–151.doi: 10.2307/351302
  36. Oh, I. S., Wang, G., & Mount, M. K. (2011). Validity of observer ratings of the five-factor model of personality traits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(4), 762–773. doi: 10.1037/a0021832.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Pedhazur, E. J., & Schmelkin, L. P. (1991). Measurement, design, and analysis: An integrated approach (Studentth ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  38. Peeters, M., Wattez, C., Demerouti, E., & de Regt, W. (2009). Work-family culture, work-family interference and well-being at work: Is it possible to distinguish between a positive and a negative process? Career Development International, 14(7), 700–713. doi: 10.1108/13620430911005726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Reis, H. T., & Shaver, P. (1988). Intimacy as an interpersonal process. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of personal relationships (pp. 367–389). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  40. Rothbard, N. P. (2001). Enriching or depleting? The dynamics of engagement in work and family roles. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46(4), 655–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schaufeli, W. B., & Bakker, A. B. (2004). Job demands, job resources, and their relationship with burnout and engagement: A multi‐sample study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25(3), 293–315. doi: 10.1002/job.248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schaufeli, W., & Salanova, M. (2007). Work engagement. Managing social and ethical issues in organizations, 135–177.Google Scholar
  43. Schaufeli, W. B., Taris, T., Le Blanc, P. M., Peeters, M. C., Bakker, A. B., & de Jonge, J. (2001). Maakt arbeid gezond? Op zoek naar de bevlogen werknemer. [Does work make happy? In search oft he engaged worker]. De Psycholoog, 36, 422–428.Google Scholar
  44. Schaufeli, W. B., Salanova, M., González-Romá, V., & Bakker, A. B. (2002). The measurement of engagement and burnout: A two sample confirmatory factor analytic approach. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3(1), 71–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Snyder, M., & Swann, W. B., Jr. (1978). Behavioral confirmation in social interaction: From social perception to social reality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 14(2), 148–162. doi: 10.1016/0022-1031(78)90021-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Snyder, M., Tanke, E. D., & Berscheid, E. (1977). Social perception and interpersonal behavior: On the self-fulfilling nature of social stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35(9), 656–666. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.35.9.656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sonnentag, S. (2003). Recovery, work engagement, and proactive behavior: a new look at the interface between nonwork and work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(3), 518–528. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.88.3.518.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Šverko, B., Arambašić, L., & Galešić, M. (2002). Work-life balance among Croatian employees: role time commitment, work-home interference and well-being. Social Science Information, 41(2), 281–301. doi: 10.1177/0539018402041002006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tait, M., Padgett, M. Y., & Baldwin, T. T. (1989). Job and life satisfaction: A reexamination of the strength of the relationship and gender effects as a function of the date of the study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 502–507. doi: 10.1037//0021-9010.74.3.502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Vazire, S., & Carlson, E. N. (2011). Others sometimes know us better than we know ourselves. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(2), 104–108. doi: 10.1177/0963721411402478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Westman, M. (2001). Stress and strain crossover. Human Relations, 54(6), 717–752. doi: 10.1177/0018726701546002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Westman, M., Etzion, D., & Gurtler, E. (2004). The work-family interface and burnout. International Journal of Stress Management, 11(1), 413–428. doi: 10.1037/1072-5245.11.4.413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Westman, M., Etzion, D., & Chen, S. (2009). Crossover of positive experiences from business travelers to their spouses. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24(3), 269–284. doi: 10.1108/02683940910939340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maša Tonković Grabovac
    • 1
  • Svjetlana Salkičević
    • 1
  • Ajana Löw Stanić
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

Personalised recommendations